November 5, 2012

Hazelden to enhance treatment methods in response to national opioid epidemic

Posted Monday, Nov. 5, 2012

Hazelden, provider of addiction treatment and education, announced this week it is taking comprehensive action to address the nation's growing tide of addiction to prescription painkillers and stem the alarming increase in the number of fatalities related to opioid overdose.

“Deaths from drug overdose, driven by the increase in prescription painkiller abuse, now outnumber those caused by car accidents,” said Marvin D. Seppala, MD, Hazelden's chief medical officer. “This is an unspeakably tragic public health crisis—one that demands up-to-date, evidence-based treatment protocols that offer the brightest promise of recovery.”

The death toll from prescription painkiller overdose across the U.S. has increased more than fivefold in the past decade (from 3,000 deaths in 1999 to 15,500 in 2009), prompting the Centers for Disease Control to define the problem as an epidemic.

Hazelden facilities have seen a corresponding increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for opioid addiction. In Center City, Minn., for example, those seeking treatment for opioid addiction rose from 19 percent of patients in 2001 to 30 percent in 2011. An even more dramatic jump was seen at Hazelden's facility for young adults and adolescents in Plymouth, Minn., from 15 percent of patients in 2001 to 41 percent in 2011.

As part of a comprehensive response to this crisis, Hazelden will begin to offer extended, adjunctive medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid dependence as a means to assist people to a stable, Twelve Step-based recovery lifestyle and abstinence from opioids. This will take place at Center City and St. Paul, Minn., before the end of 2012, and Hazelden will broaden the option to its residential and outpatient facilities in 2013.

“Our aim is to provide improved treatment using any and all means for those with opioid dependence,” said Seppala. “We have examined the research literature and will use medications to engage our opioid dependent patients long enough to allow them to complete treatment and become established in solid Twelve Step recovery. Our goal will always be abstinence.

“We must move past stigma and let evidence-based science and compassion guide our response to this crisis.”

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