How dangerous is rapid detox? Rapid detox dangers occur when doctors practice irresponsible medicine. Unfortunately, this has happened in the past, leading to common misconceptions about rapid detox and its safety. In the earliest days of rapid detox protocols, adequate treatment standards were not established. Patients suffering from addiction were treated like third class citizens. As a result, basic safety standards were neglected and medical doctors deviated from responsible medical practices. In the end, patients suffered and rapid detox received a negative reputation.
Rapid detox and anesthesia-assisted detox have evolved from these difficult beginnings. These procedures are now successful, effective, and safe. Even more important, they provide a compassionate approach to help patients address opioid abuse. Patients and families should carefully research treatment programs offering rapid detox to ensure they are safe.
What Makes Rapid Detox Safe?
#1. Doctors must carefully consider who is a good candidate for rapid detox.
Rapid detox can be a life-saving procedure for people who have not succeeded in getting through opioid withdrawal. People commonly struggle with withdrawal due to physical symptoms or emotional reasons. However, not everyone is a good candidate for rapid detox. Physicians with expertise in rapid detox must carefully assess each patient on an individual basis. This includes a full medical history and physical evaluation. The need to carefully determine candidacy for rapid detox is the reason that patients must be admitted to a full-service hospital one day before the procedure.
#2. Rapid detox should only be provided in a full-service hospital.
Patients who abuse opioids also abuse their bodies. Repeated, chronic exposure to opioids alters brain and body functioning. For example, opioids trigger brain changes that disrupt breathing, blood pressure, alertness, and other critical functions. Opioid dependence also affects numerous organ systems, including cardiac, pulmonary, kidney, and liver health.
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Given the changes that occur to various organ systems due to chronic opioid use, the withdrawal process can be potentially dangerous. If any of these organs have significant abnormalities, it is essential for the person to be in a full-service hospital. A full-service hospital offers specialists who can consult about potential medical issues, evaluate candidacy for detox under anesthesia, and treat medical issues that may arise during detoxification.
In some cases, a patient is not a good candidate for rapid detox or decides he or she does not want to be placed under anesthesia during withdrawal. For these people, other medical options are typically available. In a full-service hospital environment, a team of medical professionals provides 24/7 supervision and withdrawal management during the detoxification period. This ensures that every patient — whether undergoing rapid detox or a different detox protocol — gets through opioid detoxification safely and effectively.
Another advantage of a full-service hospital environment is the availability of immediate emergency assistance if needed. Often, patients treated in surgery centers develop serious complications and must be transferred to a real hospital for additional medical care. Any delay in the process of transferring the patient can lead to critical medical complications. Another disadvantage of surgical centers is that they often impose pre-set discharge times. At a full-service hospital, your physical readiness — not arbitrary deadlines — determine when a person is discharged.
#3. Only experienced doctors should offer rapid detox.
To be experts in rapid detox, doctors must receive specialized training. Experienced doctors know how to tailor and change the detox protocol to meet each individual’s particular needs. Furthermore, only an experienced doctor may recognize subtle physical changes that could be signs of a larger problem during the detoxification period. Knowing when and how to intervene (or consult with other professionals) comes with experience, security, and confidence in one’s medical judgment. That is why it is essential to ensure that a doctor administering rapid detox has specialized training in this area.
#4. Rapid detox requires individualized care.
Some subpar rapid detox centers admit patients only one day per week. These centers treat multiple patients’ side-by-side in shared, non-ICU medical rooms. While this reduces costs for the treatment program, it presents serious safety risks: 1) patients do not receive the individualized attention they deserve; 2) if one patient experiences an unexpected event during detox, the other patients will directly suffer due to lack of attention; and 3) it dehumanizes the detoxification experience. In no other medical situation are patients placed with strangers to receive care at the same time. This approach makes it clear that people struggling with opioid dependence are still treated as second-class citizens at many facilities. Good rapid detox centers treat patients as individuals, not “addicts.”
A high-quality rapid detox center treats the patient in the intensive care unit or ICU. The ICU is a department of the hospital that provides a more intensive level of medical supervision and treatment. This is appropriate for rapid detox protocols, as it provides continuous and close monitoring. Intensive support is available if needed to ensure safety. Furthermore, ICUs have a higher staff-to-patient ratio than other units within a hospital. This ensures that the most highly trained doctors and nurses care for rapid detox patients. The ICU also has access to medical equipment that is not routinely available in other medical units.
After Rapid Detox: Ensuring a Successful Recovery
Opioid dependence changes the chemical balance of your brain and body. Your whole metabolism relies on opioids to function. When opioid use ends, your body goes through a complicated and exhausting transition. This includes discomfort, mood swings, sensitivity to light and temperature, and anxiety. These, in turn, may lead to poor sleep, cravings, anger, and even depression and desperation.
As much as loved ones want to help, they are not trained to provide care in these fragile moments. Family members add their own anxieties and stressors to the pot, escalating the situation and increasing risk of relapse.
The period immediately post-detox is the most critical for a person’s successful recovery. That is why the best rapid detox programs offer a supportive aftercare environment. Receiving care from professionals during this challenging period is not a luxury — it is a necessity. There are no overnight miracles, and recovery takes time. By providing a compassionate, safe, and professional recovery facility, the chances of successful drug treatment are maximized.
When it comes to opioid dependence, there are no miracle cures or magic treatments. The recovery process takes time, patience, and emotional space for healing. Rapid detox and anesthesia-assisted detox protocols are safe, effective, and compassionate methods for opioid detoxification. After successful detoxification, physical and emotional recovery for a few days, in a supportive environment ensures safety and a much better chance for long-term sobriety. Choose a rapid detox center carefully to ensure that compassionate care and patient safety come first.
Reviewed by Clare Waismann, CATC, Founder of Waismann Method® Advanced Treatment for Opiate Dependence
All topics for the RapidDetox.com blog are selected and written based on high standards of editorial quality and cited sources. Articles are reviewed by Clare Waismann, CATC and founder of Waismann Method®, for accuracy, credibility and relevancy to the audience. Clare Waismann is an authority and expert on opioid dependence, detoxification treatments and related topics covered on the RapidDetox.com blog. Some articles are additionally reviewed by one of Waismann Method®’s specialists, depending on their field of expertise. For additional information and disclaimers regarding third-party sources and content for informational purposes only, please see our Terms of Service.