Silver Hill Hospital, the psychiatric hospital in New Canaan, CT, has opened its Chronic Pain and Addiction Center, an intensive residential treatment program for patients with pain who have become addicted to opioid medications. Dr. Seddon R. Savage, President of the American Pain Society, is the Medical Director.
According to a 2011 report of the Institute of Medicine, chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined—as many as 116 million people costing about $600 billion annually. Opioid therapy has become an increasingly common treatment for persistent pain but there can be unintended consequences. Some patients exposed to long-term use are at risk for addiction. Opioid misuse can result in serious harm including death from overdose. This combination of chronic pain, coupled with opioid misuse and addiction presents a major U.S. health crisis.
“We have opened the Chronic Pain and Addiction Center now because there is an urgent need to treat this as a dual disorder,” says Dr. Sigurd Ackerman, President and Medical Director of Silver Hill. “I am thrilled that Dr. Savage will provide our medical leadership. Her experience and expertise cannot be matched. Our approach is truly innovative. I am confident we will not only help our own patients, but develop a methodology that can be replicated—thereby helping others as well.”
Treatment is particularly complex when pain is complicated by a substance use disorder. An interdisciplinary approach is critical to help patients optimize their pain management and address addiction challenges. “Our ultimate goal is to increase patient engagement in activities they value, thereby enhancing their quality of life,” says Savage.
Diverse treatment modalities are used to develop comprehensive, individualized programs that treat co-occurring pain and addiction. All patients participate in daily exercise supervised by a physical therapist, pain education sessions, and group and individual therapy sessions.
Options for opioid withdrawal or medication assisted treatment of addiction are combined with psychosocial addiction treatment and rehabilitation, as indicated. Participation in the Twelve Step model of recovery is central to treatment. Each patient participates in Recovery and Support Follow-up Services, a unique twelve-month aftercare program that coordinates with the patient’s primary care physicians, outpatient addiction treatment, and pain care providers. Family support and education is emphasized.
The Chronic Pain and Addiction Center treatment team includes a full staff of pain specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and physical therapists. A minimum four week stay is required.