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Hazelden Betty Ford designs curriculum for comprehensive opioid treatment

July 2, 2015
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation's much-watched blueprint for blending science and spirituality by introducing maintenance medication treatment for some patients with opioid use disorders has now become more accessible to other treatment facilities. Through its publishing arm, Hazelden Betty Ford has released in book and digital form a curriculum for its trademarked Comprehensive Opioid Response with the Twelve Steps (COR-12) program.

The new product, with a pricing structure based on the size of the purchasing organization, includes information on understanding opioids, a section on Hazelden Betty Ford's experiences with COR-12, a review of the COR-12 clinical philosophy, and a guide to the care continuum and decision-making around issues such as whether an individual patient may be a match for medication-assisted treatment. “This product has been great for us internally—it has become our internal training protocol,” says Joe Jaksha, publisher with Hazelden Publishing.

Jaksha says that with COR-12 already demonstrating an encouraging impact in improving opioid treatment patients' engagement in services at Hazelden Betty Ford, it was time to share with other facilities what the organization has learned, in keeping with Hazelden Publishing's historical mission. “We didn't want to wait for four years of data collection before bringing this forward,” he says. “People are constantly asking us how we're doing it.”

And he adds that as the opioid crisis has continued to spiral nationally, more treatment organizations with a 12-Step focus appear to be more open to incorporating medication-assisted treatment. Facilities' perspective on the appropriateness of medication-assisted treatment is “less black and white” at present, Jaksha says.

Improving enrollment

At this year's National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) annual conference in Carlsbad, Calif., Hazelden Betty Ford chief medical officer Marvin D. Seppala, MD, indicated that his organization now is largely focused on trying to convince more of its patients that they could benefit from an extended use of buprenorphine or the injectable formulation of naltrexone.

Atypical discharges from treatment at Hazelden Betty Ford's primary facility in Minnesota are substantially lower among enrollees in the intensive COR-12 program than in its traditional treatment track, but most patients in the facility still choose not to participate in COR-12—and some who do participate elect to do it without the medication component.

Jaksha says Hazelden Betty Ford is marketing the COR-12 curriculum to both organizations and clinical professionals. “We've even heard from community organizations that want something for their community,” he says.

Hazelden Betty Ford also is initiating training sessions in COR-12, including open-enrollment sessions at its Minnesota and Oregon campuses (to which it is encouraging organizations to send clinical, medical and administrative representatives).

Hazelden Betty Ford is currently engaged in a pilot training effort for front-line clinicians, nurses and physicians at St. Elizabeth Healthcare, which serves a northern Kentucky region that has been greatly affected by overdose deaths. “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,” Jaksha said in a June news release from Hazelden Betty Ford.

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