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Ultra-Rapid Detox: What You Need to Know

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For opiate addicts looking to get sober, the first step is detoxification or “detox.” When the body is deprived of the drugs it has become dependent upon, withdrawal symptoms kick in. Unfortunately, it’s usually the unrelenting discomfort of withdrawal that makes an addict reconsider his or her decision to quit. In an attempt to avoid these pains and quickly introduce relapse prevention therapy, a group of clinicians developed a procedure called ultra-rapid detox.

What Happens During Ultra-Rapid Detox?

Once unconscious, a drug called naltrexone is flushed through the body via IV infusion. When undergoing ultra-rapid detox, an opiate-addicted patient is put under general anesthesia. Once unconscious, a drug called naltrexone is flushed through the body via IV infusion. Naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist, purges opiates from the body and quickly causes the patient to enter withdrawal. Most sessions last somewhere between three to six hours.

Procedure Side Effects

A 2004 study conducted by the Journal of Postgraduate Medicine details side effects observed during the ultra-rapid detox procedure. Those include:
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Infection
  • Gastric (stress) ulcer
  • Heart-related complications
  • Renal failure
Upon waking, most patients feel extremely lethargic and sore. The procedure puts an extreme amount of stress on the body, as does going under general anesthesia for several hours. Some patients will need strict bed rest for up to three days, while others will require a much longer recovery period. It’s also important to note that many patients continue to experience moderate withdrawal symptoms post-procedure. Common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sleep disturbances. These can last for a period of days or even weeks.

Is Ultra-Rapid Detox a Cure?

If sleeping peacefully through the withdrawal process and waking up addiction-free sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. The procedure should never be viewed as a cure for opiate addiction or a sure-fire way to avoid withdrawal. In fact, a NIDA-funded clinical trial found that ultra-rapid detox patients suffer withdrawal symptoms that are just as severe as those felt during traditional detoxification methods.

Additional Research Includes:

  • A 2005 study published in The Journal of American Medical Association found there is no proof to support the claim that general anesthesia benefits heroin detoxification.
  • A 2013 study published in JAMA calls the procedure’s safety into question. In a five month period, one New York ultra-rapid detox clinic saw two deaths and five hospitalizations.
  • A 2007 study published by Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience found ultra-rapid opiate detox has a relapse rate that is at or below those of an outpatient detox program.
In a five month period, one New York ultra-rapid detox clinic saw two deaths and five hospitalizations. Learn more about the different types of detox treatment methods Photo Source: istock