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What is Rapid Drug Detoxification Part 2

In What is Rapid Drug Detoxification Part 1 we detailed the basics related to drug detox and Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. Understanding the detox process is essential to understand how rapid drug detox can help, because in theory this process could save a person in the early stages of recovery days and possibly weeks of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, rapid drug detox also has a number of drawbacks that should be examined prior to determining if this drug detox treatment strategy is right for you. And because some of these concerns are serious and potentially life-threatening, developing an understanding of rapid drug detox is critical for everyone involved in the recovery of an addict or alcoholic.

Rapid drug detoxification works by medically sedating a patient in an effort to precipitate and quicken the withdrawal process. This is best explained in an article for the National Institute on Drug Abuse by Lori Whitten;

“The ultrarapid detox technique, developed about 15 years ago by clinicians who hoped to mitigate the discomfort of withdrawal and speed the initiation of relapse prevention therapy, relies on a general anesthetic to sedate the patient for several hours while an opiate blocker precipitates withdrawal. The method is not covered by insurance, which makes it difficult to determine how many patients have received anesthesia-assisted detox.” (1)

The study also cited the potential for serious complications as a result of the treatment. Anecdotal and other reports have mirrored these concerns.

However, several years prior to the study referenced by Whitten there was a similar study in Australia that also reviewed rapid drug detox among heroin patients. While the earlier study had results that conflicted overall with the study reported by NIDA, there were still important caveats, as noted in the Drug Detoxification/Rapid Detoxification entry in Wikipedia;

“According to a 2001 analysis of 13 Australian drug treatment trials, conducted by Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, rapid opioid detoxification was determined to be the most effective method of getting people off drugs in the short term, however long-term rates of continued treatment were less successful.” (2)

But despite the fact that drug detox can sometimes pose a barrier to treatment, many experienced addicts – both active users and recovered – have voiced concern that detox and withdrawal are part of the process of regaining normalcy over the physical, mental and emotional aspects of a person’s life. Bypassing these processes is seen as cheating by some and overall is indicative of the instant-gratification nature of addicts and alcoholics.

Finally – as noted by the Australian study – even when temporarily effective for relieving symptoms of withdrawal the rapid detox process was overall unsuccessful as the long-term treatment rates suffered. Ultimately, this is the most important metric related to addiction and alcoholism: the long term sobriety of the person in question.

Therefore, it would seem that rapid drug detox is something that should be considered carefully – if at all. The short-term benefits might seem appealing to someone who is intimidated by detox, but the fact of the matter is that thousands of people have successfully completed detox without using rapid detox and exposing themselves to the possible dangers and long-term success barriers.

To find out more about a medical detox program that can work for you or your loved one, call the number at the top of your screen now for an immediate consultation with an addiction and detox expert. We’re available 24 hours per day to provide free, confidential guidance related to detox and drug addiction treatment. Call us now.

(1) Whitten, Lori Study Finds Withdrawal No Easier With Ultrarapid Opiate Detox October 2006
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Accessed 03/15/2012

(2) Wikipedia Drug Detoxification
Accessed 03/15/2012

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