Painkiller Addicts Need Longer Detox Periods

Painkiller addict waiting.

New research indicates irrefutable evidence of what many addiction experts have been concerned about for some time. When opioid addicts go to rehab for treatment, the vast majority of the time they are not getting detoxification services that are long enough to ensure an effective detoxification off of those substances.

According to a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, current detoxification standards in regards to the length of treatment offered does not afford recovering addicts with enough time to properly ween down off of the opioids in their systems. When a recovering addict is not given enough time to come down off of opioids, they will leave a detox program still feeling the effects of those opioid chemicals, and they are likely to relapse.

Research Data Indicates Time as a Key Factor in Opioid Detox

The study that proved recovering addicts need more time in detox was performed by the University of Vermont. The research project examined seventy people, all of whom were undergoing detoxification for opioid addiction at various centers.

The study was very simple and painstakingly clear. Of the seventy recovering addicts monitored, the individuals who participated in a four-week detoxification program had far greater chances of success and less recidivism than recovering addicts who took part in a one to two-week detoxification program.

This study was published as an introductory model, a suggestion that far more intimate research should be done. According to study author Stacey Sigmon:

“Additional controlled studies are needed to better understand the parameters of efficacious treatments for [prescription opioid] dependence, as well as to identify the individuals for whom brief vs. longer-term treatments are warranted.”

But even just this brief glimpse from a seventy-person study is indicative enough that:

Longer time spent receiving treatment = a more effective and lasting recovery.

Longer time spent receiving treatment = a more effective and lasting recovery.

Also: More time spent in detoxification and purification of harmful drug chemicals from the body = fewer cravings and temptations for opioids post-detoxification.

We want recovering addicts to have the best shot they can get at a lifetime of sobriety. So wouldn’t it make sense then to extend the time of the average detoxification program? Wouldn’t it make sense to give recovering addicts more time in their detoxification and recovery process?

Long-Term Detox and Rehab Offer the Best Results

Rehab calendar

Many have suspected for years now that one of the greatest mistakes most treatment centers make is in not letting recovering addicts stay long enough to fully resolve their issues. Most centers only offer a five-day detox and a three and a half week residential program, and that just isn’t enough time to fully recover a person from the many facets of a substance abuse problem.

When we look at this from a logical perspective, it certainly makes sense. If a person has been abusing drugs for an extensive period of time, years even, how could a rehab program that only affords them services for a few weeks possibly hope to accomplish a stabilizing result? Drug rehab programs and detox centers that offer months of inpatient care are able to turn over every rock and examine a drug problem from every angle.

A detox program that presents several weeks of inpatient services and thorough care will serve to fully purify a recovering addict’s body from every trace element of opioids. Once a recovering addict no longer has cravings or withdrawal symptoms as a result of a thorough detoxification period, they will be able to go on to the actual rehabilitation side of a treatment program and begin working on the personal, spiritual, and psychological aspects of addiction recovery.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.