Choosing nursing or medicine as a profession usually means that sometime in your career, you’ll be working weekends and holidays. So when my children were young, I had to take my turns doing shifts on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, or the 4th of July 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 was actually pretty gratifying.

Over 30 years into my medical profession, I’m still covering holidays – for the past eleven years as a Nurse Practitioner at the Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine.

We have patients scheduled for opioid or alcohol detoxes this 4th of July holiday. Clearly, they would rather be elsewhere – at the beach, on a boat, eating burgers or barbeque – and not having this illness of addiction take over their life, let alone their holiday time. For these people, coming in over the holiday is the best way to make it work into their schedules, missing a minimum of time from work. For many, the opioid addiction has robbed them of their freedom of choice, which I just heard someone describe as the opposite of addiction. These are people experiencing the very flip side of freedom; shackled by opioid dependence, they are losing their dreams, their families, their professions—their very lives.

I believe it is perhaps more relevant to consider a detox off substances such as fentanyl, Oxycontin®, Percocet®, Roxicet, Roxicodone®, Dilaudid®, hydromorphone, hydrocodone, or heroin during this holiday than any others. After all, as the Declaration of Independence states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."

With compassion and competence that comes from years of experience, our staff is here to help you. Because we have an outpatient detox program, you and your support person can stay together in a nearby hotel or Airbnb, as many out of state patients choose. Although we provide medications to keep you comfortable and a bit drowsy, you may muster up a little energy to check out some of the cool things happening in Richmond over the holiday weekend.

Please call us at 877-773-3869 if you’d like to learn more about our opioid or alcohol detox programs which include the use of long-acting naltrexone to eliminate cravings. We may be the right fit for each other.

Joan R. Shepherd, FNP