Rapid Detox Promises to Cure Opiate Addicts in 36 Hours
Treatment developed by Brazilian doctor removes the body's addiction without withdrawal symptoms
When the doctor and Brazilian native, Andre Waismann, 54, arrived in Israel in 1982, the country was fighting against Lebanon. Drafted by the Army, he noticed that the wounded soldiers, after being treated, became addicted to painkillers. Ten years later, he developed a rapid detox treatment, based on naltrexone, which promises to cure opiate addiction in 36 hours and suppress cravings.
Why opiate detox is so difficult?
For many years, drug addiction has been attributed to psychosocial issues, but the craving for the drug is in the brain. The human body produces endorphins, which regulates a number of functions in the body and makes us feel good; it is our high natural. Just micrograms per day is enough. But when a doctor prescribes milligrams of morphine to a patient with pain or when someone indulges in grams of heroin daily, a process happens by which the body’s natural production of endorphins is eliminated, and dependency is created. The person is now depending on opiates (substances derived from opium such as heroin, methadone and codeine-based painkillers, morphine and thebaine) externally to be satisfied.
And one can not have the willpower to stop?
If a person has will power to an extreme, they can overcome addiction through abstinence. But in treating heroin, for example, the crisis period may last for two weeks. In the case of methadone, a synthetic substance, the crisis period lasts about one month. Many people do not seek help because treatment is difficult, painful, with vomiting, and diarrhea. Many who try to detoxify fail to pass the crisis abstinence. Or, when they pass, turn right back to addiction.
Our brain has specific opioid receptors that control endorphin production. When the person is producing naturally, the amount is correct based on the body’s needs. But if we shall introduce milligrams or grams of opiates to the brain, this produces new receivers that don’t disappear, even after detoxification. It is these receptors that cause the most anxiety, and mental hunger to use the drug, which is nothing more than a psychological manifestation of a medical problem.
What is the difference of treatment that you developed?
My treatment is based on medical root dependence, not psychological. The goal is to restore the production of endorphins to good levels in less than two days rather than two weeks. Additionally, we aim to block extra receivers that were created in the brain with months or years of addiction. Thus, we restore a normal relationship between receptors and endorphins, and can change the psychological status of the patient. It is effective, humane, fast and affordable.
How long the patient has to stay in hospital?
The hospitalization lasts 36 hours. During this period the patient is under general anesthesia for about four hours. It is at this point that I minister naltrexone, which antagonizes opiate, cleanses the body and blocks the receptors that are no longer needed. The patient does not feel the withdrawal symptoms. When he wakes up, is already clean.
Is not very invasive and drastic?
I’ve gone through several waves of attacks, usually social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. The basis of their work is not medicine, so they know exactly what they are criticizing. At the beginning, I faced heated discussions in various places of the world. But today, I run an extremely important department of a public hospital in Israel (the Center for ANR’s Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon in the south of the country, which has treated over 18,000 addicts around the world, including celebrities, politicians, and they say, an Arab king), I have nothing to prove to anyone.
In the United States his technique is considered controversial and dangerous …
My job was much publicized because I treated many famous people. I open clinics and started teaching my method. But there was a problem: some doctors began to mimic me, using techniques I had already abandoned. Today, I only work in Israel and teach in European clinics.
What percentage of treatments are successful?
All inpatients are discharged without dependence. They are clean and free of anxiety. A year or two later, between 75% and 80% remain without any opioid dependence. It’s a high percentage.
Do you want to open a clinic in Brazil?
No, but I am very interested in collaborating with academic institutions in Brazil, teaching medical treatment for Brazilians.
Has the number of opiate addicts in Brazil increased?
Yes, more so even in the last decade. Especially among ordinary people with chronic pain. Today, 65% of my patients are dependent on painkillers.
A little over 10 years ago, the pain was recognized as a disease. The result of this classification was the opening of clinics and special wards. In these places, patients with chronic pain receive opioid-based analgesics that they really benefited from. So they were now without pain, and they improved psychologically, but then became addicted to drugs and needed increasingly larger doses.