Before people can break free from addiction, they first need to get through a detox process. With some drugs, people can simply stop at any time without experiencing serious symptoms. Although patients may experience some discomfort, the withdrawal symptoms associated with some substances are not dangerous.
However, when people are detoxing from certain drugs and prescription medications, they need to do so safely. In many cases, people have to wean off substance use over an extended period of time. This helps to prevent patients from going into shock when drug use suddenly stops. The most common drugs that require detox before patients can move forward include opioids, such as heroin.
The detox process requires getting help at a medical facility for several months. Sometimes, severe symptoms are associated with coming down from some drugs. Common withdrawal symptoms that worry patients considering rehab include excruciating pain and terrifying hallucinations. Therefore, many patients want to consider rapid detoxification, a procedure that can get patients through the rapid drug detoxification process in only a few hours. But the question stands: is rapid detox a good idea?
What Is Rapid Detox?
Rapid detoxification attempts to prevent the pain and suffering associated with ordinary detox methods. The term ‘rapid detoxification’ is normally used to describe methods that exist to quickly remove opioids from a person’s system. Methods of rapid detoxification can be used for other types of addictions and overdoses. But the severity of the opioid epidemic has made rapid detoxification strongly associated with opioid addictions.
Patients who undergo rapid drug detoxification are anesthetized for a period of up to 6 hours. During this time, opioid antagonist drugs, such as naltrexone, are used to remove opioids or heroin from a person’s system. Since patients are asleep during the detox process, they do not have to go through the discomfort of withdrawal.
When patients wake up, the detox process is complete. Most hospitals ask patients to stay at their facility overnight after a rapid detox procedure to monitor their health before sending them home. However, patients can safely stop using a substance once they have left the hospital.
Rapid Detox vs. Traditional Detox
Patients considering rapid detoxification should understand that this procedure is very different than traditional detox.
Rapid detox presents more dangers. When patients go through the traditional detox process, there is a very low risk of experiencing life-threatening complications. On the other hand, rapid detoxification is associated with serious side effects that are life-threatening in some situations. Therefore, patients considering rapid detoxification should be fully informed about the procedure they are considering before making a decision with the help of a medical professional.
Traditional detox may offer a safer process. Ordinary detox is also known as opioid tapering. In traditional detox, medical professionals monitor the patients. They make sure individuals safely wean off drugs and/or alcohol over a period of several weeks. This enables patients to safely come down from using the substance.
As the quantity of a substance that a patient takes reduces, patients will experience withdrawal symptoms. The goal of detox is to balance minimizing discomfort with the need to get through detox in a timely manner.
Withdrawal symptoms may be more noticeable during traditional detox. Patients considering traditional detox should understand that detox is often a painful process.
Traditional detoxification often requires people to live away from home. Patients who enter detox may have to stay at a medical facility because their urges to use the substance will be so strong that it would be practically impossible to stop at home.
As a result, many detox patients have to take time off from work. The reality is that some employers may not be supportive of recovering drug users who want to take time off. Living at a detox facility may cause people to become physically and emotionally distant from their families and friends.
Why Do Some People Choose Rapid Detox Over Traditional Detox?
The problems associated with getting through detox are a major reason why some patients consider rapid detoxification. In the past, rapid drug detoxification was seen as a miracle treatment that helped patients to safely get clean without having to go through the ordeal of detox.
Today, however, the medical community has recognized serious risks associated with rapid detoxification that patients should consider before undergoing a procedure. Although these risks are not serious enough for governments to ban rapid detoxification, the reality is that these symptoms are serious enough to warrant serious consideration.
Understanding the Dangers of Rapid Detox
The first major problem with rapid drug detoxification that every patient should consider is the potential for serious reactions and fatalities. In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in 2012, the outcomes experienced by 75 patients who went through rapid detox were analyzed. The study found that 2 of the patients died, and 5 had reactions to the treatment that required hospitalization.
As a result of the study’s findings, the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services sent an alert to healthcare providers warning of the potential dangers of rapid detoxification. However, the procedure was not banned, and the medical community still acknowledges the reality that there are situations where the procedure can be more beneficial.
More on the Cons of Rapid Detox
Rapid drug detoxification does not help to break the habits and thought patterns that ultimately drive an addiction. During traditional detox, patients are taught on a daily basis how to avoid using addictive substances. In many cases, the social contacts of a patient are brought in to encourage them to support a patient’s recovery. In other cases, patients are taught to nurture a new circle of friends who do not encourage substance abuse.
As a result, many patients who go through rapid detoxification still have to spend significant time at an inpatient drug rehab facility. Some patients also experience relatively minor withdrawal symptoms after their procedure. Although the major pain associated with the recovery process is avoided, patients still have to get used to staying sober.
Many detox programs can enable patients to spend part of their day outside of a care facility once they are a few weeks into their recovery, but these programs can be inadequate for patients with a history of relapses.
Also, rapid drug detoxification is surprisingly expensive. Many insurance providers will not cover rapid detoxification unless it is deemed necessary for the survival of a patient. As a result, most patients have to pay for it out of pocket. In most cases, patients perceive the costs associated with rapid detoxification to be unaffordable.
Finally, the relative ease associated with rapid detox can give drug people a sense that relapses are not a big deal. Patients may reason that they can simply go through rapid detoxification again if experiments with drugs lead to problems again in the future. Misunderstandings about rapid detox may also make drug addictions more common among the general public. In reality, the serious risks associated with rapid detoxification mean that patients need to use it only when absolutely necessary.
Is Rapid Detox Ever Useful?
The most common situation when medical professionals recommend rapid detoxification is when patients have a history of leaving rehab. People have different levels of pain tolerance, and the reality is that people who abuse opioids tend to have lower levels of pain tolerance. Also, some patients are accustomed to using larger doses of a substance, and coming down from a high dose can result in more serious withdrawal symptoms.
As a result, some patients insist on leaving detox before their treatment program is complete. In most states, rehab facilities are required to let voluntary patients go when they insist on leaving. There are situations when patients can be forced to undergo rehab, such as when patients enter into a plea bargain after being caught doing something harmful to society as a result of their addiction. When court orders are in place, patients cannot leave rehab once they enter a facility.
Rapid Detox May Be an Option for Some People
The bottom line is that some patients are not able to get through detox. After several attempts at getting through ordinary detox, care providers may recommend rapid detoxification. Some care facilities may also recommend rapid detoxification to high-risk patients at the point when they are on their way out the door because they cannot tolerate the withdrawal process.
Rapid detox may also be preferable for patients who are physiologically accustomed to extreme doses of a substance. Care providers may determine that the risks of gradually coming down from a high dose of a drug exceed the risks associated with faster detoxification.
Some patients also voluntarily pursue rapid drug detoxification as a matter of personal preference. Reasons for wanting a rapid detox vary, but many people simply want to avoid disruptions to their schedule or want the nightmare of drug addiction over as soon as possible.
But, the truth of the matter is that a rapid detox process is rarely the safest or most effective option. Individuals who wish to end substance use should absolutely seek professional and medical guidance.
Is Rapid Detox Right For You?
Patients considering rapid detoxification should put substantial thought into what recovery program they want to pursue. Of course, many patients who have hit the point where they need to go into detox may not be in a good state of mind. Therefore, some patients may ask someone they trust, such as a parent, spouse, or close friend, to work with their doctor to weigh the risks on whether they should pursue rapid detoxification.
The reality is that you have to look at your own situation to decide whether rapid detoxification is right for you. At the North Jersey Recovery Center, our licensed medical professionals can work compassionately with you to determine which mode of detox and rehab is most likely to lead to a full recovery in your situation. Contact us today to learn more about the rapid detoxification services that we offer.