To choose nursing or medicine as a profession comes with the reality that, at some points in your career, you will likely be covering weekends and holidays. So when my children were young, I had to take my turns doing shifts on Thanksgiving and Christmas for many years.

As much as I loved being home during a holiday, from the beginning I was always grateful to be the one "wearing the uniform" rather than being the patient when I did have to work. Being in the position to help someone who has to be stuck in a hospital over the holidays could be pretty gratifying.

I still feel that way.

We schedule patients at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine for Accelerated Opiate and Alcohol Detoxes over the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s holidays. Clearly these patients would rather be elsewhere, not having this illness of addiction take over their holiday time. For many of these people, treatment during a holiday is the best way to fit it into their schedules. For them, it has become a life or death situation. They know they are losing their dreams, their families, their professions — their very lives — as long as they continue to use.

Among the many things I am grateful for are my colleagues. To a person, I can’t imagine working with a group of people who are more compassionate and knowledgeable about helping people detox off opioids, including the oxycodone family, hydrocodone and hydromorphone products, fentanyl, heroin, buprenorphine, and methadone. We also have a growing number of people coming in to detox off of kratom.


Some of our detoxes are pretty straightforward: People are choosing to get off varying amounts of opioid pain medication, and the protocol goes smoothly. Many families come to us with more complications and complexities. Lots of bottled up emotions can erupt when a loved one is going through a detox, and it is sometimes difficult for a family member to ‘love the patient and hate the disease.’

We get it.

If the holidays are the best timeframe for you or a loved one to enter 2020 drug- or alcohol-free, please give our office a call and find out how we can best work around you and your family’s schedule. We are committed to being here for you 365 days a year. And because we are an outpatient clinic, you and your support people or persons can enjoy being together at home, a nearby hotel, or an Airbnb. If you need some help—we know the problems don’t stop during the holidays. Give us a call at 877-773-3869.

Joan Shepherd, FNP