Safe Start Program

Safe Start Program

A scientifically-proven tool to help those addicted to opioids break free from addiction.


In 2018, Cumberland Heights began offering patients the use of medications in support of their opioid use disorder. The development of our Safe Start program came out of an increase in the observed frequency, severity, and fatality associated with illicit opioid use.”

Over the last 10 years, we have witnessed the tragic effects of opioids throughout our communities. According to the CDC, in 2018, an estimated 67,367 people died from opioid-related overdoses, with an estimated 31,335 overdose deaths attributed to the abuse of synthetic narcotics (fentanyl). Within Tennessee, an estimated 1,307 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2018. These deaths accounted for a rate of 19.9 deaths per 100,000 persons, which remains higher than the national average of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons (NIDA, 2020). Additionally, Tennessee has seen increases in both fentanyl related overdose deaths (77 deaths in ’12 to 827 deaths in ’18) and heroin related overdose deaths (50 deaths in ’12 to 369 deaths in ’18) (CDC, 2020). These data highlight the serious and fatal nature of opioids. Compounding these issues further, the lethality to which these drugs can affect those who use them are extensive. For example, fentanyl is 80-100 times more powerful than morphine (DEA, 2019). Given these observations, our teams remain committed to consistently reviewing our practice to effectively provide the most efficacious treatments possible.

The Safe Start Program

Our response to the opioid epidemic includes the use of pharmacotherapies. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has provided approval markers for three pharmacotherapy medications in the treatment of Opioid Use Disorders (OUD). These medications are known throughout behavioral healthcare as Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT). Here at Cumberland Heights, the application of these medications is known as Safe Start. Our leadership, medical, and multi-disciplinary clinical treatment teams have adopted the use of Naltrexone and Buprenorphine as a part of treatment options available for those patients affected by OUD. We believe that the successful use of medication can increase the opportunity for our patients to remain abstinent and build successful trajectories of recovery remission.

We created Safe Start, a recommended medication-assisted treatment to anyone diagnosed with a moderate to severe opioid abuse disorder

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Health Statistics (2020). Multiple Case of Death 1999-2018 on CDC WONDER Online Database. Retrieved from:
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) (2019). Drug Facts – Fentanyl. Retrieved from:
  • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (2020). Tennessee: Opioid-Involved Deaths and Related Harms. Retrieved from
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2018). Medications for Opioid Use Disorder: For Healthcare Professionals, Policymakers, Patients, and Families (TIP 63). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Medication Assisted Treatment

America’s opioid epidemic is not impossible to overcome. With programs like Safe Start, individuals who have developed an opioid use disorder can begin the journey to recovery. To learn more, call 800-646-9998 today

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