Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Many options for heroin addiction treatment exist, depending on where you are in the recovery process. Further, certain drugs may be used to help ease your withdrawal symptoms or cravings. Medical detox, rehab and medications are tailored to the person’s needs giving them the best chance of recovery.
Heroin detox or detoxification is necessary to completely clear heroin and its metabolites from your body. Trying heroin detox on your own at home can lead to unpleasant and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
However, undergoing heroin detox in a medical facility (sometimes called medical detox) can help. In medical detox, your heroin withdrawal symptoms can be treated as they occur, leading to a much more comfortable withdrawal from heroin. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone or buprenorphine-based products like Suboxone often starts in medical detox to help avoid withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
The biggest complication of heroin detox is the individual returning to drug use after a successful detox. This complication can be very dangerous because most opiate overdose deaths occur in people who have just detoxed. Withdrawal from heroin reduces an individual’s tolerance to the drug making it possible for people who completed detox to overdose on much smaller doses or amounts of heroin than they had used before with no issues.
Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
Following medical detox, a person enters inpatient or outpatient rehab. Rehab should last at least 90 days. However, it can continue for much longer.
Residential rehab, also known as inpatient rehab, often immediately follows medical heroin detox. This kind of rehab mixes addiction treatment and support for medical issues. If you have underlying medical problems, time in inpatient rehab may address your medical needs and addiction. This rehab stage aims to create a safe place for you to recover. Benefits of this type of rehab include:
- Being able to focus on your recovery
- Getting rid of drug-use triggers
- Living in a safe place
- Having around-the-clock medical care
After residential rehab, you may be able to continue to outpatient rehab while living at home or in a sober living house. In outpatient rehab, you continue therapy one-on-one or in groups. Support groups may also be an option. While in outpatient rehab, you may be able to maintain a job and social responsibilities. Outpatient rehab may be an option when:
- You completed residential rehab
- You cannot take a break from outside life to deal with your heroin struggle
- You need privacy, as an absence from daily life may raise suspicions
- Your struggle with heroin is in the early stages
Rehab includes many components, such as medications and therapy. Therapy is an integral part of rehab. Studies show that therapy halves the risk of quitting a heroin treatment program. Therapy is important because it can:
- Teach you different attitudes about drug use
- Replace unhealthy life skills with healthy ones
- Reinforce your other treatments, like medicines
Rehab offers different types of therapy. Depending on your needs, you may participate in one or more of them during your recovery. They include:
- One-on-one counseling: In this type of therapy, you may set personal goals, discuss setbacks and celebrate progress.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This therapy can teach you coping skills for stress. By learning to change negative thought patterns, your desire for opioids can decrease.
- Motivational enhancement therapy: This therapy may increase your resolve to keep to your treatment plan.
- Contingency management: This method can provide rewards for staying off drugs.
- Group counseling: In this kind of therapy, you hear from other people in similar situations. It can help you feel like you are not alone and other people struggle with the same things you do. You can learn from others in these sessions and support each other as you all work towards recovery.
- Family counseling: Family members and spouses are included in this therapy. Together, you can work to strengthen family bonds that your struggle with heroin may have tested.
Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Substance use and mental health are closely linked. Mental health issues are a major risk factor for quitting a heroin recovery program. Further, successfully addressing mental health problems is linked to success in long-term heroin recovery. Even if you stop taking heroin, mental health problems must still be treated. Otherwise, these problems continue and increase your risk.
People with mental health issues may need extra support in rehab. In dual diagnosis treatment, addiction and mental health problems are treated together. The required treatment length can differ by person. Common mental health issues that can be addressed are: