Perhaps your doctor has cut you off from your Percocet®, Roxicet®, Vicodin®, Dilaudid®, or other morphine-type pain medications. Perhaps you have become involved with using street drugs such as heroin or fentanyl. If you are reading this, it is likely you want to stop using these drugs, and maybe you have even tried to get off these drugs before.

I haven’t experienced withdrawal personally, but working in the field of addiction medicine for many years, here’s what I know: abrupt withdrawal from opioids involves diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramping, jerking painful muscle spasms, runny nose, sneezing, and chills.

I know this can last for up to ten days for a short-acting opioid, and much much longer for methadone or for buprenorphine products like Suboxone® or Zubsolv®.

I have talked to some people in long-term remission from opioid use disorder who believe it is important for an addicted person to go through withdrawal without the relief provided by medication. Their belief is staunchly from the school of “No Pain, No Gain.”

But what I see over and over again at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine are people who put off stopping their substance use for years because of the terror of withdrawal. And it’s hard to blame them.

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So when the first tentative call comes to our office from someone wondering about our method for detoxing off opiates, I hear either:

1. Relief – sign me up now!

– OR –

2. Skepticism – as in, this is too good to be true.

Without giving away the specifics, I will explain to you why the rapid or accelerated opioid detox at the Coleman Institute is the easiest way to get off opioids.

First of all, this is an outpatient setting. No hospitalization bills, no dangerous general anesthesia, or the need to be kept apart from your family.

We use a minimum of five medications that specifically address the worst of the withdrawal experience. This combination of medications has been meticulously utilized and perfected over the twenty plus years that Dr. Coleman has been helping people reach sobriety.

Painful muscle cramping is relieved with pain medication and muscle relaxants. Nausea and vomiting are addressed with anti-emetics. Sleep—or lack thereof—is taken care of by strong sedating medications. Anxiety is dealt with by short courses of a benzodiazepine. Central-acting agonists reduce other worrisome symptoms: chills, sweats, runny nose, goose-bump flesh, and more.

And if those don’t work, we’ve got other tricks up our collective sleeves.

Because of this powerful effective combination of medications, it is imperative that our patients are with a support person throughout their medically-supervised withdrawal process. The support person’s role is to be with their loved one 24/7, bring them to their daily appointment, and keep track of and administer the medications.

The practitioner working with the patient and his/her support person will review in detail exactly how the medications are to be taken. We provide a fail-proof chart to keep it all in order, and we review this daily. We are on-call when the office is closed to answer any questions the patient or support person may have.

Don’t let the fear of withdrawal keep you from dealing with your opioid addiction. Please call us with any questions. Our goal is to earn your confidence by providing the safest, most effective—and by all counts, easiest detox available.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP

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