Rapid Detoxification Programs Found to be Unsafe
Detoxification experts from the Novus Medical Detox Center are warning against the dangers of rapid drug and alcohol detoxification programs because they have been found to produce an elevation of withdrawal symptoms.
The World Health Organization recently reported that 13.5 million people worldwide take opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids are involved in more than 40% of the drug poisoning deaths within the United States.
In 2008, more than 41,000 people died from drug poisoning, more than the 38,000 people who died from motor vehicle accidents. Nine out of ten of those poisoning deaths were the result of drugs. The CDC report blamed the misuse of prescription medications for much of the rise in poisoning deaths, which has tripled since 1980. In 1980, there were 4.8 poisoning deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. In 2008, there were 13.5 deaths from poisoning per 100,000 people.
Those seeking treatment for drug abuse can opt for anesthesia-assisted rapid detox or gradual-withdrawal detox programs.
However, a clinical study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that rapid detox programs are not pain-free or risk-free. They also offer no advantage over other treatment methods with respect to withdrawal symptoms. The report also found rapid detox sometimes produce dangerous adverse reactions in some patients.
The researchers concluded that their research “demonstrates no benefit of anesthesia over a safer, cheaper and potentially outpatient alternative.” They also found that general anesthesia “does not currently have a meaningful role to play in the treatment of opioid dependence”.
Novus Detox’s Director Kirk Burness warns rapid detox has inherent risks. Burness advises those seeking detox treatments to opt for a medically supervised inpatient program. Novus’ Medical Director is Brent Agin, M.D.
“Rapid detox clinics claim that patients can avoid the most severe withdrawal symptoms by going under anesthesia for six to eight hours. However, recuperation from the strong drug injected during rapid detox often takes from a few days to several weeks,” said Burness. “On top of that, anesthesia has its own risks, which can include permanent damage to the brain, heart or other major organs as well as memory dysfunction or memory loss. That’s why most experts agree that the best and safest approach is a medically supervised detox program in an inpatient setting.”
Burness asserts that gradual-withdrawal methods offer a safer alternative to rapid detox, and cites the advantages of inpatient drug treatment programs.
“At Novus, our patients are treated in a comfortable, residential setting and remain conscious and alert – many can even continue handling family and business matters remotely during their stay. We use medications only as needed, and our patients receive nutritious meals and natural supplements, which help fortify the body and aid in faster recovery.”
Many rapid detox programs prescribe additional drugs to manage the discomforts associated with their detox treatments, which puts additional stress upon the body according to Burness. This, Dr. Burness states, is unnecessary in gradual-withdrawal programs.
This gradual withdrawal approach also relates to the detoxification of other types chemicals, including food additives, toxins and other synthetics. The “cleansing” programs proposed by some also utilize rapid detoxification methods, which can release toxins into the bloodstream too quickly and overwhelm the liver.
This includes some of the intestinal cleansing programs that advertise their ability to quickly remove toxins. While they may indeed remove some toxins, they might also hamper the immune system and the digestive system from doing their jobs – creating an problem that might overwhelm the body.
World Health Organization. “Management of Substance Abuse: Opiates.” http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/opiates/en
Warner, Margaret et al. Drug Poisoning Deaths in the United States, 1980-2008. December 2011. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db81.pdf
Collins, Eric D. et al. “Anesthesia-Assisted vs Buprenorphine- or Clonidine-Assisted Heroin Detoxification and Naltrexone Induction: A Randomized Trial.” The Journal of the American Medical Association. August 24/31, 2005; 293(8):903.