What is Rapid Detox? How Can It Be Done More Safely?
By Thomas Yee, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor
of Nevada School of Medicine
Medical Director of Las Vegas Rapid Detox Center
is Opioid Withdrawal?
The withdrawal syndrome is
what holds people back from quitting addiction to narcotics or opioids. It is not that a person addicted to Oxy-Contin or
Heroin not desiring a life without opioid drugs, rather it is the painful withdrawal syndrome that makes them so apprehensive
that they refrain from trying. The syndrome resembles an extremely severe case of the flu, and uncontrollable tearing, nasal
discharge, yawning, sneezing, anorexia, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, itch, and aches. For
patients who are debilitated or dehydrated, there could be serious complications.
What is Rapid Detox?
without the help of any medications to temper the effect of opioid withdrawal, patients go through an extremely difficult
5 to 6 days of withdrawal when they try to quit narcotics "cold-turkey" fashion. The extreme discomfort prompts
most patients to give up before the can quit the addiction. By some definition, "oral medication rapid detox" is
a 3 to 5 day course treatment using primarily pills, such as Clonidine and Naltrexone. Patients still experience significant
opioid withdrawal. Ultra Rapid Detox, also known as Rapid Detox, actually is a one day treatment where patients receive intravenous
naloxone medication under deep sedation or general anesthesia. Essentially, Rapid Detox concentrates 6 days of narcotic withdrawal
into 10 hours. The discomfort would be too great for an awake patient to bear, thus the general anesthesia. The advantage
is that patients wake up from the anesthesia and the Naloxone intravenous infusion, with most of the physical component of
the addiction eliminated.
Possible complications for the
true Rapid Detox or Ultra Rapid Detox:
rate, hypertension, diarrhea, aspiration, pulmonary edema, and post-procedure feeling of exhaustion lasting 7 to 10 days.
Prevention of complications related to Rapid Detox:
In order to prevent the complications related to rapid detox,
it is imperative that the procedure be performed by a board-certified anesthesiologist with more than 10 year experience in
giving general anesthesia to patients with multiple medical problems. Also the doctor should have more than 10 year experience
in pain management with knowledge of narcotic medications and their effects.
Treatment of post rapid detox exhaustion:
Intra-muscular injection of vitamin B12 and other B vitamin would offer a longer term effect in reducing the subjective feeling
of exhaustion. Vitamin B and C complex pills, taken 3 times a day, are also recommended. Further, Green Tea Extract pills
are recommended to patients. In addition, daily exercise, hot-shower, hot-bath, rich meals are highly recommended for the
2 weeks following rapid detox.
Rapid Detox (Ultra Rapid Detox) can be performed with high degree
of safety if it were conducted by physicians who are board certified in both anesthesiology and pain medicine with more than
10 year of experience in each. The complications are related to general anesthesia and magnified opioid withdrawal, as well
as the medication Naloxone. Only experienced anesthesiologists who are used to dealing with sick patients undergoing long
courses of general anesthesia and ICU patients should perform the procedure. Further, the post-treatment feeling of exhaustion
experienced by patients can be reduced with a few simple techniques.
Thomas Yee, MD