More than 20 million Americans suffer from opioid addiction.That figure from the American Society of Addiction Medicine also finds drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in this country.
When a person who's abusing opioids is ready for treatment, often treatment's not available or not easy to get to. So what if the treatment came to them via the internet? That's what THRIVEE is offering.
Taking a page from the growing field of tele-medicine, it's about to start offering online, interactive treatment for substance abuse.
"Because this tool is so simple and easy to do and access, it gets these people in, gets them to show up and gets them to stay in the program – which is absolutely critical," explained David Henderson, THRIVEE's CEO.
He explains a patient would first be seen by a medical provider, undergo a blood test and receive a prescription for Suboxone - which tames the side effects of drug withdrawal, helping patients live a normal life. That prescription could be filled at a local pharmacy, as Suboxone is not as highly regulated as methadone. Along with ongoing counseling, there will be ongoing blood tests to make sure the patients don't start using again.
"One of the tragedies of the opioid epidemic is that we know how to treat it, yet we don't provide enough access to it -- and we're enabling that access," noted Aran Ron, MD, MPH with THRIVEE.
"Because it's virtual, we can address all the issues in suburban and rural markets, where there really aren't any, very few clinicians that are available to get this type of service," pointed out Henderson.
Both private and group counseling sessions will be offered.
Henderson says during the two years THRIVEE's been in development, they've been seeing private pay clients. The cost is about $300 a month. Now, he says they're on the verge of signing contracts with local insurance companies and will operate out of a storefront in Cohoes starting in January. When THRIVEE is fully operational, they expect to have health care providers, counselors and sort of customer service reps working there. The virtual model of Thrivee is not for everyone. People with other psychological issues and ongoing health problems are not candidates.