If you are considering changing your relationship with fentanyl, explore how the Coleman Institute can help you live a life free from addiction with the Coleman Method using naltrexone.

Tom’s Journey to Fentanyl Recovery

I have been so inspired by one of my patients. I’ll call him Tom.

He is 20 months off heroin and fentanyl. We worked with him through relapses and frightening near-death experiences when he overdosed. He lives in the projects and has seen far too much death and violence. His son has significant medical problems and has a heroin/fentanyl/cocaine habit. He and his ex are still close, but their marriage didn’t survive the pressures of their life in addition to Tom’s fentanyl addiction.

Today his urine was positive for cannabis but clean for everything else.

More like this: The Safest & Best Way to Detox Off Fentanyl

Tom Finding the Coleman Institute

Dr. Coleman and I talked about the definition of recovery and what it means to Tom. Dr. Coleman believes it is essential we ask our patients what recovery means to them.

For someone like Tom, who has used street opioids for over twelve years, maybe using cannabis is Tom’s version of recovery. However, from my standpoint, I am reluctant to ‘judge’ someone for using what is now a primarily legal substance in the wake of their abstaining from potentially lethal street drugs.

So, I took the opportunity to ask Tom this very question. What is his definition of fentanyl recovery?

More like this: Is Recovery Possible For Fentanyl Addiction?

Tom’s Definition of Fentanyl Recovery

For now, Tom finds great joy in his work. His favorite healthy way to escape painful thoughts and situations is to immerse himself in his job. He is a chef at a popular local restaurant. His extroverted personality and devotion to excellence make him a star with colleagues and customers. However, he admits he wishes he could work 7 days a week. His employees have told Tom that as much as they cherish him, it is illegal for them not to insist on the occasional day off. His son does not want a relationship with him at this time, and this is one of the most painful things Tom deals with. Also, his neighborhood has seen one of its most violent years since he has lived there.

Tom Asking, “Is Cannabis (Pot) Safe?”

He told me he has been asking himself many challenging questions about if using cannabis (pot) is safe. Tom tends to use cannabis at bedtime and on his days off to help stave off racing thoughts. However, he recognizes that he turns to it when things feel too hard to deal with. He knows he is doing this and has been questioning this pattern because he is becoming more and more desirous of an utterly sober mindset.

I am starting to entertain the idea that it may be a disservice to my patients when I look the other way as they tell me they are using a little or a lot of pot. I am beginning to recognize the importance of bringing up the idea of not using any mind-altering substances. This is part of Dr. Coleman’s definition of being in fentanyl recovery.

Because Dr. Coleman believes that being in recovery includes growth in the emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental realms, he doesn’t see a place for substances that keep one stuck.

However, most of my patients who are using cannabis fiercely defend it.

“It’s the only thing that helps my anxiety.”

“I can’t sleep without taking a couple of hits at bedtime, and I need to sleep to function.”

“Sometimes my depression is so bad; it’s the only thing that helps me get through.”

Without at least questioning the possibility of not using something, a person may continue to believe they need it. And we humans will eagerly ‘gather evidence’ to support any belief that we hold on to with a death grip.

More like this: Is Pot Safe?




Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms

It is a myth that there are no side effects from stopping cannabis, especially for someone who has been taking it for an extended period. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has this to say about withdrawal from marijuana:

The main mental symptoms of cannabis withdrawal include:

  • Being irritable
  • Feeling anxious or worried
  • Feeling depressed
  • Being restless
  • Having trouble sleeping at night and feeling tired during the day
  • Having low appetite or losing weight

You can also have physical cannabis withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Stomach pain
  • Sweatiness
  • Shakiness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache

Avoiding Pain and Seeking Pleasure

Humans and all creatures are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure. It is how we have survived as a species to a large extent.

We desire food to avoid hunger, so we eat and survive.

We desire sex, and we procreate to keep the species going.

We desire water, and our thirst is quenched.

When we feel emotional or psychological pain, using a substance can block it for some time. But invariably, the problem remains and often gets worse.

I don’t usually write about people using cannabis. However, I have witnessed countless patients who have chosen to stop using and have no more withdrawal symptoms within a month.

It’s just that we have bigger fish to fry.

Accelerated Opioid Detox

Our clinic specializes in helping people detox off opioids with our Accelerated Opioid Detox.

Overdosing on opioids kills thousands of people every year; fentanyl has made the margin of error far worse since it is 50-100 times stronger than morphine. It is widely used by people claiming to sell heroin or pain pills on the street.

Stopping opioids is difficult because of the severe physical side effects that happen when a person has developed a tolerance to the drug and needs it to prevent being sick.

That’s why the Accelerated Opioid Detox program at the Coleman Institute is helpful. For over 25 years, we have specialized in getting people off street drugs (such as heroin, fentanyl, and pressed pills), pain medications (like Percocet® and other oxycodone products, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, buprenorphine products, and methadone), and over-the-counter substances like kratom and poppy-seed tea. Our treatment includes using long-acting naltrexone to help with the physical cravings and create an actual blockade on the opioid receptors. As a result, if an opioid is taken, there is no place for it to attach.

More like this: Accelerated Opioid Detox: Explained Using the Coleman Method

Outpatient Opioid Detox

We treat people in a comfortable outpatient setting so that they can stay with their loved ones throughout the process.

For a simple heroin or fentanyl detox, we generally have people come to the clinic daily for 5-6 days.

Typically, an Accelerated Opioid Detox off buprenorphine products involves 8-10 days of treatment.

Getting off opioids is more of a life-or-death situation than stopping cannabis. However, true recovery encompasses growth in all areas of our humanity—spirituality, physicality, emotionally, and psychologically. Perhaps our patients who have found freedom off opioids will meet their next level of liberation as they question and eliminate their cannabis dependence.

More like this: Detoxing off Opioids: 5 Things That Could Stop You


A silver lining of the opioid crisis has been the increased awareness of ways to help people with Substance Use Disorder. Many high-quality programs and counseling services are available for fentanyl addiction, and recovery support groups are meeting in person and via Zoom. In addition, our Case Management team works with every patient to line them up with the most appropriate aftercare.

If you or a loved one would like to explore living a life free from fentanyl addiction or getting off opioids, please call our office at 615-965-4255. In the meantime, stay safe.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP