I heard from Ken yesterday. Ken completed an Accelerated Opiate Detox with us about 5 weeks earlier. The burden lifted from his shoulders is immense.

He told me he wakes up with the freedom of knowing he can be like a “normal” human. He can drink coffee, take a shower, snuggle his kids, or read his mail. He has absolutely no need to compromise his integrity or his wallet by buying pills.

Ken was using high-dose opiates. He admitted to taking as much as 24mg-36mg of Dilaudid (hydromorphone) plus 25-50 mcg of fentanyl together on most days. It all depended on what his dealer could find. Ken could afford to purchase pretty much whatever he wanted.

His opiate use a few years ago was very occasional. Until it wasn’t.

He experienced opiate withdrawal on the days he didn’t have pills, he began to justify his daily use. “The energy it gives me is unparalleled,” Ken told me. “I could get twelve hours of work done in six. I ran circles around the younger and even more experienced employees.” Ken works in the financial industry.

Ken woke up every day with three main fears.

  1. Losing his connection to his drug dealer.
  2. Someone at work finding out about his substance use disorder.
  3. Most important of all, his wife (and mother to his 2 children) discovering she was married to a lying junkie.

Ken knew that if any of these fears became a reality, he could lose everything. He was sick of lying to himself and everyone in his world. Ken took the courageous step to contact us for information about addiction treatment and our detox methods. He successfully completed his rapid detox program, opting to receive a naltrexone implant.


The Truth: There Are No Shortcuts to Restoring Energy After Opioid Withdrawal

Five weeks later, he continues to struggle in his recovery process with low energy and a little anxiety. Although he sees both conditions slowly improving.

Powerful drugs like opioids can cause the brain to receive a lot of dopamine. After stopping these opioids, it takes time for the brain to recover its energy levels. The length of time needed for recovery varies depending on different factors. The time needed depends on different factors such as:

  • quantity
  • potency
  • duration of opiate use
  • general health
  • co-morbidities

It is important for those suffering from opioid addiction to understand that an accelerated or rapid detox is not a ‘magic wand’ that restores them immediately to life prior to using opiates. But healing happens!

Tips For Restoring Energy After Opioid Withdrawal

Patients who have stopped using opiates, undergone withdrawal symptoms, and gone through the process often wonder why their energy is so low and ask about ways they might boost it. Some of the most successful strategies our patients have found to help them through the first few weeks include:

  • Sleeping. We provide our patients with medications to help with sleep after detox. Many others seek the same help from their own healthcare providers. Usually, within a month, sleep is back to normal. Many patients find success in working towards better sleep by limiting caffeine or keeping to a sleep schedule.
  • Eat well. Eating well during recovery enables your body to better repair itself. Providing our bodies with high-quality foods that supply the amino acids our brains need to make neurotransmitters is common sense. And although the Coleman Institute does not promote any particular product, many patients express appreciation for amino acid supplements.
  • Exercise. Exercise increases endorphins. Some people have told me they don’t have enough energy to exercise. Moving the body with walking or gentle yoga is an excellent beginning to self-care. As your body gets used to activity, you can consider progressing to exercise such as jogging, hiking, biking, or even swimming.
  • Talk. Working with a counselor or recovery group can be powerfully positive for your mental health. It is all too easy to be trapped by the mind’s constant messages of fear and angst to justify a return to the quick ‘fix’ of an opiate high.
  • Follow up with your healthcare provider. It is possible that low energy may be caused by other health conditions, compounding the post-detox recovery. Some doctors may supplement men’s testosterone, which can decline with extended opiate use. Patients with continued low energy may be checked for anemia or thyroid conditions.

Despite Ken’s low energy, he is filled with gratitude to have his life back. Learning about the natural progression of the brain’s healing process after an opioid detox enables him to manage his expectations. Our staff warmly looks forward to his two-month follow-up visit. We fully expect that Ken’s energy trajectory —as well as his sleep, anxiety, depression, and focus— will continue to improve, based on our experience with hundreds of patients who have undergone rapid opioid detoxification at the Coleman Institute.

Joan Shepherd, FNP