PONTIAC, Mich. (WXYZ) — Oakland County’s oldest hospital is now asking for the state’s blessing over a drug addiction treatment program known as “rapid opioid detox.” Pontiac General Hospital describes it as a leading alternative to lengthier programs, but one expert says additional research is needed to determine effectiveness.
“Currently the American Society of Addiction Medicine does not endorse the use of of ultra rapid detox services” says Dr. David Yanga III, Chief Medical Officer for the Ascension Brighton Center For Recovery.
Director of Patient Services at Advanced Rapid Detox Laura Solomon says in a posted to their website, “Our program is really great. You go thru all your withdrawals while you’re sleeping. You really aren’t going to remember a thing.”
However, her program is housed within a building we’ve previously exposed for maintenance problems, federal lawsuits and doctors who’s licenses were revoked or suspended. Yet, Solomon says the program is completely independent of the hospital.
She adds, they’ve successfully and safely treated hundreds of patients since 2017, under the care of board certified anesthesiologist Dr. Julia Aharonov. “We have at least a 64% rate of success one year later, and the average cost is $8000-$10,000” says Solomon.
Dave Clayton, is a person living in long term recovery and working as an outreach coordinator for Families Against Narcotics. “I struggled with drug addiction and alcoholism for 10 years of my life from 18-28” says Clayton. He recently learned about the program that uses drugs including Naltrexone and Propofol.
Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids, reduces pain, sickness and discomfort. Propofol is a sedative. “If this is such a success, why isn’t everyone else jumping on board with it” says Clayton. The use of sedatives is also a red flag according to Dr. Yanga III, who runs the nation’s second oldest rehab program that’s state licensed.
“We’ve treated hundreds with a long term approach, and often helped patients suffering from multiple addictions. The goal is to make sure the patient is never in distress and is able to communicate” says Dr. Yanga. After being told by a hospital PR agency that no one was available to talk at this time, we got the call from Laura Solomon offering to speak on camera and offer more insight.
“We’re not for everyone. Obviously, not everyone passes thru the screening process. We really do our due diligence to make sure a person is a good candidate physically and emotionally” says Solomon. Beyond that, she points out the program doesn’t use general anesthesia and gives referrals to outpatient centers and support groups.
But, Dr. Yanga III says that only after 5 years of recovery, does someone have an 86% chance of continuing abstinence. “The evidence simply hasn’t been demonstrated to prove the safety and effectiveness of this type of approach” says Dr. Yanga III.
In Dave’s case, the Macomb County Drug Court Program mandated a long term care solution that he now educates others about. He credits his success to “A lot of intensive outpatient therapy sessions, finding a pathway of recovery. Moving into a sober living house, then into a recovery community.”
Dr. Yanga III also warns a patient who relapses could overdose easily, given the absence of any tolerance to the drug after rehab. “If you rapidly stop something, that can put somebody in a risky position. The 30 days after stopping opioids is a dangerous window of time” he says.
Solomon insists the program isn’t a “cure all” or quick fix. “Like legs on a chair. We’re one leg. We get opiates out of their system and get them to not have cravings” says Solomon. She adds follow up calls are made, to make sure patients keep up with necessary Vivitrol shots every 28 days for a year, and unlimited detox related services are available.
“There’s many ways to get clean. We are not the only one but we are a good one” says Solomon.
The program insists their work is life saving. Just one of the reasons so many people come from out of state for the cutting edge treatment.