Sierra Tucson Combats Opioid Withdrawal Using Groundbreaking Wearable Neurostimulation Therapy

Sierra Tucson Combats Opioid Withdrawal Using Groundbreaking Wearable Neurostimulation Therapy

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TUCSON, AZ, May 26, 2021 — Sierra Tucson, a nationally respected provider of comprehensive residential services for adults struggling with substance use disorders and other behavioral health concerns, was the first residential treatment facility in the nation to successfully treat opioid use disorder (OUD) patients using Transcutaneous Auricular Neurostimulation (tAN®) for opioid withdrawal relief. This innovative approach to opioid withdrawal management is delivered using The Sparrow™ Therapy System — an FDA cleared, wearable device that provides safe and effective, drug-free opioid withdrawal relief with no known drug interactions or systemic side effects.

Dr. Donnie Sansom, DO, Sierra Tucson Associate Medical Director and Director of Addictions, stated, “According to 2019 data, an estimated 10.1 million people in the U.S. aged 12 or older misused opioids in the year prior. Broken down that is 9.7 million people who misused prescription pain relievers and 745,000 people who used heroin, much of that laced with deadly fentanyl.”
Dr. Sansom noted further, “Unfortunately, the trends for the 2020 year are worsening by initial accounts and reveal a sharp uptick in opioid related overdoses. As the opioid crisis continues to ravage the social landscape, Sierra Tucson is proud to partner with Spark Biomedical to help bring a promising new innovation into clinical practice in order to address a common barrier to treatment — fear of withdrawal phenomenon. Sparrow gives us a powerful new tool to combat opioid withdrawal symptoms and gives our patients a sense of empowerment in the healing process. By allowing our patients to move through this phase of treatment we are now able to more robustly engage in the critical work of helping to heal the broken spirits of those suffering from this deadly disease.”

The Sparrow Therapy System is a clinically proven, non-invasive, wearable neurostimulation treatment for Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome. The device delivers personally tailored, mild electrical signals through the skin on and around the ear — known as Transcutaneous Auricular Neurostimulation (tAN). The stimulation targets specific cranial nerve branches and activates central brain structures to release endogenous opioids (endorphins). Endorphins then fill the vacant opioid receptors to help alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms.

The Sparrow Therapy System (tAN therapy) is supported by evidence from a double-blind, randomized controlled clinical trial targeting patients with opioid use disorder. In the clinical trial, 89% of participants experienced mild to no withdrawal symptoms at 60 minutes of therapy; and one in three was symptom-free after the first day of treatment. By day two, 100% of participants sustained a clinically meaningful reduction in opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Daniel Powell, co-founder, and CEO of Spark Biomedical, Inc, developers of the Sparrow Therapy System, commented, “When we were looking for ways to help patients through the opioid crisis, we thought, ‘What if we can remove one of the biggest barriers to opioid use disorder treatment — painful withdrawal?’ The Sparrow Therapy System gives facilities like Sierra Tucson an easier opioid withdrawal treatment option enabling more of their patients to overcome the painful withdrawal, heal from opioid use disorder and achieve the better quality of life they deserve. In fact, 93% of participants in our clinical trial accepted a referral to continue addiction treatment. We are excited to see the patients at Sierra Tucson patients experience that kind of relief with the Sparrow Therapy System.”

Currently, two in every five Americans continue opioid use because they fear withdrawal1. The Sparrow Therapy System provides a new path forward for the millions of Americans dependent or abusing opioids and who are at risk of fatal overdose, depression, chronic constipation, and weakened immune systems, among other side effects.

For more information on Sierra Tucson, visit To learn more about Spark Biomedical and the Sparrow Therapy System, visit Find information on the opioid crisis at

Indication for Use

The Sparrow Therapy System is a transcutaneous nerve field stimulator intended to be used in patients experiencing opioid withdrawal in conjunction with standard symptomatic medications and other therapies for opioid withdrawal symptoms under the supervision of trained clinical personnel.

About Sierra Tucson

Located in Tucson, Arizona, Sierra Tucson is the premier residential and outpatient treatment center in the nation, treating substance use disorder, trauma-related issues, chronic pain, mood and anxiety, and co-occurring disorders. For more than 36 years, Sierra Tucson has been a place of peace, hope, and healing. On our serene, 160-acre campus, experienced professionals provide integrative, evidence-based care to help men and women achieve lasting recovery from addiction and mental illness.

About Spark Biomedical

Spark Biomedical, Inc. is a Texas-based medical device company and developer of the first drug-free, personalized, wearable solution for opioid withdrawal relief backed by evidence from a double-blind, randomized controlled clinical trial targeting patients with opioid use disorder.

The Sparrow Therapy System uses Transcutaneous Auricular Neurostimulation (tAN) to treat withdrawal symptoms by stimulating nerves on and around the ear. The wearable earpiece is designed to be worn up to 24 hours a day throughout opioid reduction or as prescribed to aid in the reduction of withdrawal symptoms.

The company’s vision to ignite a brighter future for those struggling with opioid use disorder and dependence is fueled by its unique blend of scientific expertise, technical innovation, and deep medical device industry experience.

(1)Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2019) Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States. Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS Publication N, PEP-19-5068. NSUDH Series H-54) Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statics and Quality. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from

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