Do Rapid Detoxes Work?

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Addiction is a very complex, almost enigmatic disease that’s very different from virtually all other diseases. While most others are either physical or psychological, addiction lies somewhere in between with aspects of both a physical and psychological illness. This complicated nature has made the treatment of addiction and the development of effective rehabilitation techniques a rather lengthy process.

However, today we know that every addict develops and suffer from addiction in their own, unique ways, which makes it essential for people to be treated as individuals rather than shoehorned into the same type of programs with the same curricula. Instead, an addiction treatment plan consists of the programs and services that best address a person’s recovery needs, which vary from one person to the next.

While the components of an effective recovery plan are dependent on a person’s individual needs, it’s recommended that a person begins with detox treatment before progressing into an inpatient program followed by some form of continued treatment or aftercare such as an intensive outpatient program, transitional living, or even just twelve-step meetings.

With such a recovery plan as this, a person has a very high chance of achieving lasting sobriety since the plan would include sufficient length of treatment while addressing physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual recovery needs. But even with this recovery plan, there’s still much room for personalization and variation.

There are multiple types of addiction treatment, including inpatient and outpatient programs, detox treatment, and aftercare. Moreover, there are multiple types of each form of treatment, such as residential and extended care inpatient programs, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, and so on.

When it comes to detox treatment, the most common programs that are available are medical detox treatment, which is a form of inpatient treatment, and outpatient detox treatment. And there’s one other type of detox treatment, one that’s not nearly as common as the other types, but one that alleges to significantly reduce the amount of time necessary to overcome an addiction.

What Exactly is a Rapid Detox?

When a person abuses alcohol or drugs, the brain experiences a surge in certain neurochemicals. Specifically, levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin spike, causing feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Wanting to experience those feelings again and again, a person will continue abusing alcohol or drugs with increasing frequency. But since the brain is experiencing frequent surges in neurotransmitters, it begins to adapt to the substance abuse by adjusting its natural production of those chemicals in an effort to restore the body to equilibrium.

In other words, the neurochemical spikes caused by substance abuse cause the body to reduce or cease its own production to compensate. This illustrates how a person becomes physically dependent on alcohol or drugs.

Overcoming physical dependency isn’t quite as simple as just ceasing alcohol or drug consumption and immediately returning to the former state of health. When someone who has become physically dependent on alcohol or drugs abruptly ceasing consumption, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms.

Therefore, overcoming physical dependence would require some form of treatment to alleviate the discomfort that follows the cessation of alcohol or drug intake, and that’s the point of rapid detox. The term “rapid detox” is often used interchangeably with “the Waismann method” after one of the two physicians who developed the technique.

In a rapid detox, a patient is put under general anesthesia, during which time the body is forcibly detoxed using opiate blockers like naloxone and naltrexone. This pushes the person into full withdrawal, but due to being under anesthesia, there’s no discomfort.

Meanwhile, in addition to the opiate blockers, the patient is given muscle relaxants and other medications that will soothe any withdrawal symptoms that might linger beyond the point when the individual comes out of anesthesia. In many cases, the patient begins receiving Suboxone just before coming out of anesthesia and slowly ceasing the Suboxone via a slow taper.

The process can take between 12 and 24 hours or up to 48 in some instances, and when the patient wakes he or she will have essentially bypassed the discomfort that’s typically associated with detoxification and withdrawal and the detox process itself condensed into one to two days from a week or more.

doctor checking man's heart rate

What Are the Benefits of Rapid Detox?

The most obvious perk of rapid detox is that it allows a person to go through the detoxification significantly faster than a traditional detox program while affording them the opportunity to bypass any pain or discomfort one might otherwise expect. In effect, rapid detox is advertised as a process through which addicts are put under anesthesia and way up no longer physically dependent just 24 hours later. This would obviously appeal to many people, especially since one of the most common reasons that people object to recovery is due to fear of withdrawal and aversion to the detox process in general.

Bottom Line: Faster Doesn’t Mean Better

Although rapid detox would, by all appearances, seem to be a preferable and faster alternative to traditional detox, it’s not without its drawbacks. There have been a number of studies on the efficacy of rapid detox treatment and according to the evidence, people who receive rapid detox treatment don’t exhibit higher rates of success in recovery than those who receive traditional, medical detox treatment.

Additionally, there have been a number of incidents that have resulted in several deaths and numerous more near-deaths, which had been investigated and reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As such, while rapid detox presents an alternative to traditional detox, its questionable safety — not to mention the extremely high expense, frequently tens of thousands of dollars — will prevent it from becoming the standard for detoxification. Even though it’s faster, it doesn’t offer a better chance at recovery, and in fact actually puts a person in much more risk than he or she would otherwise be.

Call the Palm Beach Institute so We Can Help Plan Your Recovery

The best way to detox is to be medically supervised at a certified detox facility. If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation with our recovery specialists, call the Palm Beach Institute at 855-534-3574. We’re available anytime, day and night, to help you or your loved one take the first steps on the journey to lasting health, happiness, and fulfillment.



Staff Writer

The Palm Beach Institute employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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  • There is no miracle cure and there is no one exact treatment for all people. There is a good assessment that can be made so the proper treatment method is applied.
    If someone is selling a overnight cure you should run..If someone is offering a medical detoxification, in a real medical facility , where you will be for a few days in order to be fully complete detox , then you should consider.
    Rapid detox like all medical procedures is effective when done responsibly and as rapid as it can be. There is no overnight miracles because that is not the way out bodies work.

    1. I just went thru dr George’s detox in Detroit, MI. I got there tuesday afternoon, had the treatment around 4, woke up sometime earlier that next morning and was driven to the hotel room. Slept and relaxed most of that day. The second day was much like a good alcohol hangover. I left Thursday (feeling a lesser hangover) morning and drove myself 4 hours home. I am hoping Friday is close to normal for me.

    1. Frank,

      Rapid detoxes can be effective for opiates; however, rapid detoxes for alcohol is almost never effective and can be fatal.

  • Is rapid detox safe? I learned the hard way that like any other medical treatment it could be great or really bad and dangerous. Having a family member with some not so serious health problems, I opted to save money and proceed with a rapid detox center in a operating room. What a mistake…

    The rapid detox was not what we expected and my wife caring for an overly sedated and nauseated patient was simply wrong in all levels. I actually hired a outside doctor to remediate a dangerous situation and brought my step son to the Waismann raps detox in California .

    For those who think is the same treatment, let me tell you, IS NOT! As I learned from real professionals at the Waismann clinic, once they push the opiates out is when the body starts the real work. If that period is not properly assisted, the patient becomes at risk.

    My coclusion is rapid detox works and is safe, when the medical care and inpatient treatment is allowed to be performed in the right time, the right facilities and with real care and responsibility for somenes life.

  • I fully agree with Joseph. My son went through rapid detox 4 years ago and he is doing great. He was at the waismann clinic in California and it was more than we expected. Two of his friends went to othe Rapid detox centers and did not receive the level of care my son did. Actually one of the boys was so sick he immediately started to use again. He just could not seem to get well.

    I believe that you cannot cut corners for a medical procedure like this, especially when these kids have abused their body’s to such an extent. Rapid detox works, but it needs to be done right.

  • Whoever wrote this article is not well informed of Rapid Detox. #1 the procedure has not used general anesthesia for over a dozen years. It uses sedation. #2 it usually lasts approximately an hour may be a bit longer. #3 Waismann Method was named after C. Waismann a drug counselor in the US that gathered the best medical techniques with the best recovery protocols. # 3 This process started in the late 70s by Dr. Kebler, Dr. Loimer, Suboxone should never be prescribed after rapid detox and so on and so on….

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