Safe Start – Cumberland Heights’ Response to the Opioid Crisis

Safe Start – Cumberland Heights’ Response to the Opioid Crisis

By: Cumberland Heights

Safe Start – Cumberland Heights’ Response to the Opioid Crisis
We created Safe Start, a recommended medication-assisted treatment to anyone diagnosed with a moderate to severe opioid abuse disorder

Safe Start

In 2017, nearly 70,000 people died from drug-related overdoses, and research shows opioid abuse is more rampant than ever. A report from the National Safety Council says more people died from accidental opioid overdoses than car crashes in 2017.

Cumberland Heights is very in tune with the epidemic and that’s why we created Safe Start, our official response to the opioid crisis. Safe Start is medication-assisted treatment and recommended to anyone diagnosed with a moderate to severe opioid abuse disorder.

Essentially, it’s extended release Naltrexone, a long-acting opioid antagonist used to reduce cravings. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids if they are used. Unlike other medications used to treat opioid addiction like methadone, there is no chance of dependency with Naltrexone. Naltrexone can also be an effective treatment for alcohol addiction.

Dr. Chapman Sledge, Chief Medical Officer at Cumberland Heights says as a stand-alone treatment Naltrexone is not effective. “The basis of a strong spiritual foundation in the recovery process is essential. Medication is only part of the solution,” said Sledge.

The Proof

Before the FDA approved Naltrexone for opioid dependence in 2010, they conducted a study dividing opioid addicts, primarily heroin users into two groups going through the same course of treatment. The only difference was one group got extended release Naltrexone and the other group was given placebo. The groups were monitored for 24 weeks. The group that got the Naltrexone injection had 90% abstinence confirmed on urine drug screens compared to 35% abstinence among the group that got the placebo injection. As a secondary measure, the study looked at cravings. Cravings were decreased by 55% in the group that received the extended release Naltrexone injection. In the group that got the placebo, cravings increased.

How it Works

This is how Safe Start looks for a patient coming into Cumberland Heights: Once the patient is evaluated and it is determined Naltrexone would be a good tool for them in their recovery, they will detox in a safe residential setting and then have 7-10 days for the receptors to clear before staff administers Naltrexone.

As they continue with their recovery, and transition out of residential treatment, Cumberland Heights sets them up with a plan that ensures they get their shot every 28 days. Dr. Sledge says it is reasonable to discuss discontinuing Naltrexone after a year if recovery is solid.

If you or someone you know is struggling with Opioid Dependence or Opioid Addiction, please visit our Admissions section to learn more about what to do and how we can help.


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