Harford County Health Department Now Offering New Treatment For Opioid Addiction

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The Harford County Health Department Offices in Bel Air (Credit: Van Fisher/Patch)

HARFORD COUNTY - The Harford County Health Department is now offering a new outpatient detox treatment for those suffering from opioid addiction.

According to a news release from the department, patients can now be treated with a Transcutaneous Auricular Neurostimulation (tAN) device. The technology "deliver[s] drug-free personalized opioid withdrawal relief" through non-invasive electrostimulation.

The device delivers Neurostimulation through an earpiece worn on the left ear. The stimulation targets two cranial nerves, the vagus and the trigeminal. The earpiece is designed to be worn up to 24 hours a day throughout opioid reduction or as prescribed to aid in reducing symptoms.

Harford County adults 18 and older struggling with opioid dependence are eligible for the treatment.

"We are excited to offer this new device to Harford County residents as we continue to improve opioid treatment throughout the county," Harford County health officer Marcy Austin said. "By offering unique and meaningful treatments, the health department can help promote a pain and drug-free life for those suffering from an opioid use disorder."

A National Library of Medicine study found that patients using the tAN device significantly reduced their Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) score, a method of measuring the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The COWS scale uses symptoms such as resting pulse rate, pupil size, and tremors to calculate the severity of a given individual's withdrawal.

"Across all thirty-one participants, the mean COWS scores relative to baseline were reduced by 4.7 points after 60-minutes of active tAN across both groups," the study found.

Dr. Greg Hobelman, Co-Ceo and President of Ashley Addiction Treatment, says this is a positive step towards proliferating less invasive treatment options.

"The nice thing about this intervention is that it's non-invasive. We have been using acupuncture for a long time to decrease withdrawal symptoms. We know it's effective, and it's widely offered. What's exciting about this is that this is a non-invasive way of achieving that same goal: to reduce or minimize the symptoms."

Patients enrolled in the detox and using the device must also attend treatment at the Harford health department. The additional treatment includes therapy, attending an outpatient program three days a week, medication management, and peer recovery support.

The health department says that most insurance policies cover outpatient detox.

"Anytime we can break down a barrier of addiction, the path to recovery is more attainable," the health department's Behavioral Health Bureau medical director Julie Stancliff added.

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