All week, New Jersey 101.5 has focused on New Jersey’s heroin and opiate crisis: What is driving the epidemic, how it’s evolved and what efforts are being made to curb it.

There is an increasing awareness that to turn the tide law enforcement must partner with education and health care officials in order to promote a holistic approach to treatment.

According to Carrier Clinic CEO Don Parker, whether you’re dealing with psychological or physiological issues, “each person needs a unique plan, a unique set of treatments, a unique approach, this is definitely not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation to find the right path to recovery.”

Don Parker, Carrier Clinic CEO David Matthau, Townsquare Media
Don Parker, Carrier Clinic CEO
David Matthau, Townsquare Media

Among the options for treating addiction is a method called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS, which is the use of electric current to stimulate the nerves for therapeutic purposes.

According to Parker, this therapy is used on the brain's hypothalamus.

“The hypothalamus is the area where when you are addicted to something it has a major impact. It helps you sleep, it helps you concentrate, it helps you feel good about yourself,” he said. “This TENS unit stimulates the hypothalamus back into activity after drug episodes. So we remove the drug from your system; we have new drugs, for instance, like naltrexone, that allows you to block the feeling of the opiate, and get you through the detox process; and then we come back and we rehab your hypothalamus.”

He explained the stimulation is done “a couple of times a day for about 30 minutes, and in a week we can get close to full functioning of the hypothalamus."

This treatment is paired with psychological support and physical activity, such as yoga or exercise.

“It’s important to get complementary alternative medicine, new approaches that are physical approaches, bring them all together, help us sit down with a patient and give them alternatives,” he said.

Parker stressed recovery from drug addiction is often a complex problem that requires proper support, treatment and patient participation.

“When you’re taking a chemical out of a body, physiologically there have been so many impacts that have occurred as a result of that chemical,” he said.

Aftercare is a critically important component to the rehabilitation process.

“If we can’t connect someone with a support system in their community after going through detox and rehabilitation, there is frequently a relapse,” Parker said.

“The new approaches we’re taking with different medications and therapies will enhance the opportunity for addicts to make a recovery and fully participate in their lives.”

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