Addiction is a difficult disease. It can be isolating, lonely, and painful. Unlike many other diseases, addiction is often paired with secrets and lies. It is hard to picture a life without addiction when you don’t know what treatment solutions are out there.
Here are 3 addictions solutions that can turn your life around.
Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
A few weeks ago we met with a man who had been treated by his primary care physician for back pain for about 15 years. Rob had had multiple surgeries over the years, and he was a strictly rule-following patient. He’d never lost his medication, reported that he had dropped it in the toilet, or said that it had been stolen. When his medical office tested his urine, it always showed exactly what was expected. As such an ideal patient, when his doctor retired, Rob assumed that another doctor in his practice would gladly work with him. To his consternation, not one of the other doctors was willing to take a ‘Pain Management’ patient on board, even one with such a stellar track record.
Rob worked hard to line up a replacement. Although had not run out of his medicine and experienced withdrawals before, he was fully aware of what opiate withdrawals looked like from movies and TV documentaries.
Can You Safely and Suddenly Stop Taking Opiates?
Rob’s health insurer’s website listed one in-network Pain Management physician that was within 40 miles of his house. It wasn’t a convenient option, but it was better than nothing. Rob was shocked to find himself put on a 4-month waiting list to see his new doctor. In exasperation, while searching online, he came across the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine. Stopping his pain medicine was not what Rob had set out to do…and yet, it was something that he had discussed periodically with his wife.
Besides wanting to avoid nasty withdrawal symptoms, people who have become physically dependent on pain medicine like hydrocodone, oxycodone, or tramadol and similar medication, are often afraid to stop because of the original, underlying condition that caused them pain and started them on these painkillers in the first place.
What Kind of Non-Opioid Alternatives Are There for Pain Management?
The physicians in the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine have helped hundreds of patients safely get off their pain medicines in relative comfort, and many patients have found—many to their surprise—that their pain is now minimal, and for others very tolerable, especially with the help of non-opioid pain management alternatives. In fact, a number of the doctors who use the Coleman Method to help patients transition off of opioids are pain management specialists themselves.
Our Accelerated Opioid Detox off of prescription pain medications is usually a 4- to 6-day outpatient process. We also help patients who are ready to transition their Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) off of buprenorphine or methadone products and onto the non-addictive opioid blocker Naltrexone. (These substances usually require an 8- or 9-day time frame for a rapid detox since they have a much longer half-life.)
Treatments for Alcohol Use Disorder
“The beautiful clarity of zero.” This was a wonderful term that I heard from a person in long term recovery as he told me why he chooses not to drink alcohol anymore.
“I tried drinking ‘moderately’ in the past. I planned out my week, determining how much and when I could drink, and trying to follow that. Unfortunately, once I tasted the alcohol, my plan faded or I decided to ‘update my plan.’ Maybe instead of 2 drinks per day, I’ll go with 3 today and 1 tomorrow. But stopping at 3 wasn’t easy, and I usually ended up not changing my long term pattern. It made me wake up in the morning feeling hung over, dejected, and disappointed in myself. Ultimately, it became much simpler to embrace ‘The Beautiful Clarity of Zero.’”
The doctors who participate in the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Orange County, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and Tampa offer safe, outpatient treatment for people that want to stop drinking and who could be at risk if they suddenly stopped drinking on their own. At the end of our 3-day Outpatient Alcohol Detox, we use long-acting naltrexone, which we have specialized in for over 20 years. Naltrexone reduces the cravings and impulse to drink alcohol. One former patient told me that when he used naltrexone, “the liquor store might as well be a shoe store”.
Treatment for Benzodiazepine Dependence
Among substances that cause physical dependence, benzodiazepines can be among the most challenging to stop. Benzos are a class of drugs that include Ativan® (lorazepam), Xanax® (alprazozlam), and Valium® (diazepam).
Almost without exception, the people who seek us out looking for help detoxing off of benzodiazepines have been using the medicine strictly as prescribed by their physician. Many folks received these prescriptions to help with insomnia or anxiety. Unfortunately, while many people are able stop using these medications without much difficulty, others face a huge challenge.
As a person’s body develops a tolerance to these substances, it no longer gets the same result from the same dose. Without increasing the dose, a person may face withdrawal symptoms. These can include: increased tension and anxiety, irritability, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, hand tremors, sweating, difficulty concentrating, and nausea.
The Rapid Benzodiazepine Detox offered at the Denver and Richmond offices uses tiny doses of flumazenil to safely remove the benzodiazepine molecules from the brain’s receptors. Other medicines help prevent seizures and aid with sleep. Just like our Accelerated Opioid Detox programs, this procedure requires that each patient be supported throughout the detox by a support person(s). A Rapid Benzodiazepine Detox typically lasts 10 days.
The Coleman Network Can Help You Find Freedom From Your Addiction
Each patient we help has a unique story and reason for getting started with an addictive substance. The first step in changing a story and writing a new chapter is to safely get off these medications with the help of experienced medical professionals. I feel honored to be part of such a competent and caring team that has been helping patients from across the US for over two decades.
If you or someone you care about is grappling with physical dependence on opioid medication, benzodiazepines, and/or alcohol, please call us at (877) 773-3869. (And—yes—a lot of people need a dual-detox since they are using several of these substances, so don’t let that stop you from calling us!)
In the meantime, please stay safe!
Joan R. Shepherd, FNP