Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cost For Rapid Detox

It appears easy enough at first glance: a drug-addicted patient sleeps through a controlled infusion of chemicals to achieve a complete system detoxification in around 10 hours. The idea is terrific, particularly since the patient bypasses the horrific side effects experienced by those undergoing standard detox methods. That said, rapid detox comes with a litany of risks. Treatment is considered experimental, so no insurance carrier will pay for the procedure. Those who can afford the tab take serious risks with a less than stellar long-term recovery outlook. To decide whether you should commit thousands of dollars to cover this cutting-edge procedure, look at the whole picture before you agree to the treatment.

The Objective of Rapid Detox

The goal of the rapid (or medical detox) method of withdrawing a patient from opiate dependence offers a number of benefits to the addict. Intensive, controlled and concentrated, rapid detox literally obliterates the psychological effects of opiates to which the drug abuser has become dependent. Contrary to popular belief, an addict doesn't just nap eight hours, dress and head home. For this radical procedure to work, the patient must agree to additional treatment following the detox.

How the Detox Process Works

To flush an addict's system of drugs, the body is introduced to an infusion of opiate antagonists, drugs that cleanse the system and allow the body's opiate receptors to reset themselves. Once the flushing takes place, a patient's tolerance returns to zero, so taking their "regular" fix after the detox exposes the patient to a potential overdose and death. While the cost of the drugs that flush the body during the detox is not huge, the medical facility's cost for administering a typical regimen are hefty and include high liability insurance costs, staff, equipment and monitoring costs.

Who is Eligible for Rapid Detox?

Patients who have tried and failed other types of programs are considered the best candidates for rapid detox. First-time patients have a higher recidivism rate than those who have already experienced a traditional withdrawal. Since insurance isn't a factor in determining who can undergo the process, eligibility often consists of a highly motivated addict, a family willing to pay for the treatment with cash and acknowledgment that rapid detoxification is still considered experimental.

Risks Involved With Rapid Detox v. Traditional Treatments

The single biggest risk to a patient during rapid detox is absorbing and tolerating the general anesthesia that allows the body to sleep during the infusion. To give you an idea of how high this risk can be, compare one death for every 250,000 people receiving general anesthesia for surgery to one death in every 10,000 as a result of rapid detox (D'Ambra study: 1998). In addition to alarming fatality numbers, rapid detox patients regularly suffer serious thyroid problems following treatment. Given these facts, the number of doctors who refuse to sanction it and the cost of liability insurance for facilities and practitioners, this is not a procedure to be considered lightly.

Costs Associated With Rapid Detox

Depending upon how it is structured, rapid detox costs between $4,000 and $6,000 for the initial treatment, as of 2009. Add a course of post-treatment therapy that many doctors require, and the cost skyrockets to between $7,000 and $15,000. It's not unusual for high-risk patients to run up a $20,000 bill. These expenses are tied to the amount and type of drugs the staff administers, the patient's medical history, the facility in which the detox takes place and personnel required to oversee the process. As a point of reference, on average, one rapid detox treatment costs the same as a full month of traditional detox treatment in a private facility. Further, if you compare a rapid detox regimen to a comparable stint of from 6- to 12-months at a methadone clinic, the patient pays from two to three times more for the rapid detox.

Future Considerations

Should rapid detox move from experimental to mainstream, insurance and personnel costs associated with this controversial program should fall dramatically. That eventuality is currently being hampered by lack of validated, reliable testing data normally gathered at clinical trials. Further, the medical community is not entirely convinced that a) the rapid detox method is worth the risk to the patient's life and b) that the elimination of toxic side effects associated with traditional detox programs justify the hefty price tag. For those reasons, expect rapid detox to continue to be made available only to those who can afford to pay for it out of their own pockets.

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