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What Is Rapid Opiate Detox?


Rapid opiate detox is a type of detoxification program for opioid addicts that is much faster than traditional withdrawal. This program has become more popular over the last few years, and more and more individuals are trying it out. Though it can be an enticing prospect—especially for those who want to go through withdrawal as quickly as possible—it isn’t always the best choice for every patient. As such, you should take some time to consider whether or not this option is actually suitable for your recovery before choosing it.

Our treatment advisors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you choose the best detox program for your current needs. We can also match you with facilities that will allow you to recover as effectively as possible, including programs that will accept your insurance plan. Call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) today to begin discussing your recovery.

Rapid Opiate Detox Defined

rapid opiate detox

Business professionals often choose rapid detox so they can return to work more quickly.

Rapid opiate detox is a type of detox treatment program for those who have become dependent on opioid drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and heroin. The Government of New South Wales’ Health Department states it is the meant to accelerate the process of opioid withdrawal and to render the individual free of their dependence much more quickly than usual.

The program was developed about 25 years ago by a group of clinicians who wanted to solve some of the most frustrating issues associated with opioid detox and withdrawal. The technique involves the use of general anesthetics to sedate the patient for several hours at a time.

  • After sedation occurs, opioid antagonist drugs are administered to precipitate withdrawal. Naltrexone and naloxone are the most popular medications used for this part of the process. Both drugs will send the body into withdrawal immediately, which can be quite a shock for a dependent individual. The theory is the individual will not experience these effects while under sedation.
  • After a few hours, the patient is brought out of sedation. The process may be repeated several times in order to ensure the individual has fully completed their withdrawal from opioids.

The purpose of this process is to treat opioid withdrawal quicker and in a way where patients will not experience as many intense side effects. Because the patient is meant to be asleep for the duration of the program, the effects should be milder or not experienced at all. These are the major selling points of the program.

There are two types of this program: rapid and ultra-rapid opiate detox. The former usually takes 3 to 4 days while the latter can take only 1 or 2. Still, both are much faster than the process of normal opioid withdrawal, which, if allowed to run its course, can take up to a week or two (or longer if the patient is maintained on medications like methadone or buprenorphine).

When a patient does choose rapid opiate detox, it is important that they are well informed about the risks, difficulties, and expectations associated with the program. After all, this is not the best choice for every individual patient.

Who Would Benefit Most from Rapid Opiate Detox?

Certain people may be more impressed by the idea of rapid opiate detox, especially those who want to go through the process of withdrawal extremely quickly. This can include business people who want to get back to work, people who are heavily relied on at home, or doctors, nurses, and other professionals who do not want to spend a long time in detox. However, even these individuals are not guaranteed to benefit from the program. There is also a long list of individuals who are not recommended to seek treatment in a rapid opiate detox facility.

  • People suffering from multiple substance use disorders, dual diagnosis, or any psychological or mental disorders should not seek this treatment option. Coming out of anesthesia can be disorienting and other effects of the process could exacerbate one’s psychological condition.
  • People with medical conditions could put themselves in danger by seeking rapid opiate detox because of the effects of general anesthesia. These conditions can include diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis, AIDS, and pneumonia (or a past of pneumonia).
  • In most cases, this option is best utilized by those with uncomplicated, opioid-only withdrawal syndromes.

The choice to attend rapid opiate detox should depend heavily on the individual patient and whether or not this seems like a viable option for their needs. It is important that you discuss the program with your caregivers in order to determine if you are a good candidate.

Contact now to find rapid opiate detox centers near you!

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Is Rapid Opiate Detox Dangerous?

Like with many other procedures where a patient must go under anesthesia, there is a potential for dangerous side effects. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that there is an increased risk of death and other severe adverse effects when a patient undergoes rapid opiate detox.

  • There is an increased risk of cardiac arrest during this procedure as well as an increased risk of pulmonary edema.
  • There is also an increased risk of depressive or anxious symptoms during recovery.
  • Some individuals experience additional symptoms after withdrawal has ended, which can range from nausea to weakness to diarrhea.

As a result of these effects, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene launched a full investigation in 2012 into whether or not this program is not only effective but safe.

Is Rapid Opiate Detox Effective?

Some people have found this program to be very effective for opioid detox. According to the Center for Antisocial Drug Dependence, it has been found to produce high recovery rates, often higher than those of regular detox programs. These have been compared at 50 percent success and 20 to 30 percent success respectively. However, the study states these recovery rates may be unrealistically high and points out that there are few studies that compare the recovery rates of the two types of programs.

The study determined that, because many individuals are not candidates for anesthesia and because a large number of patients cannot be treated with this option, it is not fair to compare the success rates of the two programs. More individuals with additional complications are usually involved in regular opioid detox programs, which does not allow for an even comparison between the two treatments.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse also released a study in 2006 that stated detox was no easier for those going through ultra-rapid or rapid opiate detox.

  • Many people who tried to go through rapid opiate detox failed to report preexisting medical conditions before beginning the program. This was often because they did not want to miss out on their chance to be a part of the new treatment. However, those who did not reveal conditions, such as psychiatric illnesses or diabetes, experienced severe complications as a result of the procedure.
  • Another study cited by the NIDA found that there was no medical advantage to rapid opiate detox for many patients in that it did not provide individuals with a pain-free detox experience. Many people woke from sedation and complained of symptoms concurrent with—or in some cases worse than—buprenorphine and methadone treatment.
  • In certain cases, individuals who finished rapid opiate detox had low retention rates when it came to attending treatment in an outpatient center afterward. This is a serious issue, as recovery does require rehab in addition to detox (NIDA). Perhaps many people felt that the rapidity of this program should allow them to avoid the need for attending any additional treatment programs afterward, which is likely to lead to many other complications.

All in all, rapid opiate detox and ultra-rapid opiate detox have both caused serious problems for many people. While some individuals have been able to effectively recover from their opioid dependence with the help of one of these programs, most are not even viable candidates.

Is Rapid Opiate Detox Right for Me?

In many cases, rapid opiate detox is not the right choice for a safe detox program. If you were to choose this option, you would need to be in excellent health with no psychological or physical syndromes to complicate the use of anesthesia. What’s more, even if you are in terrific health, there is always a possibility that the unnecessary use of anesthesia could bring about complications.

This program does offer a potentially safe and effective option for opioid detox, according to a study published in the medical journal L’Encéphale. However, the study also states that further research is necessary to determine if the program will be considered an effective option for many individuals and if it is deemed worth the potential complications associated with it.

Want to Learn More About Rapid Opiate Detox?

We would be happy to answer your questions about this program as well as to help you find safe, effective detox centers for your recovery from opioid dependence. Remember, detox is often the first step of building a better life, a life free from substance abuse and addiction, so call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) today to learn more.


  1. Government of New South Wales. (2018). Rapid Opioid Detoxification – Guidelines.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Deaths and Severe Adverse Events Associated with Anesthesia-Assisted Rapid Opioid Detoxification — New York City, 2012.
  3. Center for Antisocial Drug Dependence. (n.d.). Ultra-Rapid Opioid Detoxification.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2006). Study Finds Withdrawal No Easier With Ultrarapid Opiate Detox.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: What Science Says- 8: Medical Detoxification.
  6. L’Encéphale. (2001). [Ultra-rapid detoxification of opiate dependent patients: review of the literature, critiques and proposition for an experimental protocol].
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