Rapid opiate detox. Detox on Sunday, back at work on Monday…too good to be true?

Rapid opiate detox. Detox on Sunday, back at work on Monday…too good to be true?

Relative newcomers to the field of addiction and recovery, clinics offering rapid opiate detox have sprung up across the nation and the world, and the claims and promises they make sound very attractive to any opiate addict seeking sobriety, but fearful of the pains of detox.

Advocates of rapid opiate detox claim that through the procedure, addicts can undergo an accelerated form of detox while under anesthesia, finish within a day, and experience no pain.

How it works

Patients are paced under anesthesia, and once sedated they are administered a cocktail of drugs that accelerate and intensify the detox period (primarily the opiate antagonist nalexone) the pains of this quickened detox would be unimaginable were the patient conscious, but since they proceed through the day of withdrawal sedated, they awake at the end of the detox with no memory of the procedure, and completely opiate free.

The process can vary in duration from a few hours to a day or more, but at the end of it detox is over, and patients will feel no additional intense sensations of withdrawal.

The drug naltrexone is prescribed most commonly for the months after detox, to help with cravings back to use, but no additional therapy or education is offered. Patients are considered to be cured of their addiction, and ready to resume their lives without the abuse of drugs after only a day or two of care.

The procedure is expensive, and ranges from between 000 and $ 20 000 and insurance providers do not cover any of these expenses.


There are a number of issues of controversy surrounding the use of this novel technique, and critics have argued that the high costs of the procedure as well as the absence of any therapy towards drug avoidance makes the procedure a very expensive detox, unlikely to offer a long term solution to the problem of addiction and drug seeking.

Perhaps the greatest point of contention surrounds the safety of the procedure, and a well known clinic was recently disbanded after a slew of deaths occurred within days of patients having undergone the procedure.

Doctors argue that the detox is tough on the body as is, and when the detox pains are accelerated and intensified, the strain on the body grows proportionally. Since many patients entering into detox from heroin or other opiate based pills are not in an ideal state of health, they are at serious risk from this acceleration of strain on the body and mind.


Most independent and impartial addictions professionals do recognize the value in this new form of detox, but argue that as it’s used now, and without any complimentary therapies for relapse avoidance, the risks, expenses and likelihood of relapse make it a poor choice, tempting as it may be.

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