Thursday April 17th 2014

Is rapid opiate detox safe?

Opiate detox and withdrawal

In general, withdrawal from opiates is unpleasant, uncomfortable and temporarily painful. But however difficult withdrawal is, it is NOT life-threatening, and symptoms of opiate withdrawal gradually decrease over time. If you’re wondering if you’ve started withdrawal, we review the symptoms of opiate withdrawal now.  But it’s no wonder people are interested in alternative ways to withdrawal from opiate drugs. Below, you’ll find a brief review of ultra-rapid opiate detoxification (a.k.a. UROD) and its safety so that you can evaluate the option before you “go under”. And, as always, we welcome your questions and comments.

What is rapid opiate detox?

A relatively new practice of opiate detox withdrawal called “rapid opiate detox” is gaining some popularity. The idea was developed about 20 years ago by detox specialists who hope to help ease the discomfort of withdrawal and decrease the overall time spent in detox.

Basically, the widely advertised treatments for opiate withdrawal called “detox under anesthesia” or “rapid opiate detox” involve placing you under anesthesia and injecting large doses of opiate-blocking drugs. The idea is that the opiate blockers will speed up the return to normal opioid system function. During the procedure, doctors administer a general anesthetic for sedation and then a medicines like naltrexone to trigger symptoms of withdrawal. 4-6 hours you wake up … but detox has just started. So does rapid opiate detox actually work?

Does rapid detox work?

Doctors continue to use techniques developed during rapid detox because, in a sense, the technique does work to move withdrawal and detox along. Plus, treatment outcomes are similar to other types of detox protocols (buprenorphine or clonidine assisted detox). But some of the claims that detox centers make are pure advertising, and have not been proven in clinical trials. In fact, the risks and the costs of rapid opiate detox are real. And as much as you might like the idea of sleeping through withdrawal, you need to know the facts about this procedure. We present them here.

1. Rapid opiate detox does not decrease time in detox.

There is no evidence that ultra-rapid opiate detoxification programs actually reduce the time you spend in withdrawal.

2. Rapid opiate detox does not decrease intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

In some cases, rapid detox may reduce the intensity of symptoms during general anesthesia and the immediate recovery period. But in most cases, once awakened from anesthesia, people who choose ultra rapid detox report symptoms of discomfort comparable to those of more conventional detox procedures using buprenorphine or clonidine assisted detox.

3. Rapid opiate detox is medically risky.

There have been several deaths associated with detox under anesthesia, particularly when performed outside a hospital. Rapid detox can provoke unconsciousness, transient confusion, or depressive mood. Or even worse. Pulmonary, psychiatric complications and metabolic complications from diabetes, all of which require hospitalization are possible. Of particular concern is vomiting during anesthesia (opiate withdrawal produces vomiting). Because of the significant increase in death risk, many specialists think the risks of rapid opiate detox outweigh the potential (and unproven) benefits.

No reason for rapid opiate detox

In sum, experts agree that there is no compelling reason for using general anesthesia to treat opiate dependence, especially as it presents particular safety concerns. Instead, when you are ready to detox from opiates, talk to your doctor first about how to slowly stop prescription medicine or how to taper doses gradually to prevent signs and symptoms of withdrawal. Then, you can check in to a medically supervised detox center to get opiates out of your system.

Reference sources: Ultrarapid detox no better than withdrawal, NIDA 2006 opiate withdrawal studies
Effect of ultra-rapid opiate detoxification on withdrawal syndrome
Ultra-rapid opiate detoxification followed by nine months of naltrexone maintenance therapy in Iran
Medline Plus opiate withdrawal encyclopedia entry

Photo credit: SpectralDesign

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13 Responses to “Is rapid opiate detox safe?
Brittany
9:45 pm December 8th, 2012

This information is incorrect…. i have successfully completed a Rapid Drug Detox and the withdraw was very minimal compared to any of the times I had ever tried to ween down or quit on my own. The doctors took great care of me.. Naloxone is used to clear out the opiate receptors in the brain withen one hour of anesthesia, where as quiting on your own will leave it in your brain for up to 6 months… Yes, anytime anesthesia is involved there may be risks, but the risks of remaining an addict are far more dangerous than the program itself.

1:18 pm December 10th, 2012

Hello Brittany. Thanks for sharing your experience about rapid opiate detox. I’m glad that it worked out well for you.

Mike Rock
6:24 pm June 5th, 2013

I am a business professional and found that my 21 year old son was on Vicoden and even shooting heroin when he had little money. It was the last thing I expected.

I did serious research on rapid detox and re-hab centers. I chose rapid detox with safety as my primary issue, and made the following observations (Which determined price):

1) This should be done in an accredited hospital

2) The doctor should be board certified

3) The patient should be monitored for several days after treatment and not sent home or to a hotel (VERY IMPORTANT)

The cost of difference rapid treatment centers varies considerably depending on the three items above. Again, safety was my main concern.

I sent my son to Waismann, not just because of the three criteria items, but also the fact that they treated in an intensive care unit. They were very professional from beginning to end, which provided a good comfort level.

I keep seeing blogs about the high costs, but when I saw the intensive care unit, doctor, nurses, Waismann staff, aftercare facility with therapy and the nice amenities…I felt I received fair value.

My son did very well during the procedure, possibly due to his young age and good health. He enjoyed their high-end aftercare facility (which he didn’t deserve but it came with the package and he was monitored). He is taking Naltraxone (sp?) to eliminate cravings, and he claims it is working. I drug test him regularly- so far all good.

I am happy to say my son is doing very well, with a new full time job and school at night.

Liz Martin
11:37 pm July 16th, 2013

Mr Mike Rock

Could you please tell me city and state you took son to. I’m in desperate need of help. Do any of these facilities take insurance. I have great substance abuse coverage

Thank you
Liz

JCC1231
12:27 am September 15th, 2013

Rapid detox is as safe as the responsibility of the doctor that performs it. It has to be done in a real hospital, not a surgery center or a clinic where patient cannot stay for more than 24 hrs and there is no additional medical resource if needed.
My son had rapid detox in California. He was inpatient before , during and after the procedure. He was in for 5 days what makes all the difference in the world,
I know parent that saved money and in one of these overnight rapid detox and end up in emergency room a day later with their kids,
It can be a really great procedure if done properly.

Ellen Joy
7:06 pm September 28th, 2013

Rapid opiate detox is a serious and involving procedure. Any reputable and professional rapid detox provider should follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of its patients. Unfortunately, there are many rapid detox facilities that cut corners to save money at the risk of their patients. You’ll need a list of safety protocols to consider when deciding a rapid detox program.

Ellen Joy
10:42 pm October 3rd, 2013

OK, I left a message before, but maybe it got truncated. I wanted to list a blog from the Waismann Method that went over safety measures that rapid detox providers should follow to reduce the risks involved. Rapid detox can be a great thing and positively life changing when it is done responsibly. Unfortunately, there are many bargain rapid detox centers out there that compromise the safety of their patients just to save money and cut corners.

This is one of those procedures that you don’t want to go with the cheapest program out there. Anyway, here’s the blog that goes over the safety issues anyone thinking of doing rapid opiate detox NEEDS to consider before choosing a program.

https://www.rapiddetox.com/2013/09/rapid-detox-difference-safety-first/

ultra rapid detoxification
8:09 am October 16th, 2013

Ultra rapid detoxification is a very serious precedure and, it is safe if done by professionals.

john
3:00 am October 24th, 2013

There are about a dozen of ultra rapid opioid detox (UROD) centers in US. Thousands of UROD cases done yearly around the world. General anesthesia is safer than deep sedation because your airway is secured (ask any anesthesiologist- no risk for aspiration). Under the care of a Board Certified Anesthesiologist, the hemodynamic changes with UROD are well controlled. Regardless if you are in an acute hospital setting or in an accredited facility, the level of risk is the same. Most importantly, your doctor needs to recognized the complication(s) before it happens and treat it in a timely manner (this is the job of anesthesiologist-they are paid to be prepared for the unthinkable). Accredited facilities are required to be within 1/2 hour of an acute care hospital (most facilities are much closer than that). Much of the safety items listed above are more for PR than clinical indication. Screening is the most important criteria for a successful UROD. I have been to the center in Northern California. They do a great job in taking care of you.

Rapid Detox Mom
4:10 am November 1st, 2013

This article Is very so wrong. I went through all kinds of treatments and detoxes with my son. From cold turkey, Suboxone, rehabs and finally rapid detox at the Waismann in California. It was the most comprehensive medical treatment I have ever experienced with him. He was in a hospital and saw the anesthesiologist a cardiologist and so many more tests were done. The detox was almost a miracle in my view. Sure there was a few days he had some symptoms, but compare to anything else we have gone through , it was simply brilliant!
He was in the hospital for 3 days and then the after care for a few more..
Its been 2 years and I cant thank the Waismann Method people enough!
I know other places that do rapid detox have had lots of problems but they are not in a real hospital and they don’t have the experience these people do. They are serious about the care they give.

andrea
6:31 am February 14th, 2014

Ive had back surgery in July 2013 . Since then, im taking hydrocodone along w/muscle relaxers. Im also taking tarka for bp and metformin for diabetics. I want to get off the hydrocodone. .i take 6 a day. I can’t be admitted in a hosp but im scared of chest palpations. Pls help!

john
7:00 pm February 15th, 2014

Andrea,
Your scenario is not unusual. There are a number of outpatient Ultra Rapid Opioid Detox (UROD) facilities in the US. They will be more than adequately equipped to take care of you. Whether you are admitted to hospital or to a detox facility, the quality of the doctors should be the deciding factor. They should be able to identify the source of the palpitations (What causes them, when they start, how you will respond to medical treatment, etc.). If you haven’t seen a cardiologist yet, I suggest that you see one before your detox procedure.

Ultra Rapid Opioid Detox (UROD) has vastly improved since the time of its inception. While the media has shed a negative light on UROD in recent times, it is largely unfounded. Countless numbers of lives have been saved via UROD procedures… So why don’t we hear from them? Unlike other types of medical procedures, successful UROD patients will never talk about their successes. This is largely due to the negative stigma that society has placed on opioid dependency – to admit success is to simultaneously acknowledge an opiate dependency from the past. The result? A system where a majority of successes remain silent and only the minority is heard.

andrea
7:12 pm February 18th, 2014

Thank you John, I feel better!! This is a result from something I had no control over..unfortunately family members are not as helpful and have criticize my situation.

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