Here at the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine, we know that drug addiction is a disease and not your fault. Drug addiction is devastating and affects an awful lot of people. Since 2002, we’ve helped over 6,000 people navigate towards recovery, and we can help them during this process. What I’d like to do is explain is our accelerated opioid detox, and how we do it. I find that when patients and family members really understand how this process works, it helps them navigate it easier because it makes sense to them.
Explore the recap of Dr. Pete Coleman’s YouTube video, “Dr. Coleman Explains Accelerated Opioid Detox using the Coleman Method” here.
How Do Opioids Work?
All opioid drugs; such as; Fentanyl, heroin, methadone, Oxycontin; work on the endorphin receptors in the brain.
The endorphin system is in our brain to give us energy and pain relief if we’re experiencing pain. Artificial drugs like heroin, overpower the endorphin system and they give people a much stronger effect. This effect can feel great, but when it wears off, it leaves them feeling horrible. So they’ve got to keep using. And if they stop without detoxing, we call that stopping “cold turkey” which is painful and often dangerous.
Trying to Detox Cold Turkey
One way to think about this is when patients come to us, they have a brain opioid level.
Most patients still have traces of a drug or opioid in the brain. When they do drugs, their level increases. When it starts to wear off, they have to start the cycle all over again. But if they get into a situation where they can’t continue to take drugs, and stop abruptly, they go through what’s called cold turkey. Over the next seven to 10 days, those drugs leave the system. It’s so painful that most people can’t make it through their body detoxing. People will steal, sell drugs, borrow money, lie, or do whatever it takes to keep using.
More like this: Restoring Hope: The Gift of Detox
Ultra Rapid Detox
In the past to get people through that process, we used the anesthesia detox method called Ultra Rapid Detox. This is extremely painful. Some people still do this, but at the Coleman Network for Addiction Medicine, we’ve found a much better solution.
Patients are given naltrexone with the Ultra Rapid Detox, which is a blocking drug. In about five minutes, it pushes all of the drugs off the receptors. The idea is the patient would wake up and say, “Wow. I feel great! Thanks, doc.” When in reality, they felt horrible, and the shock to the system created some serious problems where people had to be hospitalized.
Accelerated Opioid Detox
Today we use the Accelerated Opioid Detox to detox patients off of drugs or opioids.
How Accelerated Opioid Detox Works
We typically have people start the process the night before, so when they start the detox they are already in mild withdrawal.
We give them comfort drugs and sedatives to get them through the first day.
One day three, they’re far into the detox process and we can remove the rest of the drugs out over about six to eight hours.
Over the past 12 years, we’ve even improved the Accelerated Opioid Detox process by giving micro doses of naltrexone. We give a little dose of naltrexone daily and now we’re putting people on this curve so that by the end of the treatment, it’s easy. Patients are already almost completely detoxed, and we complete it by 1:00 or 2:00 on an outpatient basis. It is amazing how comfortable patients feel even though all the drugs are gone.
At the end of the detox process, we put people on naltrexone which blocks the opioid receptors and it helps the brain heal. Naltrexone also helps to decrease cravings, and it helps if they do have a relapse.
For two months, we use naltrexone implants, to provide a low level of naltrexone, and sometimes we also put them on a one-month injection of Vivitrol.
Patients are amazed at how good they feel. Most patients express that they have no cravings when they come back for follow-up visits. They feel like they’re able to move on with their lives and concentrate on therapy, and they’re starting to feel great.