Betty Ford Center introduces state-of-the-art protocol to treat opioid addiction

Rancho Mirage, Calif. (July 27, 2016)—The national nonprofit Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation announced today it is building on the successful implementation of its leading edge opioid treatment at its other sites by employing the Comprehensive Opioid Response with Twelve Steps (COR-12™) program at the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

“Four years ago we were out front in responding to the grim reality that more and more people across the country are becoming addicted to opioids and dying from overdose,” said Marvin D. Seppala, MD, the chief medical officer of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and one of the nation’s leading experts on opioid addiction. He pointed out that addiction to opioids—the class of drugs that includes heroin and pain medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone and morphine—has increased dramatically in this country, and drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in America, ahead of even automobile crashes.

“For us, that meant utilizing at our Minnesota and Oregon facilities a new treatment protocol that integrated the use of certain medications with our world-class Twelve Step Facilitation model to form the foundation of a unique approach that we believe gives those with opioid dependence the best chance for lifelong recovery,” continued Dr. Seppala. “While we are continuing a rigorous research project so we can learn and share even more from our outcomes, the preliminary results have been promising and have encouraged us to roll this protocol out to our Betty Ford Center site.”

Individuals who are dependent on opioids face unique challenges that can undermine their ability to remain in treatment and ultimately achieve long-term abstinence. They are hypersensitive to real or imagined physical and psychic pain and are more vulnerable to stressful events, putting them at greater risk of relapse. They are more likely than other patients to leave treatment before completing it. And they are at higher risk of death from accidental overdose during relapse because of their reduced tolerance levels. Deaths can occur after treatment and a period of abstinence when people relapse and return to using the same doses they were taking prior to treatment, for which the body no longer has tolerance, causing respiratory depression.

“This innovative program gives our patients the gift of time and saves lives,” said Steven Eickelberg, MD, the medical director at the Betty Ford Center, which is part of the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation. “The COR-12 protocol enables patients to stay engaged in treatment longer and gives them the time they need to regain health and hope, learn vital recovery skills and develop connections that support their recovery.”

COR-12 integrates the optional use of medications—extended release naltrexone (Vivitrol®) or buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone®)—with psychotherapies, opioid-specific group therapy and patient education, and a strong Twelve Step orientation to improve psychosocial functioning, enrich relationships and foster a healthier lifestyle—all keys to a lasting recovery.

“COR-12 attends to all of these aspects of recovery using a long-term approach for this chronic brain disease,” Dr. Eickelberg concluded. The protocol, which seeks to engage opioid-dependent patients long enough to allow them to complete treatment and become established in solid Twelve Step recovery, recognizes that the highest risk period for relapse is the first 12 to 18 months after treatment, so COR-12 patients may remain on medication and involved in outpatient care throughout this period, with the goal of discontinuing the medication as they become established in long-term recovery. For more information and the latest statistics on the opioid epidemic, check out our webpage.

About the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. It is the nation's largest nonprofit treatment provider, with a legacy that began in 1949 and includes the 1982 founding of the Betty Ford Center. With 15 sites in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Illinois, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Colorado and Texas, the Foundation offers prevention and recovery solutions nationwide and across the entire continuum of care for youth and adults. It includes the largest recovery publishing house in the country, a fully-accredited graduate school of addiction studies, an addiction research center, an education arm for medical professionals and a unique children's program, and is the nation's leader in advocacy and policy for treatment and recovery. Follow us on Twitter@hazldnbettyford.

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