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Rapid Drug Detox: Process, Risks, and Effects on Mental Health

Rapid detox involves administering opioid antagonist medicines while sedated for four to six hours to push opioid substances like narcotics or prescription medications out of the body. Because the individual is drugged during the procedure, the agony and suffering associated with opiate withdrawal are avoided.


The theory is that the drugs will have been flushed out of the system by the time the person awakens, reducing the severity of withdrawal. After being kept under watch for an extended period (often one night), the patient is finally freed.

Does Rapid Detox Work?

What is Rapid Drug Detox

In rare cases, rapid detox may rid the system of opioids. Addiction, meanwhile, is a complex mental health issue that needs long-term therapy and does not respond well to detox.


While it may only take a few days to complete detox, the path to recovery might be lengthy. Rapid detox patients also need assistance, such as inpatient or outpatient care, to overcome their addiction. In addition, since relapse is so prevalent in narcotics addiction, a person who resumes drug use after a short period of detox is essentially starting again.


The American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that 2.5 million Americans (including those aged 12 and above) struggled with opioid addiction in 2015. Individuals experiencing opioid withdrawal may be reluctant to enroll in a rehab program of the length suggested by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which advises that a treatment plan for addiction should run for a minimum of three months.


As reported by the National Institute on Drug Addiction, considerable research demonstrates that this approach does not help people remain sober. Rapid detox is not considered an efficient method of detoxification and is thus not suggested by healthcare practitioners and specialists.

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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Process of Rapid Detoxification

Rapid detox tends to a faster conversion from dependency to sobriety in the hopes of enhancing the likelihood of the completed withdrawal, in contrast to the more extended treatment regimens required by typical opiate detox solutions.


Rapid detox, which emerged in the '80s, is intended to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and, in turn, increase the chances that an individual would seek out and complete drug abuse treatment. Patients are put under general anesthesia and given an opiate blocker like naltrexone to start the detox procedure. As soon as the process is over, medicines may be used to ease withdrawal effects.


Rapid detox has specific hazards for the patient's health, and it is not a proper therapeutic intervention. No matter how it's accomplished, detox is an excellent place to start the journey toward recovery from drug use, but it seldom serves as a good destination in and of itself. If you want to stay sober for the long haul, you need to deal with the core issues that prompted your drug abuse in the first place. A practical treatment approach can assist you in developing this ability.

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How Effective Is Rapid Detoxification?

According to the available data, it is not apparent if standard withdrawal therapy or quick detox seems to be helpful for opioid addiction. Therefore, people who had undergone a rapid detox were evaluated as those who underwent standard treatment with buprenorphine and those who underwent therapy with clonidine and non-opioid medicines.


Those who were given quick detox did not fare better in terms of resilience to relapse, and they experienced more pain during and after the process. In addition, only 20% of individuals assigned to the fast detox group completed therapy, compared to 24% of those assigned to the buprenorphine group.


Other concerns than effectiveness need to be addressed in quick detox. No research that satisfied the criteria for critical analysis has shown that immediate detox therapy is safe. One study issued a caution regarding the use of rapid detox procedures. It was prompted by the findings of 6 independent researches that revealed a significant risk of complications and a greater possibility for adverse effects that might be fatal.


Concerns about fast detox's effectiveness and safety aside, it doesn't address any underlying mental health concerns. Rapid detox has been demonstrated to exacerbate the symptoms of mental health disorders. As a result, people with mental health issues often miss out on the concurrent therapy that goes with medically approved detox.


Opiate addicts get an advantage from medically supervised detox, during which their bodies can rid themselves of opioids while experiencing withdrawal symptoms in a secure and pleasant environment provided by medical specialists.

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Risks of Rapid Detox

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) advises against undergoing a quick opioid detox, stating that potential advantages do not justify the hazards involved. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports multiple deaths related to rapid opiate detox.

According to JAMA, other potential risks associated with quick detox usually involve:


  • Reduced levels of thyroid hormone.

  • Enhanced sympathetic nervous system function.

  • Hallucinations.

  • Increased suicidal behaviors.

  • Death.

  • A rise in the stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline, and corticotropin.

  • Breathing difficulties.

  • Kidney failure.

  • Pulmonary distress.

  • Deranged heart rhythms.

How Much Does It Cost To Rapid Detox?

The cost of rapid detox varies widely depending on specifics. Overnight hospitalization is required for the procedure. Furthermore, the price quickly rises due to the need for anesthesia and careful supervision. Since insurance providers do not often pay for procedures that are not strictly essential to maintain health, this kind of treatment is usually not covered.


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Rapid Detox and Its Effects on Mental Health

Mental health symptoms may become much more severe if quick detox is tried. More than 15% of persons battling substances also undergo a major mental disorder. As a result, about 30% of those suffering from severe mental health illnesses also engage in drug addiction. In addition, patients in rehab for substance abuse often uncover co-occurring mental health issues.


Some people may turn to substance abuse to briefly alleviate the symptoms of mental illness that have not yet been adequately identified. Opioids induce tranquility and may provide short relief from various mental health problems, including sadness, anxiety, and panic attacks.


However, the effects of drug misuse and addiction are cumulative and ultimately harmful. Using illicit drugs makes it more difficult to manage mental illness since drug interactions with prescribed medicine are a real possibility.

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How much does it cost to rapid detox?
Rapid detox and its effects on mental health
Risks of rapid detox
Process of rapid detoxification
How effective is rapid detoxification?

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