Expanding medication-assisted treatment in Ohio State’s two emergency departments (EDs) for opioid-related crises is a major thrust of a $1 million “Emergency Department Coordinated Care” grant from Franklin County Public Health in central Ohio. The grant also supports initiatives including the distribution of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, the creation of an addiction consult line for all Ohio State medical center patients and the employment of people who can provide peer recovery support in the ED to help individuals navigate through treatment. Another important service will be making referrals to outpatient or inpatient treatment programs as people with opioid-related issues are discharged from the ED.
Among Ohio State’s opioid-related initiatives are innovative approaches to alleviate withdrawal and help with opioid cravings. One is an NSS-2 Bridge peripheral nerve stimulator to help relieve withdrawal symptoms without using opiates. The device sits behind the ear, and wires attached to the ear and scalp provide mild electrical stimulation to ease withdrawal. The device lasts for five days and can be used as a bridge to Vivitrol, which blocks opioid receptors in the brain.
Ohio State researchers are studying neurofeedback training for its additive value in relieving cravings and other symptoms related to opioid addiction. Patients from Ohio State’s intensive outpatient drug and alcohol addiction recovery services who are on medication-assisted treatment are eligible to undergo training sessions with electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring to learn to control their own brain waves. The goal is to create a relaxed, meditative state using positive imagery, including turning down opioids, to help with opioid cravings. Researchers are testing whether the training is effective and feasible for those recovering from addiction.
In 2019, Ohio State will be among the first centers in the country to offer one-year fellowships in addiction medicine accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.