5-Day Rapid Drug Detox – Do They Really Work Long-Term?

If you or a loved one have an addiction to drugs you may well have seen and considered undergoing a 5-day rapid drug detox. These are commonly advertised on the web.

Quick drug detoxes are being increasingly advertised all over the internet. They may seem an immediate solution to stopping drugs. So, in this blog, we’re going to look at the reality of 5-day rapid drug detoxes. What do they involve and what are the pitfalls are to consider.

High Success Rate?

Often, rapid drug detoxes are advertised as having a very high success rate. We are not disputing that they do – in terms of helping drug misusers stop using, help with withdrawals and clean their system. When you think about it, 5 days of quickly withdrawing from drugs with the assistance of some heavy duty medications to ease the pain and dangers of withdrawal, and (in some clinics) nurses to see to your every medical need. Most heroin, opiate and benzodiazepine addicts who are looking to get clean would jump at the chance to detox comfortably clean within such a short space of time.

So, that’s a good thing right? Yes, of course it. As one of the UK’s premier drug and alcohol clinics, we would always agree with that.

However, the reality and fast completion rate of these rapid detoxes – and here’s the ugly truth – means they do not factor in the long-term picture of staying clean, with many addicts relapsing almost immediately. As a clinic, we see and hear this often from people looking for help after attending such detoxes at other clinics. If “success” in overcoming drug addiction is based on long-term outcomes, the demand for 5-day rapid drug detoxes would be very different. In fact, we would argue that the demand would be almost non-existent – if individuals seeking addiction help were in possession of the full facts of their illness before signing up for a rapid 5-day detox.

Quick, Cheap, 5-Day Rapid Drug Detox

The cost of rapid detoxes often appears very cheap. It is in comparison to a recommended detox. However, the latter will be a tailored, individual rehabilitation programme. So you can pay a fraction of the money but at what cost?

If you are looking for a rapid detox, please ensure that the detox clinic you are considering meets the following criteria:

  • They are Care Quality Commission (CQC) registered and regulated
  • The detox is monitored 24/7 by qualified nursing and medically trained staff
  • It is prescribed by a qualified doctor or consultant psychiatrist
  • The clinic offers a full rehabilitation programme in conjunction with the detox
  • There is a comprehensive aftercare programme available
  • The detox clinic is experienced in detoxing individuals from all manner of illegal drugs, prescription drugs, legal highs and alcohol
  • They are experienced in treating those that are taking medications for health conditions and also mental health illnesses
  • There are no hidden costs that will be added

Detox Is Not The Solution To Drug Addiction

If you are physically dependent on drugs of any kind it is important to realise that drug addiction is far more complex than just having a physical need for drugs.

Addiction is medically recognised as a chronic and progressive disease of the brain by medical institutions around the world, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institution on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Treating drug addiction successfully requires so much more than just safely removing the drugs in one’s system through detoxing. All a detox essentially achieves is a reset button on the body. So here’s the issue; and what keeps people in addiction: with the same mindset an addict or alcoholic will use again at some point. Without professional psychological treatment to change that mindset it is even more likely. A full recovery programme is much more likely to help you to successfully quit.

The long-term prognosis for those that undergo a 5-day rapid drug detox without any further help is very poor. Some will relapse the same day they leave the clinic. Others will stay clean for a month or two. Very few – if any – will achieve a year or more of complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Evidence-based Treatments

Addiction is an illness that resides in the brain. It is caused by repeated exposure to alcohol or drugs. Over time the brain undergoes substantial changes in order to adapt. These changes create both a physical dependence and a mental compulsion to use and drink. This is despite the mounting negative consequences.

Even once the drugs have been removed safely through a prescribed medical detox the compulsion to use still remains. This is because the state of the brain remains the unchanged even when the drugs have been stopped. Overtime and with total abstinence the brain will repair itself to an extent, depending on the damage done. However, certain thought processes, beliefs and unmanageable emotions will remain. It is these beliefs and thought processes that takes an individual back to using drugs.

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (alcohol is a drug!) summarises this wonderfully in two paragraphs:

“We know that while the alcoholic [addict] keeps away from drink [drugs], as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol [drugs] whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop. The experience of any alcoholic [addict] will abundantly confirm this.
“These observations would be academic and point­ less if our friend never took the first drink [drug], thereby setting the terrible cycle in motion. Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic [addict] centers in his mind, rather than in his body. If you ask him why he started on that last bender, the chances are he will offer you any one of a hundred alibis.”
Alcoholics Anonymous Page 22/23.

Long term abstinence is the aim

In order to fully recover from drug addiction a profound change in thinking is essential. Achieving long-term abstinence and a happy and productive life is possible. This is where evidence-based addiction treatment methods are needed to treat the psychological component of addiction (the main driving force of the illness).

Rapid detox programmes do not include evidence based treatments, they are merely a medical process of detoxification. The fact that the detox is completed quickly means that the brain has even less time to adjust to being drug free.  With no alternative healthy coping strategies in place, the likelihood of using within a short space of time is almost inevitable.

Comprehensive Drug Detox and Rehabilitation

At the best drug and alcohol rehab clinics, such as our clinic, The Lighthouse by Step By Step Recovery in London & Essex, we do not cut corners. We regularly treat patients who have undergone a rapid detox and have consequently relapsed. What they thought at the time was saving them time and money ends up costing them far more. In addition to causing more damage, more pain and more harm. They come to us in a worse state than ever before due to the progressive nature of addiction.

For any client that walks through our doors, they are provided with a comprehensive assessment by our Consultant Psychiatrist, a full medical drug detox supervised 24/7 by trained staff, and an individualised rehabilitation programme designed to bring about the essential change in thinking and perspective required for long-term recovery.

All of our addiction treatments are personalised and specific. They are delivered by a multidisciplinary team of professional counsellors and therapists. Most of these people are in recovery from addiction themselves.

If you want to know any further information on the treatment required to overcome drug addiction successfully, please call and speak to a member of our therapy team.

Reference and sources

Professionals therapist

A page revised the 6 of July of 2021, by Danielle Byatt, a Level 4 addictions counselling, Level 5 in Leadership & Management, BA applied social work. and Treatment Director at Step by Step Recovery.