Typical scenario at the Coleman Institute:

A patient and their support person arrive at the office to begin an accelerated opioid detox from heroin, fentanyl, Dilaudid®, Percocet®, Vicodin®, etc. Many patients also seek our help to come off long-acting MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment) methadone or buprenorphine products.

Heroin Withdrawal Progression and Symptoms

The patient is nervous. He or she is in the early stages of withdrawal. Many have been through withdrawal before and they are terrified to experience the grueling physical symptoms: chills, sweats, muscle pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea…to name a few. If our patient has followed our guidelines--that they can use until 6:00 pm the evening prior to starting our program - their withdrawal symptoms are generally around a 3-4 out of 10. Not horrible, but the fear of the future they are imagining, based on the past they have experienced, can catapult a patient from a 3 to a 9 pretty quickly.

Because the Coleman Institute’s providers throughout the country are leading experts in using naltrexone to treat opioid addiction, we are well prepared to address these concerns.

How Our Heroin Detox Works

Upon arrival the patient will settle up at the Front Desk and complete final paperwork and consent forms. Our Coleman Institute patients are our priority, and we want them out of discomfort as much as they want it, so we move them quickly to the ‘clinical’ side.

After vital signs, EKG, and blood-work are taken, a provider—either a nurse practitioner or a doctor will meet the patient and his/her support person. The screening form is reviewed and a brief physical assessment is performed. Medications are given which are specifically chosen to mitigate all the previously mentioned withdrawal symptoms.

It is not unusual for patients to say things like, “You don’t understand—I have a really high tolerance to medications. These aren’t going to touch my symptoms.” And every blue moon, they are right. If that’s the case, we’ve got some other tricks up our sleeves. Most often, however, when we return to their room to discuss medications with the support person, our patient has fallen asleep.

Individualized Treatment To Keep You Comfortable During Detox

At The Coleman Institute, our method for individualized treatment uses the Coleman Method. This method specifically uses both non-addictive medications to completely remove the opioids attached to your brain receptors. With the patient's comfort level in mind; this method provides the fastest, most comfortable way possible for treatment. In addition, our Accelerated Opioid Detox takes as little as three days, requires no hospital stay, and is a much safer option than attempting a detox on your own.

During the daily visits throughout the detoxification process, our providers not only assess the objective findings, but also do a thorough assessment of the subjective symptoms our patient may be experiencing. Based on how each patient is individually responding to his/her medication regimen, we will adjust the protocol

We can also provide naltrexone to accelerate the body's natural process of eliminating opioids and allow the brain to begin to heal. By using Naltrexone, it also will give the patient reduced cravings, amore importantly, if relapse happens - the medicine prevents the patient from feeling "high". In most situations, the Coleman team recommends that patients continue with Naltrexone therapy for a year after completing detox, in order to get on the right path to recovery and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Minimal Withdrawal Symptoms for an Easier Heroin Detox

We understand that with substance use, comes the potential development of significant psychological dependence, and even addiction. More so, when patients are using opioids for a longer amount of time and in larger amounts. For all instances, we know that withdrawal should be handled by an experienced medical professional and with the right therapy and treatment. For our patients suffering with withdrawal, we provide an assisted withdrawal process combined with access to recovery support services.

In addition, our experienced and licensed professionals recommend additional resources that can aid in their recovery in order to take that first step towards a drug-free life.

Tips for Coping with Opioid Withdrawal

  • Have someone you trust accompany you during your treatment (a family member, spouse, close friend, companion) as an added support system
  • Take all prescribed medications (Naltrexone) as prescribed and call us directly with any questions or concerns
  • Avoid surrounding yourself with others that use substances while recovering or those who may not support your sobriety
  • Follow a healthy regimen in eating healthy foods and drinking plenty of fluids
  • Implement medication, exercise, or a calm environment into your daily routine
  • Recognize that withdrawal is part of the process and that The Coleman Institute offers support during your road to recovery

  • While many patients report a couple hours of discomfort, they state that the medication and a hot shower do get them through it. They generally report about 22 hours of feeling reasonably comfortable.

    We welcome questions from the support people and our patients! We all know that this is not the kind of doctor’s visit when you go in for a cold or sore throat, or even to get a physical or be started on blood pressure medication. The practice of addiction medicine is a unique area of specialization, and we love to field questions and have discussions throughout—and following—a detox at the Coleman Institute, for any concerns that may arise later. There is no stupid question when it comes to finding the right way to detox!!


    Please give a call if we can address any general or specific questions as you gather data to find your best strategy for an opioid-free life.

    Joan R. Shepherd, FNP