Rapid Detox: The Good, the Bad & the Deadly

August 9, 2022

5 mins

Dane O'Leary


The prospect of condensing detox down to a single day is appealing, but is it safe? And is it the right choice for your recovery? Here's everything you should know about one-day detoxes.

For those struggling with addiction, the one-day detox, also known as rapid detoxing, promises to put individuals on the fast track to recovery. The prospect of rapid detox is certainly appealing, especially when withdrawal is a challenging and potentially life-threatening obstacle in its own right. But on the other hand, a one-day detox is likewise considered to be a dangerous process.

So how do you know if a one-day detox is right for you? Is a rapid detox even safe? Here's what you should know about one-day detoxing.

What is a One-Day Detox?

One day detox is a process that combines medication and sedation to offer a quick and painless withdrawal process. In addition, one day detox programs provide quick and effortless recovery in a controlled environment, allowing for real-time treatment methods and techniques.

It works like this: The patient is brought into a clinical care center and put under anesthesia. Once the patient is under, the provider administers an opioid antagonist like Naltrexone (which is most well-known as the drug used to reverse an opioid overdose), which prompts the body to instantly purge opioid substances from the system. The idea is that performing an opioid detox in this way allows the patient to "skip" the unpleasantries of the more traditional detox model. The actual detox process, from when the patient is put under to when he or she wakes, takes four to six hours.

Of course, there are always professionals and providers researching ways to condense the detox process. More recently, a variation of the one-day detox called "advanced rapid detox" promises to condense the traditional week-long detox process into a more brisk three days.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When the body is dependent on alcohol, drugs, or other substances, the absence of these substances in the body will typically cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can become severe, particularly when the individual suffers from long-term addiction. As a result, withdrawal becomes a top incentive to continue abusing alcohol or drugs.

If left to progress naturally, withdrawal normally lasts about a week, give or take, although some substances need up to 10 days to be detoxed. A severe withdrawal process can make it difficult for those experiencing addiction to cease substance abuse. Without medical supervision, the withdrawal process can even be fatal due to some combination of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms
  • Tremors
  • High fever
  • Racing pulse
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Headache

On the surface, one day detox seems like an appealing and effective way to bypass an otherwise unpleasant process. Some one day detox treatment centers offer immediate relief from withdrawals and addiction. Though these claims are not entirely untrue, they can be misleading and, in some cases, unfair.

Are One-Day Detoxes Dangerous?

Rapid detox was developed in the 1990s and has not yet become a widely accepted form of treatment. While it has been refined in the years since it was introduced, one-day detoxes continue to be a rather controversial form of care.

The discomfort of withdrawal becomes a major deterrent of relapse.

The reason one-day detoxing is controversial is that it's much more dangerous than conventional detox programs. Sure, most rapid detox centers report to be safe, controlled environments, but with the techniques and tools available currently, the reality is that it's simply not yet possible to mitigate all of the dangers associated with rapid detox.

Dangers of a One-Day Detox

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Aspiration and choking
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Infection
  • Coma
  • Death
  • Relapse

There are two particular risks that we want to focus on: death and relapse.

The thing to remember is that one-day detoxes aren't a way to escape the unpleasantness of the detox process. Rather, you're essentially taking the unpleasantness that occurs over a traditional week-long detox and concentrating it so that it comes and goes in just a matter of hours. And because of the anesthesia, the patient never has to actually experience the discomforts associated with withdrawal. But as you might imagine, this is very hard on the body, which is how rapid detox can potentially result in death.

Additionally, the discomfort of the withdrawal period that occurs during detoxification becomes a major deterrent of relapse. But if rapid detox means you can alternate between sobriety and full-blown addiction in less than a single day, then is there much incentive to stay sober in the first place?

Similarly, some take issue with the fact that one-day detoxes make it seem like you can overcome addiction in a single day when that's not even the case with rapid detox. There's no instant cure to addiction, which is why most individuals who experience success in recovery have completed intensive treatment programs, many of which are inpatient and last for far longer than a single day. Addressing the physical and physiological aspects of addiction is really just the first step on the road to recovery and the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

How to Choose a One-Day Detox Center

Because rapid detox is potentially fatal, this is most certainly an enter-at-your-own-risk situation. In any case, anyone considering a one-day detox needs to know how to choose a facility that is fully equipped and experienced at performing this type of detox. To maximize the likelihood of your success, let's go over some of the specific factors to consider when choosing your one-day detox facility.

Physician Credentials

The attending physician should be board-certified with a positive reputation. Their knowledge and expertise should meet your requirements. The physician must be able to exhibit a thorough knowledge and understanding of procedure and safety and leave you feeling confident in your choice,

Reputable Facility

The facility should be accredited and also have a positive reputation. Look at facility reviews, affiliations, and ask for referrals. Referrals can come from other medical professionals or friends and family.

Safe, Comfortable Environment

The facility should be conducive to a safe recovery. Patients should receive their own room that provides safety and comfort.

Post-Detox Services

The facility should assist you with a comprehensive post-detox recovery plan. In many cases, this means arranging the next steps of the individual's recovery, often an inpatient or residential-style treatment program. It can also include medication referrals, therapy programs, and professional care.

The dangers of rapid detox can be severe, even fatal (although fatalities from one-day detoxes have, fortunately, been rare). Conducting ample research into your care so you can find the right facility is how you achieve the best possible outcome.

Safe Detox is Crucial for Your Recovery

The withdrawal process can be terrifying and overwhelming. Withdrawal may seem like a frightening obstacle between you and your sobriety. When considering options for treatment, it is vital to explore and research all options. One-day detoxes are a tempting process to overcome the withdrawal obstacle quickly and painlessly, though the risks are incredibly high.

When it comes to recovery, there is no substitute for a well-managed withdrawal process provided by a well-trained and professional medical team that can make all the difference on your path to recovery.

At Never Alone Recovery, rehabs are seen as a channel through which individuals can regain their health and independence. If you or someone you love is ready to stop using alcohol or drugs, then call us today for a free consultation and assessment. Also, be sure to come interact with us on social media where we host frequent livestreams and weekly online support group meetings.

We're On Medium!

We're sharing the recovery stories of our community members. Be sure to check out Never Alone Recovery on Medium to read those featured stories.



Get Your Free Consultation Now

No matter where you are or what you're going through, send us a secure message and someone from our team will get back to you.

Check Out Our eBook
Surviving Your Loved One's Addiction


$19.95 Value
Inside spread with pullquote