Admitting that you have an addiction feels like the hardest step in the recovery process. What happens after begins to take on a logical, almost inevitable, pattern. Detox, drug detoxification is one of the main steps in kicking a drug habit. You have to get the drug(s) out of your system before you can begin the work of rebuilding your life.

For years theΒ Medical Detox rehab californiaΒ process has been a pretty set process of cold turkey and withdrawal symptom management, either at home or medically supervised. About 10 years ago we started hearing about a β€œultra rapid detox” system where patients with opiate addictions would be essentially unconscious for about 8 hours and wake up β€œdrug-free.” The process has gained in popularity so let’s explore what β€œultra rapid detox” means and if it works.

Normal detoxing from drugs is usually about a 10 day process. Rapid detoxing is usually a 3-5 day process, done under medical supervision. Ultra rapid is a 3-8 hour process. So you can see that the time difference is astonishing. The question is β€” does ultra rapid detox work? The answer, from my research is Yes and No.

The patient checks into the clinic and undergoes all the general screening you’d expect with any medical procedure. There are risks with general anesthesia and risks with Naltrexone (the drug that is usually used in the detox process.) Doctors don’t like to have patients under general anesthesia for longer than about 6 hours. Some detox programs try to keep addicts sedated for close to 24 hours, which is risky. But they want to have the patient wake up as close to withdrawal free as possible.

Naltrexone, as the agent to help with the withdrawal, is much better than its cousin Naloxone, but it still has some physical side effects to note. Muscle fatigue is the most common and can last for several days.

On the surface, the addict comes out of the detox with all or most physical withdrawal symptoms gone. As I said, this is usually accomplished by a drug called Naltrexone. It is administered intravenously and it basically blocks the opiate receptors from working. So any traces of opiates left in your system do nothing to make you feel high. Naltrexone generally lasts a few hours, so ultra rapid detox patients have to take a Naltrexone pill every day for (usually) a year after detox. This certainly helps ensure that if the addict relapses, there’s no physical enjoyment from the drug β€” in other words, you can shoot up, but there is no euphoria. The bad part is that the addict can skip a dose of Naltrexone, shoot up and get the euphoria.

The biggest drawback to ultra rapid detox is that it only solves half the equation. You are still addicted psychologically. Physically you don’t need the drug, but mentally and emotionally, you do. The literature you read comparing detox programs tends to downplay the after care question. It’s easier to sell a one-time cure and not discuss the true journey that is recovery.

So, it seems to me, that this type of detox can certainly be part of the cure. If you want to get to the mental and emotional parts of addiction recovery more quickly, explore the β€œultra” method. It cost 5 to 10 times more money than a more standard detox, which in my book makes it much less attractive. On the other hand, for many people the withdrawal scares them. They’ve experienced the tiniest taste of the hell of opiate withdrawal and fear keeps them from taking the next step to being drug free. Whatever it takes to help you get sober, whatever the cost, it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

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