There are a couple of choices when it comes to opiate detox for anyone who is struggling with opiate dependence, whether that be prescription painkillers or heroin. If you are thinking about trying to get clean from drugs then it might be good to know your options.
Since you are here reading this we are going to assume that cold turkey is not even an option for you. Although it is perfectly possible for anyone to detox from opiates this way (it is not generally life threatening to do so), the level of discomfort is so incredibly high as to make this a non-option. Very, very few people would find success with this method of detox.
Find a local treatment center
One of the best options for most people is going to be to find a local treatment center. Call them up, figure out the funding situation (how you can pay for it), and get checked in. If you do not have insurance, most treatment centers take Medicaid, and failing that, some of them can get you hooked up with assistance through the government to help pay for it. Either way, if you can secure funding for local treatment this is generally going to be the best option for you.
If you can get into a local drug rehab then they will generally detox you from the opiates in about 3 to 7 days using prescription medication to manage your withdrawal symptoms. They can generally provide a decent level of comfort for you so that you are not sick as a dog while detoxing from the drugs. They can help manage your withdrawal symptoms regardless of what type of opiates you were using, be that prescription pain pills or heroin.
In addition to this, going to drug rehab provides the essential second step as well if you attend residential treatment: not only do they detox you, but they will also start teaching you how to live a clean and sober life, and how to get support from others so that you can maintain your new found sobriety. If you simply detox from opiates then you still have a problem: psychological dependence on the drug. In order to overcome this dependency you need to do more for your recovery.
Rapid detox and ultra rapid detox
There are a couple of fairly new procedures out there known as “rapid detox” and also “ultra rapid detox.” There are actually two separate things here, as rapid detox might refer to a 3 to 5 day detox process that is managed with medications, while ultra rapid detox generally refers to a process where the addict is under anesthetic for the duration.
This is an appealing idea for many addicts, to be put under general anesthetic and be completely or almost completely detoxed while they are “sleeping.” However, there are some problems with ultra rapid detox, and it is certainly not a magic bullet.
1) You might still have withdrawal symptoms when you wake up with ultra rapid detox.
2) It is generally more expensive than other forms of treatment.
3) It is potentially dangerous and quite risky to stay under general anesthetic for such long periods of time (up to 24 hours). Some patients have died during the procedure.
4) There is no guarantee against relapse; addicts still need to put in a great deal of effort to remain drug free.
Drug therapy – avoiding detox altogether
One final option would be to get put on some sort of drug therapy for opiate dependence, such as methadone or suboxone maintenance therapy. These are not really detox options because in effect you will not be detoxing from opiates, you will merely be switching to a different opiate drug and then taking it on a regular basis.
There are definitely pros and cons to drug therapy. It is an appealing option for a lot of addicts because it allows them to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal altogether. On the other hand, you are really creating another dependency by going this route. However, if this can keep you off your drug of choice and allow you to start experiencing real recovery, then it might be worth it. Just realize that drug therapy is not a magic bullet by any means, and many people who go this route end up back on their drug of choice eventually.
My opinion should be pretty clear in all this: try to get into a local treatment center if you can secure funding for it or somehow afford it. I believe that is the best option for most people in attempting to overcome their opiate addiction.