Thursday, September 29, 2011


Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

The weather for the past week or so in Richmond has been awful.  Continual rain and dark clouds have made it very difficult to get motivated.  Ever been there?  Yeah, me too!

Today is different, however, because the ‘eye in the sky’ is shining brightly.  It is amazing what a little bit of sunshine can do for your mood.  Do you ever feel moody?  Yeah, me too!

In recovery, one of the issues people often struggle with is their day-to-day mood swings.  One day you’re on cloud 9 and the next day you drop down to cloud -9 and there’s no good reason to explain your huge mood swing.  This is very common but very difficult to deal with in the beginning of your recovery when everything is so raw, real, and even painful. 

What we all look for in life are buffers.  Buffers help us deal with the pain the world sends us.  Common buffers include, but are not limited to, food, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, adrenaline, sports, and many others.  A buffer is anything that you use to keep you from feeling the fullness of an emotion that you find uncomfortable.  This is why drugs and alcohol seems to be the instant fix.  And in the beginning, they do just that. 

However, over time, addiction will teach us that the buffer it advertises fails to work in the long-term.  This leaves us in a quandary.  How do we deal with intense feelings with nothing to block the power of those feelings?  The answer is simple:  feel it. 

I know that is not the answer you wanted to hear but it is true.  The more we allow ourselves to feel what we actually are feeling the easier those feelings will become to manage.  It takes practice and dedication to maintain our emotional health.  The payoff is totally worth it in the end!

Think of your emotions as your inner ‘oil light’.  Like the oil light in a car that lets the driver know if the engine is ok or is about to lock up due to cruddy or insufficient oil in the engine, so too, emotions are nature’s way of teaching us that something is wrong in our present life.  If we choose to accept emotions as a help and not a hindrance, then they begin to take on a new hope and a new meaning. 

Why don’t you give it a try?  Pay attention to your emotions the next few days and see if you notice how you tend to buffer them.  If you find you don’t like what you see, experiment with letting go of that buffer or buffers and see how the experience differs.   As for me today, I’m feeling good because the sun is my buffer.  Here’s hoping tomorrow, if it’s cloudy, I’ll remember my own words! 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Never Too Late

A few weeks ago we did an Accelerated Alcohol Detox with a new client.

She is almost 80 years old and one of the most elegant women I have ever met.

She carried herself with great dignity, listened with intelligence and radiated warmth. She had a great laugh.

Unfortunately, she was going through a bottle of scotch every few days.

Her detox went smoothly. When a person comes for an alcohol detox with us, he or she is in a comfortable room in a cozy recliner. Although connected to monitoring equipment so we can keep a check on blood pressure and other vital functions, the client is free to move about, with their support person. We provide a nice lunch from any of a number of near-by eateries. Our patient can doze, read a book, or watch a movie. He/she will have ample time for conversation with our Aftercare Coordinator, Chris Newcomb, and of course, the medical staff is in and out throughout the day.

Most people will come in the morning and stay til about 4:30 in the afternoon.

Yesterday this lovely lady came in for a follow up. She was beaming. She has been going to AA meetings with a dear old friend and she said she has more energy than she’s had in some years. She has resumed daily gardening and even packed up 8 boxes for Goodwill with stuff she’d wanted to be rid of for 2 years, she told me. Not only is this a gift to herself, her children are so grateful to have more meaningful interaction with their mother. This step clearly increases the odds that their mother will be able to continue to live independently—something that is extremely important to her.

It’s never too late to start.

Joan Shepherd - FNP

Tuesday, September 20, 2011



Joan R. Shepherd, FNP

We ask people after completing an Accelerated Opiate Detox, if they’d be willing to be contacted by people who are ‘on the fence’ about our method.  It’s one thing to ask questions of our staff about the detox process.  However, it is an entirely different one to hear from a patient who has gone through the process and are on the other side of it.

I just spoke to the mom of one of our recent patients.  When her son’s primary care doctor inquired how he was doing since the detox he replied, “I can’t wipe the smile off my face.”

She said he went home that afternoon, called his dealer and told him he was changing his number.  Then he suggested his dealer look into detoxing at The Coleman Institute!

He’s coming next week for his 2nd implant.  He lost his job as a result of his opiate use, but his baby is due next month and he’ll be clean.

If you are considering an Accelerated Opiate Detox, but want to hear about it from the patients’ perspective, let us know.  As the saying goes, ‘Success Leaves Clues’.  There are lots of ‘clues’ in the lives of people who are living in recovery!