Is controversial addiction therapy safe?

There’s an interesting and somewhat disturbing story about how one particular doctor claims to have learned how to treat addiction by using a controversial procedure. The doctor also claims that the procedure can be used in helping individuals that have suffered concussions and head trauma. Former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar has even attested to the success of this doctor’s treatment known as “rapid detox” for ridding him of headaches, insomnia and slurred speech.

The addiction treatment in question involves the administration of anesthesia upon the patient, and then giving the patient drugs that were usually meant to treat withdrawal. It is also said that this doctor tells his patients Bible stories and will pray for “supernatural wisdom” before conducting treatments.

Whether the treatment is appropriate for the treating of addiction (let alone brain trauma) is still being debated. This same doctor has been sued for medical malpractice in the past, and physicians appear to be of the opinion that this addiction therapy requires more study before being recommended to anyone.

The practice has been described as dangerous, and it is a practice described by one doctor as being anything but standard. In fact, though the treatment provides the illusion that the discomfort from withdrawal can be removed, the side effects of the treatment can be quite deadly.

One of the drugs used in the therapy called Propofol was implicated in the death of pop star, Michael Jackson. And in one of the medical malpractice lawsuits filed against the doctor pertaining to this treatment, a patient alleged brain damage that came about as the result of the treatment.

When doctors depart from accepted care, injuries that come about due to the treatment are ripe for these sorts of lawsuits. Medical malpractice attorneys will help injured clients bring these claims to impart a sense of humility in doctors who promise quick cures for complicated medical issues.

Even the best of doctors do not fully understand how the brain operates. And though the above doctor has treated patients in addiction for close to ten years, he is not a certified neurologist. The testimonials of professional athletes or other celebrities are not as convincing as education or medical training.

Source: The Plain Dealer, “Bernie Kosar’s doctor Rick Sponaugle uses knowledge of addiction to treat brain,” by Sarah Jane Tribble, Feb. 9, 2013