I've been a nurse practitioner for about 16 years, almost nine of those at The Coleman Institute. When I interviewed with Dr. Coleman, I understood he needed a family nurse practitioner.

It was a nice setting--close enough that I could walk or bike if I chose--and he seemed like a cool, laid-back Kiwi and a reasonable boss. I was strongly considering the position when he informed me that he actually ran two businesses under one roof: in addition to the family practice he also had a substance abuse program where he did outpatient rapid opiate detoxes.

My pretty immediate response was to thank him politely for the interview, and continue looking at other career possibilities. I just didn't think I wanted to work with that population. With some hesitation I agreed to shadow him in the clinical setting.

A few days later I returned to the office. It was clean, bustling, and friendly. We saw a couple of standard family practice patients, and then I followed Dr. Coleman into our first Coleman Institute visit.

Scott, age 22, was lying on the exam table, one knee bent, his other long leg dangling over the edge. He wore a ball cap and a hoodie. Both his parents were with him and they stood when Dr. Coleman walked in. His mom burst into an ear-to-ear grin, his dad looked self-consciously from his feet to Dr. Coleman, also grinning. Scott raised himself to his elbows, looked at Dr. Coleman and with slow smile and they fist-bumped each other.

This wasn't what I expected.

In Scott's senior year of high school in one of the last soccer games of the season, he broke his femur. He had surgery and he received prescription opioids. Long after his surgeon stopped prescribing, Scott couldn't stop taking them. Street pills turned to heroin.

Scott's story is now an all too familiar story, although nine years ago I still wasn't aware of the devastating consequences of over-prescribing narcotic pain medications. I did not know their expansive reach and how many families were being affected.

Today of course, my awareness is at a whole new level. I meet dozens of families every month who seek our assistance to save the life of their child-or spouse or grandchild or sibling or friend - and help release them from the grip of opiate (or benzo or alcohol) addiction.

When I met Scott, he was six months clean from opiates. He was at the office to receive his 3rd Naltrexone implant. I am humbled and delighted to say that since I said "yes" to working with Dr. Coleman, I have seen that smile again and again on the faces of countless people.

It's an incredible privilege to be part of a team that has the expertise, experience, competence and compassion to safely help people through an outpatient opiate detox. Please don't hesitate to call our team at 877-773-3869 if you have questions. Our detox which includes Naltrexone therapy may not be the right fit for you or your loved one, but we can address your concerns and help steer you toward the appropriate place for help.

Joan Shepherd, FNP