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These were not my words, but the words of a patient who completed a 5-day opioid detox with us a few weeks ago. A couple of years ago, his detox would probably have been 3 days—he believed he was using a gram or a gram and a half of heroin a day—but when fentanyl was discovered in his urine, the length of his outpatient detox was increased.

This is both for his comfort and his safety. At the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine, we have been getting people off opioids safely and comfortably for over twenty years, and the recent ubiquitous presence of fentanyl has definitely caused a change in our protocols.

I am always curious about how a patient finds us. Tony (not his real name) said those were the exact words he had typed into Google to figure out how to get off heroin: The easiest and fastest way to detox off opioids. He had also typed in: the most painless way to get off opioids.

While the opioid detox is accelerated from a 7-10 day cold turkey experience, I am reluctant to tell an inquiring patient that our detox is easy. That being said, we do all we can to make it is the most comfortable experience possible for people desiring to get off drugs like Percocet®, Vicodin®, Fentanyl, Opana®, Roxicodone®, Dilaudid®, Methadone, Suboxone®, and of course, heroin.

Tony himself was an extremely satisfied customer. Having detoxed cold turkey on several occasions in the past, he couldn’t bear the thought of doing it again that way. These past painful memories kept him locked into continued use. He had tried kratom and subs to detox himself, but just couldn’t make it last. Finally, in desperation, typing the search words into the computer, he found the Coleman Institute.

I don’t want to say Tony ‘breezed through’ his detox, but I will say, it was one of the smoothest detoxes I have worked with, and I’ve been doing this for over eleven years. We tell our patients to expect to feel a couple hours of relative discomfort and about twenty to twenty two hours of feeling okay.

Our process is to use micro-doses of naltrexone each day to displace the opioid from the receptor. The naltrexone is the workhorse of the operation and it is not snake oil—as the naltrexone takes the place of the opioid on the receptor, patients are likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms.

Sometimes I suggest that patients visualize a huge boulder being pushed out of a hole and being replaced with a beautiful tree. By the end of one of our Accelerated Opioid Detoxes, a ‘forest’ of naltrexone populates the receptors, leaving no empty spaces for opioids to land.

In Tony’s case, he had never before had five comfort medications offered during a detox. (His father, the chosen support person who stayed with him throughout the entire process, admitted he had once purchased 2 fifths of vodka to get his son through a tough detox.) Tony’s worst detox symptoms were chills and a jerking sensation in his arms and shoulders. Again, these did not last more that two hours, nor were they debilitating. The medication and several warm showers helped greatly with his symptoms. Plus, our staff is available 24/7 if either the patient or the support person is concerned or has questions.

Social media platforms such as Google and Facebook have become very restrictive about allowing substance abuse businesses to advertise these days.

This is the good news and the bad news.

Finding a reputable place to help someone responsibly and safely get through an extremely difficult process is even more challenging, yet hopefully, some of the bad players are booted out. The Coleman Institute started with a single office in Richmond, Virginia, and because of its unique approach—providing an accelerated, outpatient process using naltrexone as its main MAT (medication-assisted treatment)—we have grown to train providers in 12 different states, with at least two new offices to open later this year.

Perhaps your search will end here, as well. While I won’t promise a painless and easy opioid detox, I do promise a highly skilled, compassionate staff that will provide you with the safest—and likely most comfortable—opioid detox on the market. Please call if we can answer any questions.

Joan R. Shepherd FNP

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