Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin is a highly addictive opiate, making it extremely hard for users to decide to quit using it. It is also extremely difficult for them to face going through the harsh process of quitting it, and take the decision to stay away from it in the future.

The drug is extremely destructive in its effects on the lives of those who use it and their families. It can also adversely affect unborn babies. Heroin can also send ripple effects through society by transmitting diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis when injected with dirty needles and escalations in crime and violence are also associated with its use.

Heroin, a drug synthesized from morphine, can be smoked, inhaled or injected. When injected, it delivers a feeling of euphoria to the brain so rapidly that the risk of addiction is high. In 2011, 4,3million Americans reported having tried it at least once, and it’s thought about one in four of those who use it once are likely to become dependent on it.

Detox is extremely hard because of withdrawal symptoms which kick in faster with this quick-acting drug than from other opiates. Symptoms of withdrawal include muscle and bone pain, involuntary kicking movements, insomnia, diarrhea and vomiting. Although usually not life-threatening, it is best not to try detoxing without supervision.

Medical treatments

To handle the extremely uncomfortable heroin detox, a replacement synthetic drug is often used for heroin addiction. This is given in gradually reducing doses over a period of time. One of the most commonly used drugs is methadone.

In some instances, the detox period is intensified and shortened with medication. The patient is put under anesthesia, so does not experience the same amount of discomfort, and the physical part of the detox process is over more quickly.

After detox, controlled amounts of methadone are often used as part of an administered maintenance program to prevent relapse into heroin addiction. This is done particularly when users have a long history of heroin use or relapses after treatment.

The drug allows for normal function without providing the highs and lows of heroin or the illicit activities or risks involved in its use.


Detoxification is just the first step on the road to a heroin-free life. Without a long-term rehabilitation program, relapse is extremely common. As with most drug addiction treatments, there are two options, outpatient and inpatient treatment programs.

Outpatient treatment: During an outpatient program the patient continues to live at home while undergoing treatment. The advantage is that the patient is able to continue going to work each day and resume an ordinary life with the support of family and friends.

However the treatment’s effectiveness can be affected if the addict is not yet ready to face a heroin-free world. This may happen if the home environment contributed to the development of the heroin addiction or carries too many reminders of drug use which could trigger a relapse.

Outpatient rehab recovery programs usually involve 10 to 12 hours a week at a treatment center for anything from three months to over a year. The program includes group and individual counselling and therapy.

Inpatient or residential treatment usually lasts between 30 and 90 days, though it can be longer in more severe addiction cases. Where the facility has the requisite medical support, the center can provide help with assisted detox and continue right through the rehabilitation process. The addict lives and stays on the premises, away from the stressors and triggers of the environment he or she lived in as a heroin user. The entire focus is then on recovery and rehabilitation.

Therapy offered usually aims at helping addicts identify and overcome weaknesses and triggers and finds ways to deal with behavioral problems. Support groups and family counselling are also part of the program, and other activities like exercise, art or even skills-training may be included.

Moving on from heroin use:

Even after an extended inpatient treatment, it would be advisable to continue attending support group meetings and therapy sessions. Many patients choose to sign up at outpatient centers, while others opt for the half-way house or sober living community option as a means of gradually returning to normal life.

Easing your mind:

  • Privacy: Users wishing to undergo rehabilitation needn’t worry about their personal privacy – all rehabilitation centers respect patients’ anonymity.
  • Payment: Help is available for part or all the costs of addiction treatment in terms of most private and state medical insurance plans. In terms of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) addiction is no longer viewed as a pre-existing condition for insurance purposes, and coverage has to be as complete for it as for any other medical procedure.

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