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Rapid detox method may put patients at risk

When former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar began experiencing symptoms of neurological damage including headaches, slurred speech and nausea from his 12 years playing professional football, he turned to the internet to research people who could help him. Kosar's Twitter feed had been showing a slow descent into mental incapacity and he had a completely dissociative episode while a guest on a radio talk show on December 5, 2012. A few days after the radio appearance, Kosar was in the office of a doctor who claimed that a rapid detox method designed to help alcoholics and drug addicts with the pain of withdrawal could help Kosar's neurological problems. When Kosar announced in the press that the treatment cured him, the detox method received national attention as a potential treatment for brain injuries. However, people should be aware of what happens in the procedure and the dangers associated with it.

Designed to help addicts with withdrawal

Doctors designed Rapid Opiate Detoxification as a means to help drug addicts and alcoholics deal with the pain that accompanies withdrawal from drugs. The patient receives sedatives and medications that block receptors in the brain associated with the drug the patient abused. At the same time, the patient receives medication that quickens the patient's response to the withdrawal of drugs from the patient's system.

Methods of ROD vary. Some take four to six hours, while others can last from 12 to 48 hours. The patient should emerge from the experience without remembering having gone through withdrawal, according to proponents.

Some claim that ROD not only makes withdrawal pain-free for those trying to beat drug addiction, it actually helps people shake drug addictions. Some, like Kosar's doctor, argue that doctors should explore the potential ROD has for treating traumatic brain injuries.

Dangers of rapid detox

Many medical professionals warn that ROD is too good to be true, and that it poses significant dangers to people who undergo the process. Even though the process began in the 1980s, many experts still consider ROD to be experimental. About a dozen deaths have stemmed from patients receiving ROD. A study printed in the Journal of American Medicine in 2005 monitored 100 patients seeking the ROD process. The study showed that of those patients, one person's lungs filed with fluid, one had a bi-polar episode with both manic and depressive elements and a third experienced diabetic ketoacidosis.

Evidence suggests that the rewards of ROD are not worth the risks. Studies show that ROD does not reduce the likelihood of relapse in patients who receive it compared with those who detox in the traditional manner.

Consult an attorney

Those who struggle with addiction and those dealing with the difficulties of traumatic brain injury may be desperate for cures. Doctors have a responsibility to present options to patients that will help them and to explain any dangers that the procedures present. If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of a ROD procedure, speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can advise you about your options for recovery.

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