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Healthcare providers often prescribe opiates and narcotics to relieve the symptoms associated with sickle cell disease. However, the risk of addiction and side effects of these treatments can often lead to more pain down the road. Here at Atrium Health, we aim to help patients manage sickle cell disease in a way that improves quality of life, without compromising their treatment.

Recently, we saw an increase of sickle cell patients visiting the emergency department with similar symptoms consistent with opiate withdrawal - pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, low-grade fever. This led our sickle cell and addiction experts to begin working together to research the use of buprenorphine to wean people off narcotics while effectively managing their pain.

Today, Atrium Health's sickle cell patients spend less time in the hospital and more time getting on with their lives. Watch Atrium Health's Dr. Ify Osunkwo discuss this treatment on Charlotte's ABC affiliate WSOC-TV.