Understanding What Rapid Detox Really Is
The concept of “rapid detox” seems like a life-saver. Imagine a situation where someone addicted to drugs can receive treatment and experience recovery without taking much (if any) time away from work, school, family or any of life’s obligations and responsibilities. It seems too good to be true, right?
Although some rapid detox programs are touting early success, it most likely is. The reality is that detox is just one step in a process that is usually long and difficult, and the best outcomes do not tend to come when detox is treated like the end of recovery. Here we look at some studies and data examining rapid detox and whether or not it is a viable answer for addicts seeking treatment that doesn’t affect their lives as much as standard rehab programs.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, speak to one of the addiction professionals on hand at Lumiere Healing Centers. Call today to find out more about how we can help you complete the process of addiction recovery in our state-of-the-art treatment facility.
What Is Rapid Detox?
To understand rapid detox, we have to make sure we’re clear on the definition of detox, in its simplest form. Detox, short for “detoxification” simply means cleansing the body of the toxins presented by an addictive substance. Detox occurs when an addict totally ceases consumption of a given substance and undergoes withdrawal.
Medical detox, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use.”
Medical detox occurs under the regular supervision of trained professionals in the medical field.
Rapid detox is a process where patients are typically put under anesthesia for periods over the course of 48-hours, as a way to mitigate the negative side effects of withdrawal. The result is (allegedly) a quicker detox, meaning less time away from family and friends and less time experiencing withdrawal.
But does rapid detox A. really accomplish what it claims to, and B. do so in a safe way for the patient? We look over the latest in addiction science and medicine to explore if rapid detox programs are a safe option for those addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Is Rapid Detox Effective When Compared to Other Detox Methods?
If you do enough research on rapid detox, you’ll see some success stories, such as this Wired Magazine article about an opiate addict who has failed many times to detox successfully, until he tries a rapid detox program and lo and behold, he finally has success. It’s true that some addicts will have successful experiences from a rapid detox program, but as many have noted, these programs haven’t received much peer-reviewed research, so can they really be trusted?
One NIDA study found that while little is known about the success of rapid detox programs in actually getting addicts clean, the process of withdrawal is not made any easier with the use of rapid detox. Addicts were put under with the promise of full detoxification upon awakening, and even though this was technically true, most of the participants in this specific trial still dealt with harsh withdrawal symptoms after being treated.
Additionally, the Irish Medical Journal published a study that showed that following detox without inpatient, outpatient or aftercare treatment, 91% of participants relapsed and 59% of those relapsed within a week, suggesting that the foundational logic behind rapid detox is flawed. A program that attempts to get addicts back into society in a matter of days is destined to fail, no matter what method of detox is used.
Is Rapid Detox Even Safe?
The above NIDA study shows that rapid detox basically involves sending addicts home after they’ve been technically “detoxed” to handle the symptoms of withdrawal by themselves. This is ignoring conventional wisdom that says that trying to detox alone is extremely dangerous and potentially fatal in some cases.
We don’t know much about how these rapid detox programs differ from each other in practice but here’s a concerning bit of anecdotal evidence: according to a USAToday article on rapid detox, a dedicated rapid detox facility in New Jersey experienced 6 treatment-related deaths in 7 years.
Whether this is indicative of the shortcomings in rapid detox programs or not, the consensus is that it’s safer to detox under the supervision of medical professionals than to experience withdrawal on your own.
The Bottom Line
As NIDA specifies, medical detox is only meant to be the first step in the treatment process, so any strategy that treats detox like the end game is inherently flawed. The best-option for addicts is a medical detox stage, followed by inpatient treatment in a dedicated facility.
At Lumiere Healing Centers, we have the resources to give addicts a comfortable, positive place to recover among peers and professionals in the addiction treatment industry. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, give us a call and find out more about how we can help you detox and recover safely.
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