I was just re-reading a reference to Victor Frankl. I read his book, Man’s Search for Meaning many years ago.

Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist, was imprisoned by the Nazis in WWII. During his time in the concentration camps, he suffered unimaginable indignities and torture and has become known for his writings from that time.

In spite of horrifying conditions and never knowing if he would die from the extreme circumstances or by being sent to the ovens, Frankl comforted and inspired both prisoners and guards.

In the midst of this experience, Frankl appreciated and emulated a fundamental principle about human nature: Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to chose.

Despite the atrocious treatment he and the other prisoners received, he chose to hold onto his dignity and chose his response to his miserable conditions.

I often think about this as I am working with my patients at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine who are in the grip of physical dependence on medications such as Percocet®, Roxicet®, hydrocodone, Oxycontin®, Dilaudid®, heroin, or fentanyl.


These drugs effectively eliminate that space between stimulus and response, robbing people of their ability to create meaningful lives.

As the drugs take hold of the brain, values shift.

Previously held values such as being a role model and good provider for one’s family, being a dependable employee, being a concerned son or daughter, being a caring friend, responsible citizen, etc., are replaced by the exclusive and pervading value of simply not getting sick from lack of their drug, and acquiring it at all costs.

Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about the uniquely human attributes we have that allow us to create our lives:

  • Self-awareness (the ability to step back and "watch" ourselves…)
  • Imagination (our ability to create in our minds beyond our present reality...our future)
  • Attitude (our ability to respond to things in our environment)
  • Conscience (an inner awareness of right and wrong, principals that govern our behavior, and our alignment with them), and
  • Independent Will (the ability to act, based on our self-awareness).
  • Just as addiction to substances robs people of practicing these uniquely human qualities, recovery restores them.

    Clarifying the opiate receptors is the beginning of recovery. It is what the Coleman Institute has specialized in for over 20 years.

    In a comfortable outpatient setting, with family members and/or trusted friends playing an integral part of the process, we safely and comfortably remove opioids from the body and the brain. We use micro-doses of naltrexone to remove the opioids and provide long-acting naltrexone to keep our patients opioid-free.

    I cannot express to you the collective joy our staff feels when patients return for follow up visits and describe their experiences reclaiming and recreating their lives. Perhaps because of their near-brushes with the depths of despair, a Substance Use Disorder can cause, their pleasure in the contrast of a clean life is sweeter than for those who never suffered from the condition.

    Should you or a loved one realize that an opioid or alcohol addiction is interfering with your uniquely human attributes of imagination, attitude, and independent will—and that you now only react to stimuli, rather than respond, please consider giving us a call. You truly can change.

    Joan R. Shepherd, FNP