After 8 years of use Ramon, age 56, decided to stop taking methadone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Was it essential or was it elective? In Ramon’s case, it was a bit of both.
Ramon’s story began neck and back surgery followed by several years of pain medication. A move to a rural community meant the nearest pain management doctor was over an hour’s drive. Eventually, Ramon resigned to drive 45 minutes a day to a methadone clinic.
A Difficult Medication Regimen
While Ramon got along well with the staff at the clinic, it was difficult for them to personalize his medication regimen. He has a highly active job that involves a lot of traveling. This meant he needed to leave his home by 4:00 am to be first at the clinic so he could then travel to his working destination. He didn’t want to be in pain or in withdrawal, but he had to be alert enough to drive and function well.
Experimenting with the “just right dose” was challenging. For most of his time at the methadone clinic, Ramon was on 80 mg a day. But at one point, frustrated with his situation, he weaned himself down as low as 20 mg daily. But it was not sustainable. Ramon was in a perpetual state of chills, diarrhea, and muscle cramping.
Detoxing During Coronavirus
When the coronavirus began sweeping across the United States, all the patients at the methadone clinic were given take-home doses of their medications, amounting to a week or several week’s worth. The staff checked in with them regularly by phone and all patients were required to be readily available for these calls.
When he learned he was expected to come to the clinic (curing social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates) for random urine screening, Ramon’s frustration peaked. Not every client at the methadone clinic was as mindful of social distancing and hygiene as Ramon was.
“I don’t have the kind of life that I can stop everything at any time and drive 45 minutes away at the drop of a hat…and I was terrified to go near that clinic with the hundreds of patients they serve.”
Ramon had tried to stop methadone himself in the past and knew he couldn’t do it on his own. His wife searched “Rapid Methadone Detox” online and found the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine. He gave us a call.
A Personalized Detox Experience . . . Even During COVID-19
For over 25 years, Coleman Addiction Medicine has specialized in helping people off a spectrum of opioid medications including:
- Oxycodone and hydrocodone products
- Hydromorphone and oxymorphone
We have even helped detox off poppy seed tea. Detoxes are completed with the use of Naltrexone. This long-acting, non-addictive opioid blocker reduces cravings and helps prevent relapse.
By day 8 of Ramon’s detox experience, he was free from methadone. He felt like a man who was released from prison. But a few days after his detox, he called the office and told me he had no energy and he couldn’t sleep.
Both of these conditions, the lack of energy after an opioid detox and insomnia, are extremely common. In Ramon’s case, his age and the length of time he had been on opioids combined with the methadone itself, made it more difficult.
Real Tips to Replenish Energy After Detox
While there is no magic pill available to restore energy after an opioid detox, but there are several strategies that can help replenish energy levels:
- Set yourself up for successful sleep. Avoid caffeinated products. Get rid of anything in your bedroom that lights up — even your little green charging light can make the brain think it’s time to wake up. In Ramon’s case, I prescribed some strong (non-addictive) sleeping medication.
- Indulge in nature. Get outside and walk — slowly and mindfully — letting yourself be captivated by nature. Nature is scientifically proven to make you healthier and happier.
- Practice journaling. Keeping a journal of your daily thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, aspirations, bits of learned wisdom is not only helpful while you are doing it, but will be so powerful to look back on as you progress through sobriety.
- Join an on-line recovery community. Even if you aren’t a ‘meeting kind of person’, hearing how others are reaching out for help or to share solutions, can cultivate a mindset of gratitude and hope. AA, NA, SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery…just to name a few.
Is an opioid detox essential or elective? If you’d like to discuss your situation further, please give us a call at 877-773-3869.
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP