Once a person has successfully completed an accelerated (or rapid*) opioid detox at one of our outpatient Coleman Institute offices, a frequently asked question is: how can I boost my energy after I stop using opioids?

There is not a magic bullet answer to this question, and I’d be highly suspicious of any snake-oil someone who tells you otherwise or tries to sell you on that claim. Based on years of clinical experience in addiction medicine and conversations with hundreds of patients, these are my top recommendations.

#1 Commit to a Morning Routine

Carve out early morning time to set yourself up for the rest of your day. This in itself may require enormous commitment, setting the clock an hour early, or preparing things the night before to facilitate having the extra time. Do it. It is so worth it.

Benjamin Hardy, author, speaker, and entrepreneur frequently writes about the importance of using time in the morning for deep work.

Just as intensive interval training followed by rest and recovery is shown to be the most effective way to physically work out, Hardy makes compelling arguments for applying this same approach to whatever is our priority in life.

For people in recovery, especially in early recovery, their most important work is staying motivated, staying sober, and learning everything they can about substance use disorder.

Read a few paragraphs from an inspirational recovery book, meditate on how this informs your own recovery, then journal your thoughts, your struggles, your Aha! moments. What sucks, what is fabulous, what’s funny… This journal will be an invaluable tool as time goes on and you can see your progress.

For some people, attending an early morning recovery meeting is the key to start their day off. Time spent in journaling, meditation, or prayer before attending a meeting can prime your pump to get even more out of a meeting, to hear exactly what you need to hear that day.


#2 “Move your Ass”

These were my patient, Jane’s words. After a successful detox off Suboxone®, she struggled with real physical fatigue.

“It was all I could do to drag myself off the couch those first few weeks. Thank God my dog Hugo needed to be walked.”

Indeed, I have yet to work with any patient who told me, “Man, I felt so much worse after I took a walk.”

Start slowly, but start. Be prepared for your mind to tell you that exercise is impossible. It’s not. Take the first step, and work back into (or create your new) exercise regime.

I frequently suggest yoga to people who are in recovery. The mind-body connection, the breathing work, the sense of carving out me-time on your little mat-island is so therapeutic. Many yoga studios have teachers trained in trauma-informed yoga. This creates an extra sense of security for people feeling particularly vulnerable in early recovery who may have experienced traumas leading to their substance use.

#3 Feed Your Microbiome Well

Our gut houses our microbiota, which is composed of trillions of different bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic living things. Not only do these microbes impact our immune system, digestive, and heart health, It turns out certain species of bacteria are responsible for making the neurotransmitters that directly impact our moods.

Evidence continues to build that this powerful ‘factory’ in our bodies may be the key to helping to modulate and regulate depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. You can find plenty of links to research, but in summary, to keep your gut as healthy as possible, these are some basics from the Healthline newsletter:

  • Eat a diverse range of foods: This can lead to a diverse microbiome, which is an indicator of good gut health. In particular, legumes, beans and fruit contain lots of fiber and can promote the growth of healthy Bifidobacteria.
  • Eat fermented foods: Fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir all contain healthy bacteria, mainly Lactobacilli, and can reduce the amount of disease-causing species in the gut.
  • Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners: Some evidence has shown that artificial sweeteners like aspartame increase blood sugar by stimulating the growth of unhealthy bacteria like Enterobacteriaceae in the gut microbiome.
  • Eat prebiotic foods: Prebiotics are a type of fiber that stimulates the growth of healthy bacteria. Prebiotic-rich foods include artichokes, bananas, asparagus, oats and apples.
  • Eat whole grains: Whole grains contain lots of fiber and beneficial carbs like beta-glucan, which are digested by gut bacteria to benefit weight, cancer risk, diabetes and other disorders.
  • Try a plant-based diet: Vegetarian diets may help reduce levels of disease-causing bacteria such as E. coli, as well as inflammation and cholesterol.
  • Eat foods rich in polyphenols: Polyphenols are plant compounds found in green tea, dark chocolate, olive oil and whole grains.
  • Take a probiotic supplement: Probiotics are live bacteria that can help “re-seed" the gut with healthy microbes.
  • ake antibiotics only when necessary: Antibiotics kill many bad and good bacteria in the gut microbiome.


#4 Connect!!

With over 5 million views, the TED Talk by Johann Hari, Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong has people embracing the concept that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is human connection.

This idea started gaining credence in the 1970s when large numbers of American soldiers ready to return home from Vietnam were addicted to heroin, and the government wanted to do something about it.

Researcher Paul Alexander noticed that rats isolated in wire cages consistently chose morphine-laced water when given a choice between that and plain water. But when the rats were housed in what came to be known as Rat Park—full of all the amenities and playmates any self-respecting rat could want—they almost always chose the plain water. Similarly, rats who became addicted while in the wire cages preferentially chose the plain water when placed in this ideal environment.

Often patients, filled with shame and the desire to keep their substance use secret, try to deal with things on their own. After completing an opioid detox using the Coleman Method, we work to connect patients with others in the form of inpatient therapy, intensive outpatient therapy, one on one counseling, recovery meetings—whatever treatment is most appropriate for each individual. Many people are finding great support from on-line recovery venues.

Even the most stoic believers of doing-it-myself describe the relief, compassion, humor, and comfort they find when connecting with others dealing with similar issues.

#5 Get a Calendar

Stephen Covery wrote that “Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.”

The truth about restoring energy after being on opiates is that it takes time. Your brain needs time to heal and time to replenish its depleted dopamine stores. In my work with patients recovering from Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), feeling completely restored can take several months or more.

Time is the most precious commodity we have. Organizing your life around the actions that prioritize your choice to stay sober empowers you to say no to anything that keeps you from this goal, and able to say yes to everything that affirms it.

Put morning time, exercise, healthy eating, and connecting with those who share your intention for recovery on your calendar in ink!

Please call us at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine for any questions about our rapid opioid, alcohol, or benzo detoxes. Thousands of people have successfully detoxed with us and gone on to a lifetime of recovery.


*The Coleman Method for opiate withdrawal management gets people off short-acting opioids such as Percocet, Roxicet, other oxycodone products; Vicodin®, Vicoprofen®, and other hydrocodone products; hydromorphone or Dilaudid®, morphine, fentanyl, heroin, kratom, etc. in a 3-5 day outpatient process. We also detox people from long-acting opioids such as methadone and buprenorphine products in an 8-day process, when that is appropriate for their situation. Although we speed up the withdrawal process and help make it more comfortable for patients, we do NOT perform anesthesia detox (or Ultra-Rapid Detox) due to concerns about its safety.