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Rapid Drug Detox for Opioid Addiction?


When considering treatment for your opioid addiction, you have very likely run across information relating to detox: the process by which you transition from having a body full of drugs to having one that is drug-free. Unfortunately, opioid detox is one of the most difficult as the withdrawal symptoms are pretty severe. Fear of these symptoms may make you look to alternative form of detox, like rapid drug detox.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1.2 million of the emergency room visits in 2009 involved the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals. Of these, 50 percent were for the non-medical use of opiate/opioid analgesics. That is a tremendous amount of people facing the health consequences of their behavior.

To avoid emergency hospital visits for drug abuse, adverse reactions to drugs, or other drug-related consequences, the best course of action is to undergo structured, formal drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Your first step in any program will be to detox.

One form of detox that is getting a lot of press is rapid detox, a relatively new practice. For people scared of undergoing the full detox process, this seems like a positive course of action. But, the reality is that traditional assisted detox is a safer choice.

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What Is Rapid Drug Detox?

Used since the 1980s, rapid detox uses an opioid antagonist, like naloxone or naltrexone, to “cleanse” the opioid receptors in the brain. This causes the effect of opioids to be lessened and immediate withdrawal symptoms set in, which is why it is performed under general anesthesia. The process can be quite risky and can last several hours; recovery may take anywhere from 6 hours to 2 days.

Proponents of this method advertise that patients awaken with their body cleared of drugs and the absence of withdrawal and cravings. These claims are untrue.


Because the procedure simply allows a patient to weather immediate withdrawal, it fails to provide patients with a response to the inevitable psychological cravings. There will also be lingering withdrawal symptoms, as they can persist for up to a week.

Some treatment centers provide medication to patients after the procedure and encourage them to continue taking them at home in order to diminish withdrawal and cravings.

Health Risks

Rapid Drug Detox

Patients are monitored throughout the rapid drug detox process.

Even though it has been over two decades since the advent of rapid detox, the procedure remains largely unpopular because it presents more than one sizable risk.

There have been reported cases of death associated with the process. Keep in mind that it is a major medical procedure and it carries with it a series of dangers not present in more traditional detox methods. Anesthesia always creates risks and the actual stress placed on a body weakened by addiction can’t be properly measured.

In August/September of 2012, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) was informed of three patients who underwent serious adverse events after anesthesia-assisted rapid opiate detoxification (AAROD) at a local outpatient clinic.

After a resulting study, the New York State Department of Health, the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and DOHMH cooperatively delivered a Health Alert notifying New York health-care providers of rapid detox-associated consequences and advising that the use of rapid detox be avoided in support of evidence-based options.

Statistically, patients of rapid detox are more likely to overdose.

Cost Issues

Rapid detox is a pricey procedure. You may be charged up to 15 thousand dollars to undergo the process and that does not include any of the necessary follow-up care. In addition, most major insurance carriers do not cover rapid detox because it is not viewed as a viable treatment method.

Traditional Treatment

Opioid detox can prove difficult, but it is completely doable, especially with the intervention of a traditional detox methodology.

You may choose to engage in medical detox and take medications like buprenorphine or methadone to help manage craving and withdrawal. Hospital staff will help you, as well.

You may do better with a social method where a support staff aids you through the process.

Whatever method you choose, you need the help of qualified experts and we can help you find them. Simply call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) to get started.

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