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Rapid Detox

group therapy

Allies in Recovery member mom101 recently inquired about methods of rapid detox:

"Has anyone heard of or used RDD method of rapid detox? An intravenous detox?"

Rapid detoxification from a drug involves anesthetizing the person and then injecting a high dose of opiate-blocking drugs. The idea is that the person sleeps through the worst of the withdrawal.

I am not an expert in medical detox and there is little study of this method. My common sense tells me that having your system flushed with opiate blockers, whether you are awake or asleep, will leave you in withdrawal, and withdrawal then takes its inevitable course, the worst of which typically lasts several weeks to a month.

Here is a write-up of the method taken from a National Institute of Drug Abuse publication:

The American Society of Addiction Medicine reversed its support of the practice in 2005.

In the Journal of American Medicine, Dr. Eric Collins of Columbia University Medical Center, in his comparative study of three methods of detox, found no difference between this method and any other:

We’ve talked about this before on this blog. There are individual differences in how people withdraw. The drugs of abuse are stronger than ever. Withdrawal will likely be excruciating and long. The medical provider and the family need to have a plan that includes a safe place for the Loved One to be as the withdrawal symptoms linger. Gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, restlessness, depression, and physical weakness drag on and conspire to lower resistance, inviting relapse. I would plan on one month of a protected environment. If I were designing the continuum of care, it would include withdrawal rehabs. At the very least, the Loved One may need a medical absence from work, help with food, childcare, transport, and emotional and physical supports – like help getting to self-help.

If your Loved One is considering detox, insist that the provider help you put together a plan for once they are discharged, and be prepared with patience and love to support them through what is a slow moving process of healing.

Your Loved One can heal and can find live worth living. Having good supports will encourage motivation for staying the course and for getting to the other side.



In your comments, please show respect for each other and do not give advice. Please consider that your choice of words has the power to reduce stigma and change opinions (ie, "person struggling with substance use" vs. "addict", "use" vs. "abuse"...)

  1. Ultrarapid opioid detoxification adds the risk and cost of general anesthesia over and above that of standard medically supervised opioid withdrawal, without any additional benefit in terms of short- or long-term outcomes. Agonist treatment with methadone or buprenorphine are the most effective treatments we have. However, if someone insists on opioid-free treatment, then standard medically supervised withdrawal from short-acting opioids should be followed as soon as possible by induction onto extended-release injectable naltrexone .