Restoring Hope: The Gift of Detox

It doesn’t happen for me every day. But it definitely happened yesterday.

As I moved from room to room and patient to patient, I heard one success story after another.

Kevin has been off fentanyl since the middle of April. He is sleeping well and doing home renovation projects he’d delayed for years. Now he has the energy, time, and the money to do so for the first time.

Setting Recovery Up for Success

Michael hasn’t had any alcohol since June when he was knocked off balance by Corona—the virus, not the beer. While trying to balance the stresses of his young children and his anxious wife, vodka seemed to help…until it clearly didn’t. He had started with orange juice and vodka around 10:00 a.m. to settle his mild tremors. It made him feel better to see lots of online memes indicating that he wasn’t the only one using alcohol to blot out concerns around Covid.

Lauren has been coping with the birthday of her beloved, deceased husband while sober for the first time on this day in six years. She stopped taking the oxycodone pills (that turned out to actually be fentanyl) 8 months ago. She has a small circle of friends who totally get why she took extra mind-numbing substances on this day every year.

Justin hasn’t had a drink in 5 months.  A quiet man, he shared yesterday that he now understands why his wife didn’t stay in their marriage. With his mind affected by alcohol, he tended to play the victim. He viewed his wife, his parents, and his job as the sources of negativity in his life. Although occasionally has some cravings for alcohol, he is quick to build on his strengthening belief system that his life is fundamentally better without alcohol. He is a consistent attendee of Zoom sessions of 12 Step We Agnostics.

What Perfect Storm is Present When a Person Relapses?

Will these folks be able to remain sober? People use substances for a multitude of reasons.  Sometimes a prescription or a habit has led to physical dependence.  In other cases the substance helped mask physical pain or emotional trauma.  The brain creates potent memories of the dopamine rush driven by these addictive substances.  What causes relapse?

In another nearby room were Jeff and his sister. From Maryland, Jeff had detoxed at the Coleman Addiction Medicine a few years back. He stopped using opioids for about 5 ½ years and built a happy life during that period.  Although politics and Covid have dominated the media recently, the opioid epidemic continues to burn through our communities. Jeff has lost five friends to opiate addiction in recent months. The thing that most surprised me is that while 2 overdosed, 3 of the 5 committed suicide. Their unhappiness about their substance use and the associated arc of their lives contributed mightily to their despair.  In a moment of weakness while dealing with all these losses, Jeff started using again.

 The farther away the drug, the better the chance of not using, but it is crucial build practices that increase the odds of success. Situations that create anxiety or powerful negative emotions can drive someone quickly from sobriety back to using. It is massively important to understand how the brain acts when re-exposed to a dopamine-stimulating substance.

Medical Detox for Substance Use Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder

Coleman Addiction Medicine in Fair Lawn, New Jersey can help you begin, or return to–a life of long-term recovery. We focus on efficient and safe outpatient detoxes off opioids like heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, kratom, poppy seed tea, methadone, and more. We also help people who need a medical detox off of alcohol.

A signature feature of the Coleman Method over the past 20 years has been the use of long acting naltrexone at the end of the detox. Naltrexone is a pure opioid blocker, so it occupies the opioid receptors and prevents opioids from attaching.  A primary reason that people choose naltrexone over buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder is that it does not create physical dependence. In other words, when a person is ready to stop taking this particular form of Medication-Assisted Treatment, they don’t face withdrawal.  With our long-acting naltrexone implant, patients often report cravings reduction for up to 8 weeks, during which time they don’t have to come to the office for daily, weekly, or biweekly urine screens. During this pandemic, the fewer trips to a medical facility, the better.

Is naltrexone as effective as buprenorphine? Yes, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

“A NIDA study showed that once treatment is initiated, a buprenorphine/naloxone combination and an extended release naltrexone formulation are similarly effective in treating opioid use disorder. Because naltrexone requires full detoxification, initiating treatment among active opioid users was more difficult with this medication. However, once detoxification was complete, the naltrexone formulation had a similar effectiveness as the buprenorphine/naloxone combination.”  Source 

Part of the uniqueness of the Coleman Method for detoxing is that we are able to successfully detox almost all of our patients and transition them onto long-acting naltrexone.

Long-Acting Naltrexone for Recovery

Naltrexone also helps our patients dealing with Alcohol Use Disorder, although it does so in a different manner.  Naltrexone reduces the desire to drink and the pleasure from doing so.  Even though it doesn’t make a person ill if they drink, it does make it easier for them to stop drinking.

I believe that all the patients I described above can maintain their path of sobriety with appropriate focus and attention. Perhaps the greatest contribution Coleman Addiction Medicine can make in people’s lives through our accelerated detox programs is restoring hope. 

If you or your loved one wants to learn more about the Coleman Method, please call us at 877-773-3869. We wish you the very best.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP

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