Rapid detox is a form of detoxification designed to accelerate the withdrawal process to reduce the total time spent in detox, so that patients can move into recovery more quickly. For many, detox is the first and one of the most important steps on the journey to recovery, and one that can be challenging, intimidating, and dangerous. This leads some to seek out faster options to detox, so that they can get the withdrawal period over with and get back to their lives or go into treatment as quickly as possible. As a result, rapid and ultra-rapid detox programs sometimes offer to help users through physical detox in as little as a few days or hours, even when the process would normally take several weeks.
Detox is the first step on the way to recovery and for many people, it can be difficult and dangerous, even with medical attention. Rapid detox uses medication to speed up the process, which can even further affect the user’s safety and well-being. While the idea of detoxing quickly and moving on is likely tempting, it’s crucial that you understand the implications as well as the safety of rapid detox.
What is Rapid Detox?
Rapid detox or ROD (Rapid Opioid Detoxification) was introduced during the 1980s in a bid to reduce the length of hospital stays during detox. Traditional opiate detox can take weeks to complete and typically requires the patient to suffer through most withdrawal symptoms unless switching to buprenorphine. In Rapid Detox, users are given a drug agonist to trigger a withdrawal phase, typically in combination with a light sedative. In the case of an opiate addiction (such as painkillers or heroin) rapid detox would include oral administration of naltrexone in combination with a light sedative and clonidine or a similar medication to ease withdrawal symptoms. This process forces the drug out of the user’s system more quickly so that weeks of withdrawal symptoms occur over the space of a few days.
Ultra-Rapid Detox – Ultra-Rapid Detox is a form of rapid detox also known as Anesthesia-assisted rapid detox (AAROD). Here, users are given general anesthesia to reduce the risk of seizures and major complications and then forced through the withdrawal process in as little as a few hours. Without anesthesia, this process could cause life-threatening seizures and withdrawal symptoms with extreme discomfort, but with anesthesia, the patient is relatively oblivious to the process.
Both Rapid and Ultra-Rapid Detox follow the same premise of forcing withdrawal using a drug or substance agonist to speed up a weeks’ long process into as little as a few days. This can only be accomplished in a medical setting with strong medical support.
Is Rapid Detox Safe?
While you are likely aware of the risks of detox, which often include anxiety and depression, seizures, heart attack, stroke, and other complications, rapid detox typically forces the symptoms causing those risks into a much shorter time-period. While users are either sedated or under general anesthesia, withdrawal symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, hypertension, seizures, and tachycardia are still present. Any medical center offering rapid detox must take every precaution to reduce the risks and prevent potentially fatal or life-altering side-effects from happening during rapid detox.
This leads many medical experts to believe that the risks are too high. For example, even general anesthesia is considered a serious procedure, and is typically only performed when medically necessary. Even when you cannot feel what is happening, rapid detox still takes a significant toll on the body and can strain the heart and organs. The rapid nature of this form of detox also puts additional stress on the organs, which can be detrimental for those already suffering from medical complications such as heart disease, liver failure (very common in drug abusers), or diabetes.
In one study, 75 patients underwent anesthesia-assisted rapid detoxification at a clinic, two died as a result and 5 suffered from severe long-term complications. In another study, patients were more likely to experience serious pulmonary, psychiatric, and diabetic complications resulting in hospitalization in rapid detox than in any other form of detox.
Benefits of Rapid Detox
Rapid detox is sometimes marketed as an easy and simple way to get clean, especially from opioids. However, many argue that without the painful and uncomfortable detox process, many users will have less motivation to stay clean or sober, because they haven’t had to build the motivation to go through withdrawal.
The primary benefit of rapid detox is quite simply that it’s fast. Users can get withdrawal over with in as little as one day, after which they can go back to work to receive outpatient rehabilitation or into an inpatient rehab center.
Is Rapid Detox Worth the Risk?
While there are many risks to rapid detox and many medical professionals recommend against it, some rehab centers still offer it. This is simply because many people still demand rapid detox. However, detox is just the first step on the road to recovery. Forcing yourself to detox at an accelerated rate can result in physical and emotional trauma which can be damaging in the long-term.
In addition, going through detox at a normal pace, whether social or medically supported, will give you the time to come to terms with your addiction, will help you build the tools to resist cravings in a safe and supported environment, and will put you on the right path to unlearning the behavior and problems behind substance abuse in the first place. Overcoming addiction is a lifelong process, and speeding up the first part of it may help you in the short term, but not in the long-term
Going to a drug detox program where you receive medical and psychological support, as well as emotional support from peers and staff, will help you begin to unlearn the behaviors supporting addiction, will help you build motivation to stay clean and sober, and will give you the time and space to implement what you are learning so that you can step into recovery with everything you need to stay there.
Rapid detox is a controversial treatment method and it is one that is not recommended unless you have no other options or it is medically significant for you to quit drug use as quickly as possible. Going into a traditional detox program will help you to withdraw more safely, allowing symptoms to take their natural course and progression, with medication to improve your comfort and reduce the risk of seizure or other issues, while giving you the tools to begin to build your way into recovery.
To learn more about safe and comfortable drug detox procedures you may contact Lighthouse Treatment Center today for more information. We are here to help and happy to provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced treatment advisors.