Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Brings Treatment Model to the Field to Help Others Address the Opioid Epidemic

CENTER CITY, Minn. (June 18, 2015) —Responding to the national opioid epidemic, Hazelden Publishing and clinicians from its umbrella organization, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, have developed a comprehensive curriculum to help hospitals and other treatment centers treat addiction and prevent overdose deaths in their communities.

Addiction to opioids - the group of drugs that includes heroin and prescription pain medications - is especially difficult to treat, and with opioids - unlike other drugs - relapse often means death.

"Our mission is to be a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction, and our new Comprehensive Opioid Response with the Twelve Steps (COR-12™) product details our best practices and resources and provides others with tools so they can join us in saving lives," said Joe Jaksha, publisher, Hazelden Publishing. "This innovative manual makes our own evidence-based treatment model available to any organization as they seek to provide better treatment and outcome for their opioid-dependent clients and stop the epidemic in their communities."

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the nation's largest nonprofit provider of addiction treatment and recovery resources, launched its COR-12™ program in 2013, integrating the use of medications like buprenorphine/naloxone and extended-release naltrexone into its evidence-based, world-class Twelve Step facilitation model to provide long-term services individualized to opioid-dependent patients' needs.  The new Publishing curriculum builds on that effort by making the protocol available to other medical and behavioral health professionals.

"This guide has been a labor of love, developed by an entire organization," said Marvin D. Seppala, MD, the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's chief medical officer, who led development of the protocol. "It sprang from tragic necessity, and by putting our best clinical minds together, innovation emerged."

Drug overdose deaths now outnumber fatal car accidents in this country, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Andy Mendenhall, MD, medical director of Hazelden in Beaverton, Ore., said overdose is a particular risk when people relapse after treatment because they may return to their old dosage after having lost the tolerance for it.

"Opioid-dependent patients are more difficult to treat because they are hypersensitive to pain and more vulnerable to stress," Mendenhall added. "Their anxiety, depression and intense craving for these drugs can continue for months, even years, after getting free of opioid use.  They experience a strong desire to feel 'normal' again - to escape what seems like a permanent state of dysphoria, which puts them at high risk of relapse."

The guide, co-authored by Seppala and Bruce Larson, director of Clinical Services at Hazelden in Center City, helps care providers implement an opioid-specific treatment program that uses medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as an adjunct to abstinence-based, Twelve Step recovery. It provides step-by-step guidance and background on why this type of approach is needed and outlines the COR-12™ principles and processes - from preadmission through admission, treatment and continuing care. The guide is based on the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's experience implementing the COR-12™ program.

In addition to the best practices guide for professionals, Hazelden Publishing is now providing COR-12 leadership training. Experts from Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation are available to train and consult agency leaders, clinical and medical directors and nursing heads on the knowledge, skills and tools needed to successfully implement a comprehensive plan for treating opioid use disorders.

"For those interested in implementing COR-12™," Jaksha said, "we can also help identify and plan for potential challenges, lead the cultural shift required to work with opioid-dependent clients, and develop communication plans to address concerns from internal and external stakeholders."

A pilot program implementing COR-12™ is currently in place at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, which serves communities in northern Kentucky - an area hit hard by overdose deaths. After months of planning and assessment, the first COR-12™ implementation training for 30 front-line clinicians, doctors and nurses is being held in June.

"Our pilot program at St. Elizabeth in Kentucky is demonstrating that organizations throughout the nation can adopt COR-12™ into their system of care to improve outcomes for their patients and tackle the opioid epidemic in their communities," said Jaksha, who noted that interested organizations can find more information here.

Early results from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's own implementation of COR-12 are positive. In 2014, only 2.5 percent of its COR-12 clients left treatment early, while 34.5 percent of the opioid-dependent patients who did not participate in COR-12 left treatment early. An earlier study found that 80 percent of COR-12™ participants stayed engaged in continuing care services following discharge from residential primary treatment. The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation has been addressing the opioid crisis in a number of other ways in 2015, providing public education events and advocacy in Washington, DC and in communities throughout the country.

About The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is a force of healing and hope for individuals, families and communities affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs. 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 16 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.

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