It sounds easy enough, right? Your loved one is having problems that are caused by heroin use or abuse of opiate painkillers so the simple solution seems to be to just stop. If only it were that easy.
Unfortunately, addiction is a powerful and insidious disease that affects both the brain and the body. Addicts often feel completely controlled by their drug of choice and driven by nothing but getting and staying high. Should they stray from this single-minded task, their body will revolt in the form of devastating withdrawal symptoms and mentally they will fight overwhelming cravings, agitation and more.
A medical opiate detox is the only recommended and safe way to address the issue, but one method – rapid opiate detox – may be just as deadly as the disease it is attempting to “cure.”
Safe and Responsible Detox
Though many believe that one opiate detox is like the next, the fact is that there are a number of different methods that are used to help patients break free from opiate dependence – and they are not all created equal. The options include:
- Rapid detox. Under anesthesia, patients remain unconscious and given medication until they are physically free of their opiate dependence. In some cases, a blood transfusion may be used to speed up the process – though this is rarely used in the United States.
- Medicated detox. Patients are given a “replacement” medication under strict supervision, usually methadone or buprenorphine, that allows them to bypass most of the withdrawal symptoms. They are still addicted to opiates, but they lower their dose in a slow and controlled fashion in order to make the process more manageable.
- Natural detox. No addictive medications are used in a natural or drug-free detox, though the patient may be prescribed non-addictive medication in order to stay as comfortable as possible until withdrawal symptoms pass.
Each week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) releases a “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report,” and incidences of opiate detox that result in harm or death to the addict are frequently included in those reports. In fact, in a single week, three adverse reactions to rapid opiate detox were reported. According to the report, three patients at an outpatient treatment facility experienced negative effects after going through a rapid anesthesia-assisted detox; each of these patients required hospitalization, and one of them died. As a result, the clinic was ordered to stop performing this method of detox, which has been shown time and again to be deadly at worst and ineffective at best.
A Safe Detox
The safest and quickest detox is a supervised one in which non-addictive medications are used, and the patient is carefully monitored at all times. Round-the-clock supervision that addresses any complications as they arise, provides emotional support, and begins the process of therapeutic recovery is advised.
Additionally, it is important to note that detox is not enough to treat opiate addiction. If your loved one is dependent on heroin or prescription painkillers, intensive addiction treatment that addresses the psychological dependence is necessary. Call now to find out more about your options in opiate rehab here at Alta Mira today.