The Claims and Outcomes of Rapid Detox
The first step toward the successful treatment of alcohol or drug abuse is detoxification. In 2001, 50 percent of all people who entered addiction treatment facilities for detox completed the process. That means half who attempt detox don’t see it through — often leaving before treatment is finished or failing to successfully self-detox at home. The latter is a common mistake, and many are set up for failure from the very beginning because they’re not in the care of a professional facility that specializes in what they’re going through.
While detox in general is highly successful when completed, one such form is not, despite regular claims of its excellence. Rapid detox is not only dangerous and potentially life-threatening, but recent research touts no evidence that it is any better than traditional detox.
The Detox Process
The first step of any detox experience is the intake interview. During this process, you’ll meet with psychotherapists and doctors and discuss not only your substance abuse habits — which you will need to be totally honest about — but also other parts of your life. The staff members who are caring for you will need to know your medical history, including any mental health diagnoses. In addition, you’ll be screened for disorders before treatment. Diagnosing underlying disorders prior to detox can significantly improve your chances of a successful outcome as well as ease your discomfort during the process. Around 37 percent of alcoholics and 53 percent of drug addicts are also battling at least one severe mental health disorder, like schizophrenia.
A Detox Timeline
Alcohol addicts can expect to begin feeling withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, headache, irritability, and more within three to eight hours of their last drink. For those who experience deliriums tremens, up to 5 percent have been shown to die as a result. Some alcohol addicts may benefit from medications such as benzodiazepines to lessen the withdrawal effects. Disulfiram is prescribed for many outpatient detox alcoholics to hinder their ability to drink by causing heart palpitations, nausea, and vomiting when they do.
Those addicted to heroin or other opiates, such as prescription opioid pain relievers, will have to endure agitation, goose bumps, vomiting, and diarrhea, among other unpleasant symptoms from four to 10 days after their last use. Those who misuse prescription opiates or heroin face the same symptoms when withdrawing from the highly addictive substances. Approximately 9 percent of the America population misuses these drugs at some point in their lives.
If you’re dependent on stimulants like cocaine or amphetamines, prepare yourself for depression, strong cravings for the drug, severe fatigue and lethargy, and, potentially, delirium and psychosis. These symptoms generally set in within three days, and they can last for more than a month. Benzodiazepines are regularly prescribed for the mediation of withdrawal symptoms experienced by detoxing stimulant addicts. Unfortunately, these addicts are at high risk for relapse, up to 93 percent from traditional detox a rate that is suspected of having the potential to be even higher among rapid detox patients.
Much of the research on LSD claims it doesn’t often cause withdrawal symptoms, but this is primarily because most people don’t abuse it on a regular basis. For those who do, they can expect anxiety, depression, depersonalization, and mood swings. They’re also at risk for hallucinogen persisting perception disorder, a condition that inflicts the user with flashbacks of the feelings they experienced while under the influence of a hallucinogen, something one in 50,000 people are affected by — primarily LSD users.
The Downside of Rapid Detox
The potential risks of rapid detox are real and scary. One New Jersey physician, Dr. Lance L. Gooberman, devoted his life’s work to tweaking the rapid detox process into the perfect program for opiate addicts. However, Dr. Gooberman lost seven patients in a four-year span during the late 1990s. The governing state board actually classified the doctor’s method as being “potentially life-threatening” during that time period, but unfortunately didn’t intervene to put a stop to it until more lives were lost. Research on rapid detox is sparse at best and that which does exist is fairly inconclusive, leaving room for the conclusion that it is not a trusted method of detox by practicing facilities and physicians.
Those with mental health disorders may face an even greater risk when detoxing this way. Thus, this danger is a valid concern for the 29 percent of people with mental illness who are also battling substance abuse. Among the entire nation’s population, 45.9 million had a diagnosed mental illness in 2010. Rapid detox also comes with a price tag that reaches $10,000, and currently there is no peer-reviewed research on the method to support its efficacy. Likewise, insurance companies often won’t pay for the detox method.