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Rapid Detox Treatment Presents Major Risks

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Lauren Lopez4 years ago

Opioid addiction is presenting itself to be a serious public health concern that is steadily on the rise. The CDC has noticed this trend and has issued public notices about the addiction and related information.  With rates of opioid addiction increasing, so has the need for detoxification. One practice that many out-patient hospitals are using is called Anesthesia-Assisted Rapid Opioid Detoxification, or AAROD.

AAROD Procedure

According to Medpage Today, AAROD is a procedure that involves the administration of antiemetics drugs, such as clonidine, and  antidiarrheal medication that help to reduce the negative side effects of withdrawal and the deliberate induction of withdrawal with high-dose opioid antagonists under a general anesthesia. 

These medications are administered through injection or IV while the anesthesia is given through intubation.  The anesthesia was administered for a median duration of 8.3 hours, and the median time for administration of the opioid antagonist was 3.9 hours.

AAROD Investigation

New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was alerted by the New York City Poison Control Center for reports of adverse effects of the treatment and an investigation was launched on a particular out-patient clinic.
Between January 2012 and September 2012, 75 patients at this clinic underwent the AAROD treatment.

According to Medpage Today regarding the report:

  • Seven patients (9.3%) experienced adverse events that required hospitalization.
  • All were men and the median age was 31.
  • Four had been taking prescription opioids, two had been taking heroin and opioids, and one used heroin exclusively.
  • Two of the affected patients died.
  • In one case, the autopsy indicated cardiomegaly and pulmonary edema; in the other, the autopsy revealed anoxic encephalopathy and coronary atherosclerosis, and “hypokalemia and cardiac arrhythmia following anesthesia-assisted rapid opiate detoxification” was the cause of death.

The CDC Recommends Alternative Procedure

The CDC has issued a recommendation for clinics to utilize an alternative detoxification treatment to AAROD.  They report that medication-assisted treatment with opioid agonists, such as methadone or buprenorphine, is a safer detoxification treatment to getting patients on the road to recovery.

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