Dr. Cataldie's Corner

Ultrarapid Opiate Detox – An easier, softer way?

Several people have asked me about this “ultra-rapid” detox process that has been around about 20 years of so and I’ve visited with a few patients who have been through it. Those few I met at Woodlake Detox. The idea is you sleep your way through opiate detox. That’s right, you go into this facility and they put you under general anesthesia – just like you are having surgery. Anesthesia is a medically controlled drug induced coma. While you are in coma for several hours, they inject naltrexone into your blood system. Naltrexone is an opiate blocker. So what it does is to knock all opiates off of your brain’s receptor sites. If you were awake, you would be in full blown “cold turkey” detox. But, since you are in coma, you don’t feel that – at the time. They bring you out of coma and watch you for a couple of days and it’s a done deal. Sounds pretty good doesn’t it. Some might even say it sounds too good. As a matter of fact, the National Institute of Drug Abuse says that. “Although providers advertise anesthesia-assisted detox as a fast and painless method to kick opiate addiction, the evidence does not support those statements.” As a matter of fact the NIDA report goes on to state it is “a costly and risky approach.” At any rate, you wake up and you still have detox signs and symptoms and many of these programs want you to take naltrexone (the opiate blocker) by injection or by mouth. As a rule, I do not start naltrexone for several weeks after detox. Like any other medication, naltrexone has a place in the treatment of drug dependency but it is only a tool and it has its own adverse effects. As with any mediation you take, the good benefits must be greater than the adverse side effects. The NIDA article, which I strongly suggest you or anyone else thinking about ultrarapid detox read is inNIDA Notes, October 01, 2006 “Study Finds Withdrawal No Easier With Ultrarapid Opiate Detox”. The NIDA study reports only 18% of patients completed a 12 week outpatient program and 63% had dirty drug screens. Drug Dependency is a Brain Disease. Woodlake sees addicts as biological-psychological-social-spiritual beings. All areas are adversely impacted by addiction all areas must be addressed in order to achieve sobriety.
In 1978, my counselor at Baton Rouge CDU, told me during one of my analysis paralysis attacks brought on my over intellectualizing that an “easier, softer way” is nothing but quicksand. He was right.
More to ome about Opiate addictions.

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