I have written this before in many blogs, and (as long as I continue to write) this will remain a constant: my inspiration comes directly from our patients. Although I change personal details to protect their privacy, the core of their stories is what moves me and what I deem so worthy of sharing. Yesterday I was particularly touched by two patients: “Adam” and “Eve”.

Struggling with Opioid Dependency

Adam is 35. He has a several year history of struggling greatly with an addiction to opioids. From pot to pills to heroin to fentanyl, Adam has dodged multiple overdose bullets and experienced legal, medical, emotional, and social consequences.

He grew up in a family that abused drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t until he took part in a recovery program during a prison stint, that he became aware there was actually a different way to live. He has aspired to that ever since. But it hasn’t been smooth or easy. Adam has experienced many bumps in the road on his journey to recovery.

Family Impacted by Opioid Dependency

He was released from a six-month period of incarceration last year. Before going in, his girlfriend of many years, Sally became pregnant with their first child, a son they named Gabe. Sally loves Adam, but she did not want him living with them. She wants Adam to have a lot of recovery time under his belt before they “play house” together. Adam, who is incredibly respectful of this, moved into a recovery house when he got released.

Finding the Path to Recovery with Naltrexone

There are so many aspects that need to be addressed when one is casting off the chaos of a life controlled by addiction to opioids. Following treatment, many behavioral and lifestyle changes need to take place, which often begins with a recovery residence. These homes can help provide a spectrum of services, including structure, comradery, access to recovery resources, help with transportation and employment, and more. Adam found a place where he felt safe and supported and right away, became engaged in the life of this community.

Adam also very wisely came to the Coleman Institute for monthly Vivitrol injections. For those who don’t know, Vivitrol is a form of long-acting naltrexone. This is a medication used for people who have an Opioid or Alcohol Use Disorder. For opioids, it will block the actual opioid receptors, rendering them ineffective. For alcohol, it will diminish the cravings and impulse to drink. It is a wonderful option as a Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioids and alcohol.

The other 2 forms of Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid use are buprenorphine and methadone. Although these treatments have their own pros and cons, many people prefer naltrexone because it does not create a physical dependence like the other two. The hurdle with using naltrexone is that all opioids have to be ‘washed out’ prior to receiving it in order to prevent precipitated withdrawal. However, Naltrexone therapy is a safer, much more comfortable detox treatment option.

“Washing out” the opioids, AKA Accelerated Opioid Detox, is what the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine has specialized in for many many years prior. This is discussed in a different blog article posted here.


Ongoing Commitment to Recovery

When Adam came earlier this week for his monthly injection and check in, I was surprised to learn that he’d been asked to leave his recovery house. He admitted that he’d used cocaine twice but said no one there even knew about that. He was suspected of bringing in the fentanyl that caused another resident to overdose. Adam adamantly denied doing this, and I believe him.

I could feel myself getting tense as I listened to this story. Adam has made so much progress and is a full time carpenter with plans to learn HVAC. He has so much to live for, and he adores Gabe and Sally. He had been made a scapegoat.

“How are you handling it?” I asked. “And are you feeling resentful? Angry?” He looked at me and smiled wryly and said simply, “I can’t afford to carry a resentment. If I do, I’ll relapse, and it will kill me. Sally’s letting me stay with her until I can find another recovery house.”

This is how this old nurse practitioner was inspired by a young man living with and learning from his Substance Use Disorder.

Outpatient Accelerated Opioid Detox

All individuals struggling with dependency deserve a life free from addiction. Recovery from addiction to opioids is not something that can be done alone. Although the journey isn’t always easy, the Coleman Institute is here to help. From detox, to ongoing treatment and the support journey after, we are here to help guide those suffering from addiction to opioids to a happy, healthy future.

Joan Shepherd FNP