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The Bridge Device For Opiate Withdrawal

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

One of the main reasons those suffering from opioid addiction aren't able to kick the habit is they aren't able to get through the horrible withdrawal period. This period can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the opiate they were abusing and some individuals state they still don't feel quite right even months after stopping their methadone for example. They know that if they could just get past the withdrawal period they would be fine and they have the determination and psycho-social support in place to be successful. While some individuals will elect to check into a rehab to "detox" many cannot afford to do this or have the time to spend 30-90 days away from their job and family. Others may try the outpatient route and attempt to get into a Suboxone clinic or other medication-assisted treatment (MAT) provider. However, as I've previously written it can be very difficult and tedious trying to find a Suboxone clinic that is accepting new patients and there are often unexpected costs that one may not be aware of. Even when transitioning to MAT such as Buprenorphine you need to be in a moderate state of withdrawal or else you run the risk of throwing yourself into precipitated withdrawal. This is where the Bridge device steps in and can provide another viable option for those seeking help.

The Bridge Device
The Bridge Device being tested on our medical director

What Is The Bridge Device And How Does It Work

The Bridge device is a relatively new treatment option for opioid addiction that is unique in that it utilizes a completely non-pharmacologic approach to address symptom relief. It was just FDA approved in November 2017 as an aid to reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and has been shown to effectively reduce withdrawal symptoms by more than 80% following 1 hour after placement. It works by what is known as Percutaneous Electrical Nerve Field Stimulation (PEFNS) and the battery-powered electrodes stimulate cranial nerves V, VII, IX, X and the peripheral branches of the occipital nerve which in turn sends impulses to the parts of the brain involved in regulating visceral and somatic pain, specifically the amygdala. Basically in layman's terms it helps to down regulate the parts of the brain and spinal cord that become hyperactive as a result of withdrawal.

Where To Get The Bridge Device

Since the Bridge device is a medical device it does require a prescription from a physician and can only be obtained through special distributors. In addition, the provider that implants the device must have undergone the appropriate training and received special certification to do so. The procedure itself can be done in any typical office setting and takes about 15-30 minutes to complete from start to finish but the patient needs to wait in the office for about an hour post-placement for further monitoring. They then need to return 5 days later for removal of the device and for initiation of Vivitrol. As of now this device is not covered by insurance but should hopefully be soon. The Bridge device is definitely a game changer in the arena of opioid addiction but requires the correct patient for success and may not be the best option for everyone. Please consult your medical provider to find out more and if interested in pursuing this further you may contact us at Merkava Treatment Center for a consultation.

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