Rapid detox, what is it?
While under sedation, the patient undergoes an accelerated procedure that blocks the brain's opiate receptors from any opiates. Additional medications are administered to accelerate the physical reactions to the rapid withdrawal while the patient is unconscious. After approximately 4 to 6 hours or 12 to 48 depending on the exact drugs and method used, the patient awakens and supposedly is no longer physically dependent on opiates and has no conscious awareness of experiencing any withdrawal.
The idea behind rapid detox is to have the person sleep through withdrawal, bringing the addict from full blown addiction to a point where he can begin the recovery process. However, some people are under the false belief that once the rapid detox is complete, the person is cured of the opiate addiction. If the underlying cause of the addiction is not addressed, relapse is a distinct possibility. The withdrawal process is taxing on the body. This is intensified when the person goes under anesthesia. Withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and appetite irregularities last far longer than the acute symptoms, which are avoided with rapid detox.
A study showing the less optimistic side of rapid detox appeared in the Journal of Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 1998. Cucchia et al reported that "withdrawal symptoms were still present 24 hours after detoxification and 80 percent of the patients relapsed during a 6-month follow-up."
This is similar to another study from Medizinische Klinik in Muchen, West Germany by Hirtl and Zilker who found the rapid detox procedure too dangerous to complete, that "No detoxification was finished within 48 hours," and concluded that "there is no obvious benefit from this method, whereas the risks are high."
Traditional forms of detoxification include methadone, sedative detoxification, or "cold turkey" where an addict just drops drugs and toughs it out. The traditional method of opiate detox, while safer, takes 30 days or longer. It can also require years of attending support groups. Not being able to get through prolonged and painful withdrawals with intense cravings for the drug of choice is often cited as the reason for dismal success rates in traditional addiction treatment. The cost of traditional treatment averages out to be about the same as rapid detox. However, due to the idea of being completely drug free in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional treatment, rapid detox continues to be a popular choice looking for a quick fix recovery¬'.
The high cost of rapid detox puts the procedure beyond the resources of most addicts. At a cost of $15,000.00 per treatment, it's an expensive procedure reserved for people that can afford it. For most of these high income people, addiction to pain pills is the issue causing the need for detox. The belief they can go to detox on Friday and return to work on Monday, cured of the addiction, drives these people to rapid detox. However, according to Ron Jackson in USA Today, a social worker at a Seattle methadone clinic, getting a person drug free is one thing, keeping them drug free is different all together. Follow up treatment must be completed to get to the root of the individuals drug addiction.