What is Rapid Detox?

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Rapid detox is a controversial procedure that promises to get a client through the withdrawal process in as little as a day. It’s not medically endorsed. It makes no scientific sense. It makes no common sense, either. It’s little more than a medical gimmick. Moreover, it’s inherently dangerous.

The process makes use of sedation, anesthesia and a drug called naltrexone. While you are getting the naltrexone, you will be heavily sedated and unaware. Naltrexone is a drug normally used to help recovering opioid addicts stay clean. However, when used for that purpose, it’s given only after the person has completely detoxed from all opioid use.

Naltrexone has the ability to occupy the brain’s opioid receptor sites, but not to activate them. Only one molecule can occupy a receptor site at a time. Naltrexone is able to knock any existing opioid molecule off a receptor. Then it occupies it.

Any circulating opioid molecules cannot attach to any receptors while the naltrexone is there. This is because naltrexone has a higher affinity, or preference, for the brain’s opioid receptors. Naltrexone receptor site occupation will result in a state of instant, full-blown withdrawal for any person addicted to opioids. This is the reason behind the rapid detox sedation. A similar substance, Narcan, or naloxone, is used to rescue victims of acute opioid overdose from death.

After the rapid detox procedure is completed, you are supposed to wake up feeling fine. Again, this is nonsense.

The so-called rapid detox technique has been discontinued by many centers who used to perform it. Some dangers include:

  • Paranoia
  • Heart attack
  • Infection
  • Nausea
  • Very high fever
  • Drug reactions
  • Vomiting
  • Aspiration

Rapid Detox Isn’t Considered Safe

Aspiration occurs when an unconscious person vomits and draws stomach contents into their lungs. This is why you must always refrain from eating for a period of time before a surgical procedure. However, even this isn’t a guarantee that aspiration won’t occur. Even on a so-called empty stomach, it’s still possible to aspirate stomach acids and swallowed saliva into the lungs. Sedation and anesthesia should never be given for frivolous reasons or outside of a surgical setting. Rapid detox is risky. Vomiting is a very common symptom of opioid withdrawal.

Anyone who has experienced withdrawal and gone through the process already knows that rapid detox won’t work. It takes time for the body to recover from a physical drug dependency. Opioid rapid detox claims that naltrexone cleans the brain’s receptors of all opioids. This is true, but so what? This fact does little to address the withdrawal process as a whole. It also does nothing to correct the brain’s altered brain chemistry. The brain will eventually ramp up its own correct production of critical brain chemicals, such as dopamine and endorphins. But it takes time. Lots and lots of time. It can’t be done in a few days, no matter what rapid-detox advocates say.

Even without naltrexone, a withdrawing addict’s brain receptors will be clean of opioids early on in the withdrawal process. The body metabolizes them out within a day or two. In fact, that’s when withdrawal symptoms start to intensify. It’s obvious that clean receptor sites have little to do with a comfortable withdrawal process. Rapid detox sedates the patient during the naltrexone cleaning process, but this makes no sense, either. The patient may be comfortable while they are sedated, but when they wake up, they will feel the full wrath of withdrawal. What’s the point?

Rapid Detox and Relapse

Another problem with rapid detox is that it fails to address the underlying problems that led to the addiction in the first place. The very idea that you can deal with a problem as complex as drug detox in a day or two is fundamentally flawed. It’s downright ludicrous. Even if rapid detox were safe and effective, which it isn’t, it would still be useless. What good does it do to stop a drug if you’re just going to take it up again because you’ve been given no tools to help you stay clean?

That’s not even taking into account the physical process of drug withdrawal. It simply cannot be done in a period of time measured in days. The body can’t heal that fast. It’s especially true for those who have been taking their drug of choice for years or decades. It’s similar to weight loss. No one gains large amounts of weight overnight. It took time to gain the weight. It will take time to lose it, especially if you want to keep it off. Drug dependency is like that. It took time for your brain and body to become changed by your drug use. It’s not reasonable to think that you’re going to just feel normal again right away. Patience is key.

A drug detox and rehab plan must include intensive therapy and counseling in order to have any hope of success. Even some of the best rehab centers in the country still have significant relapse rates in the long run. What good could a day or two of rapid detox possibly do? The whole idea of rapid detox is ludicrous. The only people benefiting from it are the so-called medical professionals collecting the fees for the procedure. Rapid detox can be ridiculously expensive.

Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment Available

If you want to stop using drugs, there are many effective ways to do so. There is a wide variety of treatment choices available. If your addiction is in its early stages, you can consider outpatient treatment. This is much less expensive than inpatient treatment and also allows you to continue with your daily life and routine. If your addiction is more severe, inpatient rehab is probably your best choice. Again, you have lots of choices. Some facilities are co-ed; others are not. Perhaps you’d rather not be distracted by the opposite sex while you’re in rehab. Some use the 12-step program; others use other methods.

Ask for Help

You can call us 24 hours a day. We are here to help you find the best resources and facilities for your needs. Just call us at 866-802-6848. We will be happy to answer all your questions and help you find the best detox, inpatient or outpatient center for you.

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.