Do Rapid Detox Programs for Addiction Really Work?

rapid detox

Like any other mess one can make in life, addiction is much easier done than it is undone. This is a cruel fact of life that persists in most other circumstances, illustrated perhaps most appropriate in the case of alcohol and drug dependency. People are born as addicts, but rather develop addiction through a combination of biological and environmental susceptibility as well as their development and personal choices.

In practice, this makes addiction seem almost normal for individuals who have grown up with addiction in the family or who lived in a neighborhood where alcohol and drug use was widespread. However, there are a number of individuals who aren’t especially susceptible to addiction and who weren’t particularly curious about substance abuse, but who became addicted to a chemical substance through no particular fault of their own. Individuals who become addicted to painkillers prescribed for some sort of chronic pain will inevitably develop a tolerance to the medication that affords them relief, which will likely result in needing higher doses over time to achieve the desired therapeutic effects. Much like your addict dependent on street drugs, these individuals’ well-being and even their health depends on daily doses of prescription opioids, but like most other addicts these individuals often get to a point where they no longer want to be tethered to prescription medication in order to ensure their quality of life.

If the above examples didn’t make it clear, addiction can occur in a variety of circumstances, which means that the treatment needs of addicts are very different and diverse from one person to the next. What’s more, despite being easily developed, the disease of addiction is incredibly difficult to overcome, which has resulted in ongoing research and development by recovery experts who are always seeking a more effective way to help individuals overcome dependency. While many new treatments, therapies, and programs become added to the recovery repertoire for the benefit of individuals whose needs are addressed by each new offering, there are some new methods that challenge many of the widely held beliefs or conceptions regarding alcohol and drug addiction, becoming very controversial and points of contention. Rapid detox is one such controversial treatment.

What is Detoxification?

The traditional method of recovery acknowledges the regrettable reality that individuals who want to overcome chemical dependency will inevitably pass through a period of withdrawal after ceasing consumption or administration of their drug of choice. Though the symptoms of withdrawal can vary to a degree depending on the substance, it oftentimes includes things like nausea, cold sweats, joint and muscle aches, general feelings of discomfort and unwellness, anxiety, insomnia, and so on. For substances like heroin and alcohol, withdrawal can be particularly intense and last longer than with other drugs, which often deters individuals from recovery as they fear the detoxification process and the pain of withdrawal they’ll inevitably be forced to endure. As such, many have attempted to develop alternatives to the traditional model of detoxification, making the process less painful and less scary or intimidating to individuals in need of rehabilitation.

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Rapid Detox: The Quick Cleanse

One of the earliest strategies for alleviating withdrawal during detox involved the use of methadone, which continues to be used today in some detox programs as well as in replacement therapy as specialized methadone clinics nationwide. Since then, other drugs have been developed that offer similar utility as an aid during detoxification, including buprenorphine (Suboxone). Additionally, since detox involves clearing the drug and other toxins from the body, other medicinal treatments have been developed that bind to the brain’s opiate receptors, effectively rendering opioids powerless in the body and duly expelling them; these include such medications as naloxone and naltrexone. In the 1990s, physicians began treating addicts with such medications in order to induce withdrawal and detox while treating some of the symptoms with short-acting medications in order to make detox more bearable.

With these medications available individually, it would naturally follow that physicians and addiction experts would attempt to develop more effective ways of using these treatments to make the detox process short and less painful. To that end, a number of variations have been developed, alternately referred to as “rapid detox (RAD)” or “ultra-rapid opiate detox”, that essentially involve detoxing an addict while he or she is under anesthesia. After the individual is put under, he or she is treated with a medication such as naltrexone, immediately inducing intense withdrawal in order to quick detox the patient; however, as the patient remains under anesthesia during the process he or she is spared the pain and discomfort of withdrawal. When the individual wakes after one or two days of the rapid detox process, he or she no longer has the drug in his or her system, has a medication that is blocking opiates from binding to receptors in the brain, and no longer has cravings for drugs.

Is Rapid Detox Effective?

There are a number of rapid detox programs available at facilities across the country with the procedure offered at the Waismann Institute, located south of Los Angeles, California. Although the program is expensive—costing upward of $10,000 or sometimes more to undergo the procedure—it does, in fact, do what it’s intended to do. Rapid detox is a quick way for individuals to distil the detox process into only a couple days, during which they experience the intense withdrawal only while they are under anesthesia. When they wake, they are not experiencing withdrawals or drug cravings, which virtually catapults them into a later stage of recovery in a short amount of time.

The problem with rapid detox is not that it’s ineffective as a means of detoxing without experiencing painful and uncomfortable withdrawals, but rather that it doesn’t address the underlying causes or source of alcohol and drug addiction. When an individual finishes rapid detox they are technically no longer chemically dependent, but the psychological or environmental problems that led to their addiction still exist. In order for rapid detox to lead to long-term recovery, individuals will still have to participate in an addiction treatment program consisting of treatments based on the tenets of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Without counseling, relapse prevention education, and other treatments, it’s likely that individuals who participate in rapid detox will relapse sooner rather than later, only to need another rapid detox treatment in the future.

Explore Your Recovery Options Today

If you or someone you love is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and would like to learn more about recovery, call Recovery Hub 888-220-4352 today. We have a team of caring, knowledgeable recovery specialists available to help those in need make their way back to a state of health, sobriety, and fulfillment through recovery.

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