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Rapid Opiate Detox: Fact or Fallacy


Once I had recognized that my opiate use had escalated to the point of dependence, both physically and psychologically, I began to fantasize about the different angles of approach I could take in putting my problem at bay. My issue was that I didn’t have the willingness to do anything about it. The more conventional methods I looked into; inpatient/outpatient rehab, therapy, a hospitalized detox, cold-turkey at home detox, and buprenorphine and methadone tapers, were all time consuming and required the endurance of withdrawal symptoms. Being the addict I am, I needed instant results. I couldn’t manage waiting this one out. Withdrawal had always been the one thing that kept me from maintaining any significant period of abstinence (although, now that I look back, there were other factors that had played a role in my inability to remain clean). After a more thorough inquiry in regards to my options, (after all, what else was I going to do to kill time while I waited for my dealer to call me back?) I discovered two new methods which I hadn’t yet heard of: Ultra Rapid Opiate Detox (UROD) and Ibogaine.

Ibogaine, derived from the Iboga plant indigenous to West Africa, is a psychedelic drug which has dissociative properties. Those who claim it to be successful in relieving the craving and desire to use attribute such behavior to intense “spiritual” experiences they have undergone amidst the 36 hour treatment process. In all reality, it comes down to the fact that Ibogaine acts as a Kappa opioid receptor agonist. Agonist, you say. Wouldn’t that infer that one would achieve an opiate high if it was an agonist? Well, rest assured, there’s a funny thing about kappa agonists: they have a dysphoric effect on the brain and body. (Land et al, 2008) There was a very informative success story in respects to Ibogaine treatment. It was documented by a British man by the name of David Graham Scott titled “Detox or Die”. He was a film junkie and heroin addict who alternated between active using and methadone maintenance for over twenty years. Finally fed up with his lifestyle, he decided to seek out Ibogaine treatment. Since undergoing the treatment, he remains clean and sober to this day. The flip-side to the card is this: there have been multiple reported cases of death related to the use of this drug. Is it really worth it to put your entire life on the line for a rather unorthodox, unregulated treatment? It was for Mr. Scott. I strongly suggest watching the film, then decide for yourself.

The other detox method I considered was UROD – Ultra Rapid Opiate Detox. The procedure entails administering general anesthesia to the patient, then injecting the given subject with Naltrexone (Vivitrol): an opiate antagonist. This precipitates withdrawal while the patient is unconscious, allowing for the painful, intolerable aspects of the withdrawal process to pass acutely, while sound asleep. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s because it is.  The threat of perish is great in going through this process. As well, I have heard many first-hand horror stories recounted by friends. Many of them make claims to worsened states of well-being as a result of this procedure. “My withdrawal symptoms were tenfold for days after receiving UROD. Worst of all, I had a subcutaneous Naltrexone implant I had to rip out so I could get rid of the withdrawal pain (get high). I could have saved $20,000 if I sat at home and kicked on my own. It would have been much more subtle and bearable, but I certainly don’t have the self-discipline to do that,” one of my friends disclosed to me one day.

The way I see it, dangerous or not, questionable or not, assuming these methods did remove the painful withdrawal symptoms, I can guarantee these measures on their own don’t prove as sufficient methods of abstinence from drugs. The dynamics of an addiction encompass so much more than simply an intolerable detoxification. There are all sorts of behavioral, relational, cognitive, and psychosocial issues that make up a drug addiction. Does either of these methods address even one of the aforementioned matters? I didn’t think so. I am so glad I went to an incredible inpatient rehab and did a cold turkey detox. I feel like I have grasped a much clearer understanding of the reasons I act the way I do, and what the appropriate measures I need to take in order to work these issues out…..all thanks to treatment.






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Filed under: Alcohol and Drugs, Featured · Tags: addict, Addiction, agonist, clean and sober, detox, detox methods, detoxification, drug and alcohol treatment, home detox, Ibogaine treatment, Kappa opioid receptor agonist, naltrexone, opiate abuse, opioid receptor, quit cold turkey, rehab, Ultra Rapid Opiate Detox (UROD), UROD, Vivitrol, withdrawal symptoms

  • http://MyCoachJason.com/ Jason Wittman

    Thank you for a great article. I have always maintained that the emphasis on dealing with the physical parts of addiction has been a set-up for short term abstinence. When AA started, many moons ago, the only framework they had was a medical model which needs to subscribe a bug of some sort as a cause of all aliments. The most convenient bug when it came to alcoholism and addictions is the drug of choice that the addicted person was using, hence the “allergy to…” notion. I maintain that that drug of choice (or action of choice, in the case of non-substance addictions) is nothing more than a futile attempt to deal with the pain caused by a set of feelings and situations by people whose tool box of coping skills does not include any other remedies. The drug or action of choice is nothing more than another symptom, not the cause of the addiction.

    So what is the cause. From over 35 years of work in this field (and on me), I believe that the central cause for all addictions is thinking and acting like a loser. Notice I said thinking and acting like and not being a loser. In 12 step program sharing, people talk around this when they refer to how their drug or action of choice “filled that empty hole inside.” Putting a description on that empty hole usually boil down to negative or no feeling of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence. Only time and being in a very positive environment will change those feelings.

    With this as a basis of my thinking, it is quite apparent why quick cures are destined to failure. They only deal with the most blatant symptom of addiction, the drug or action of choice. From my grad school course in psycho-pharmacology, I seem to remember that there are very few drugs that still have any physical effects on the body after a very short amount of time. But to overcome the habit of negative loser thinking and acting takes doing a new skill set of behaviors over a long enough period of time for the inner mind to understand that that is the new normal. As a hypnotherapist, we say that the only way to permanently get rid of a habit is to do another one more.

    Having come from a background of totally abstinence residential therapeutic communities (think third generation from Synonon) it has taken me a long time to evolve into seeing the gray areas of recovery. For many folks, especially meth addicts, going from total usage to total clear head having to deal with every feeling is way to much of a culture shock and they quickly self-medicate to ease the psychic pain by using again. Dr. Drew, who ran Las Encinas Hospital chemical dependency program, once told me that they get the best results when they temporarily include, with a huge emphasis on temporarily, some sort of anti-depressant in the initial phases of the recovery process along with a 12 step program and counseling and coaching around building internal good feelings. My recent experience with both clients and a close family member who ended a meth addiction was that this it the most successful treatment course.

    One last note: My suggestion to anyone who wants to stop smoking cigarettes and is about to use the patches is that patches will only work if there is absolutely zero use of cigarettes for the full three months of patches. Why? The actual physical addiction can be finished in two weeks of abstinence with out the patches. What the patches do is to buy time away from the physical act of smoking for a long enough period for the inner mind to get that the new habit is to just breathe air directly from the air instead of through a tube. If the person sneaks a smoke during that three months, the inner mind “Oh, I guess we are back to the old program!” and the three months of new habit training starts again.

    Jason Wittman, MPS

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