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Do not go to a drug or alcohol rehab that advertises saunas as a core component of the addiction treatment or detoxification process.

Many unreputable addiction treatment programs offer treatment that is based on an underlying philosophy of sweating out toxins and drug metabolites through long sauna-sessions, and then replacing what’s perspired with vitamin-heavy liquids.

While this may sound surface-reasonable, there is no reliable research evidence to support this practice and it is not endorsed or recommended by any reputable medical groupnot any.

Originating in Scientology

For the most part, rehabs offering this service as a primary treatment (not as something nice to relax in occasionally) are basing their treatments on the thinking and philosophy of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

And although supporters of these treatments may offer up 'research' results that ‘prove’ the efficacy of intensive sauna regimens for detoxification, these studies do not meet basic clinical standards, nor were they reviewed prior to publication in any reputable scientific or medical journal.

Most of the 'research' papers published to support saunas for detoxification have appeared in the journal Medical Hypothesis.

  • This is the only Elsevier journal that doesn't require peer scientific review of articles prior to publishing.
  • In addition to Scientology science, it also recently accepted an article denying the link between HIV and AIDS (2009) and an article which referred to those with Down's syndrome as Mongoloids.

in 2009, based on its lack of scientific rigor and because it had become a tool by which pseudoscience organizations attempted to legitimize their theories, a group of scientists petitioned The National Institute of Medicine to remove the journal from the Medline database.1

Choose Evidence Based Therapies

  1. There is no one-size-fits all treatment for addiction, different interventions can work for different people.
  2. But though not all interventions will work for all people, there is no reason to subject yourself to an intervention never proven to work for any person.

So before you waste your time, money, energy and hope on something that won’t work, and might even harm, do some research on your own and confirm for yourself that what you see on an attractive website really stands up to legitimate scrutiny.

  • Why not double check the reputation and practices of any program under consideration with a medical professional you know and trust before committing to anything?

If your doctor confirms that treatments meet scientific/medical standards, then you’ll know at least that you’re not putting your health at risk.

Take Home Message

  1. If a program advertises long stays in a sauna as core component of treatment, you should be very cautious. This treatment is generally only used in Scientology-related programs.
  2. No research evidence from any peer-reviewed academic journal supports this practice. Sweating out toxins for long periods will not shorten or reduce withdrawal severity.
  3. Long periods in a sauna combined with large doses of vitamins may do you harm.
  4. When choosing treatment, make sure to do your research to avoid dangerous programs using non evidence based therapies.
References
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Page last updated Feb 05, 2015

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