ReVIDA takes on opioid abuse

Hank Hayes • Mar 18, 2019 at 8:30 AM

DUFFIELD, Va. – Imagine for a moment that your business model, for the most part, revolves around one person – the opioid abuser.

At least that’s the case for ReVIDA Recovery, a privately held Nashville-based company setting up shop in our region with a number of rehabilitation centers.

“I would like the public to know that opioid abuse is a disease,” said ReVIDA Chief Operating Officer Ed Ohlinger during an interview at the company’s Duffield location. “There are very few great interventions or treatment for opioid abuse disorder. I spent the first 15 years of my career in the substance use industry treating all sorts of people with chemical dependency, including people who were on opioids and treating them through traditional outlets or step up. When you get to the opioid abuse disorder profile of patients, they do very, very poorly in traditional models of treatment. Relapse rates are north of 90 percent.

“Changing your life when you have opioid abuse disorder is a monumental task. The damage to the neuropsychiatric receptors creates horrific problems around withdrawal and I’ve seen it with my own eyes. It’s the flu on steroids – horrible headache, nausea and muscle pain – an inability to function. When you get to that point, the only remedy is more opioids.”

Ohlinger previously worked for Acadia Healthcare for 15 years, where he worked in behavioral healthcare and was regional director. ReVIDA just had the grand opening of its location in Wytheville, Va., and all three locations in Virginia are certified with the Virginia ARTS program, meaning they accept Medicaid patients at those clinics. According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, only one in 10 people struggling with opioid use disorder receives treatment due to barriers such as lack of insurance or high out-of-pocket costs.

ReVIDA’s rehabilitation strategy, according to Ohlinger, involves using the drug suboxone.

“A lot of the general public doesn’t understand that the medication suboxone alleviates the withdrawal symptoms, reduces the cravings and also limits the ability for opioids to work in your system,” Ohlinger explained. “If you’re on a stable dose of suboxone and you decide to take opioids, you get no euphoric benefit from that. The suboxone blocks that receptor that allows the opioid to get to the pleasure center of the brain. The medication quiets the brain and when the brain is quiet and people are stable, people are thinking clearly and begin to function better. That’s when the whole behavioral component of what we do can work effectively.”

Ohlinger also addressed these questions:

What’s your catchment area?

“There’s probably a 75-mile circle where patients will come. Part of that is just the fact there are not great volumes (of people), especially when you go up into Virginia.”

Is the opioid patient your primary source of business?

“That is our patient population. We treat opioid abuse disorder.”

How did Virginia’s Medicaid expansion help your business?

“It’s the best Medicaid plan in the country. They found a way to push those (behavioral health care) services into the plan. They viewed opioid abuse disorder as a chronic disease, meaning once you have it, you have it forever. It was developed by very insightful people who have a high level of understanding for this disorder and how it’s just a little bit difficult.”

What does the future look like?

ReVIDA founder and CEO Lee Dilworth said the company will continue to grow.

“The first thing we’ll focus on is the current treatment centers,” he said. “We’ve got the ability to help more people, but then we will add more centers. We don’t know how many.”