The risks of rapid opiate detox
Is rapid opiate detox a good idea?
A conventional detox off of opiate (heroin, vicodin etc.) type drugs is a grueling and painful experience, and when addicts hear of the promises made by rapid opiate detox clinics, it's natural to feel interested.
Rapid opiate detox promises a complete end to the pains of detox within a day, and since patients endure the procedure under anesthetic, advocates promise a completely pain free experience, and a complete cure over a weekend. When you consider the many days of agony as normally endured in a detox, if rapid opiate detox clinics can deliver what they promise, what's the downside?
How does rapid opiate detox work?
Opiate addicts are placed under anesthesia and they are injected with a cocktail of drugs aimed to intensify and accelerate the process of detox. Were patients conscious for this accelerated detox, the pains would be unbearable, but as they remain sedated they awake at the end of the sedated detox with no memory of any pain, and with the physical addiction to opiates completely finished.
Sounds good…what's the catch?
Too many opiate addicts continue with abuse and addiction for years out of a very real fear of the pains of detox, and therapeutic advances that promise a more humane detox experience have great potential to increase treatment compliance, and by extension, reduce our societal problems with drugs and alcohol.
There is no denying that the treatment offers promise, but as it's currently administered, there are some serious concerns with the health risks, the costs and the efficacy of the rapid detox procedure.
Detox is tough on the body, and a rapid detox is tougher. Although you do not consciously feel the pains of this quickened detox, your body must endure an intensified and accelerated period of detox, and this can be very taxing on the body…and doubly so as many addicts do not enter into detox in the best of health.
There have been a number of deaths related to the procedure, where patients have died within days of a rapid detox, and one prominent clinic was closed down over concerns over health and safety.
Advocates argue that although there are risks, the risks of a lifetime of abuse and addiction are greater, and for society as a whole rapid opiate detox betters health. This may or may not be true, but it is not likely very encouraging on an individual basis and when deciding on personal options.
Rapid detox works, and once finished with the sedated withdrawal the worst of the pains are over, and no one questions the legitimacy of the procedure for its efficacy over withdrawal.
But when rapid opiate detox advocates start talking of a one day cure, addictions professionals start to object. Detox is only the first step of many on the road to recovery, and detox alone does nothing to better the problems that led to abuse, and if unresolved remain likely to again lead back to use. Detox alone also does not teach needed strategies for dealing with the cravings and temptations that will inevitably emerge throughout the initial months and even years of abstinence.
Rapid opiate detox clinics do prescribe naltrexone for pharmacological cravings management, but the reality and pervasiveness of addiction discludes such a minimal type of therapeutic intervention as sufficient.
Rapid opiate detox will work, and if you define success as a complete physical detox, they are very good at what they do; but since most addicts define success as long term sobriety, getting through detox alone is not likely enough for an achievement of the ultimate and necessary goal.
Addiction recovery is big business, and there is no denying that rapid opiate detox clinics are striving for a piece of that lucrative pie; and while there is nothing wrong with seeking a fair profit, when the only people that seem to be advocating the procedure seem set to profit directly, it should cause some concerns.
The price tag of a one day rapid opiate detox ranges from $15 000 to $20 000 on average, and this price is not inclusive of any aftercare therapies towards relapse avoidance. Since the procedure remains quite controversial and not widely endorsed, no insurance carrier will currently offset any of the costs of treatment.
The costs are comparable to the expenses of a month of private drug rehab, and if the two programs offered an equal chance at sobriety, the price would be reasonable; but since without therapy experts concede that relapse is likely, $20 000 seems like a lot to pay.
A promising form of treatment
There is no denying the promise of rapid opiate detox, but as it’s currently offered, the health risks and risks of relapse do not make a rapid opiate detox a wise investment.
Hopefully with further research and a better understanding of addiction and the brain, the techniques of humane rapid detox can be safely incorporated into a more comprehensive therapeutic experience.