Heroin addiction is a problem in the United States. In 2017, heroin claimed more than 15,000 American lives. If you or a loved one struggle with heroin, it is important to know your options for quitting the drug. Luckily, heroin rehab is available. Knowing about the different types of rehab is important to be able to make the best choice for recovery.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Options
Many options for heroin 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. Rehab and medications are both tailored to the person’s needs. This variety gives the person the best chance of recovery.
Medications That May be Used in Rehab
Different medications may be used to help you during rehab. Some drugs may ease withdrawal symptoms. Others may reduce cravings and help achieve long-term abstinence.
- Vitamins: Vitamin C can improve withdrawal symptoms when used at high doses.
- Clonidine: Clonidine is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist that can help moderate-to-severe withdrawal symptoms. It should not be used at the same time as opioid replacement therapy.
- Buprenorphine: This opioid is considered the best choice for moderate-to-severe withdrawal in most people. It can help withdrawal symptoms and lessen cravings. It is often combined with naloxone to reduce the risk of misuse. Buprenorphine can be used both in detox and long-term for opioid replacement therapy.
- Methadone: This opioid can be used in both opioid withdrawal and opioid replacement therapy. It can stop cravings without causing a high. It can also block a high if you take heroin. As a long-acting drug, it is a useful option if the person is trying to quit a long-acting opioid like morphine.
- Codeine: This opioid can help lessen both withdrawal and cravings. However, between 2% and 10% of people may not respond to codeine.
- Naltrexone: This drug is an opioid blocker. It is not used during medical detox as it can worsen withdrawal symptoms. Further, it does not impact cravings. Rather, it is used when you have been free of opioids for at least a week. It works by blocking the high from opioids. Therefore, naltrexone is used to prevent relapse instead of treating withdrawal.
Residential rehab often follows 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 both your medical needs as well as your addiction. The goal of this stage in rehab is 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
What to Expect When You go to Rehab
Rehab includes many components, such as medications and therapy. Therapy is an integral part of rehab. Such is its importance that studies show that therapy halves the risk of dropping out of a heroin 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
Different types of therapy are offered in rehab. Depending on your needs, you may take part 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. Specific therapy techniques may be used, like:
- 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 get to hear from other people in similar situations. It can help you to feel like you are not alone and that other people struggle with the same things that you do. You can learn from other people in these sessions and support each other as you all work towards recovery.
- Family counseling: Family members and spouses are included in this type of therapy. Together, you can work to strengthen family bonds that may have been tested by your struggle with heroin.
After residential rehab, you may be able to continue 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 hold down 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
Substance use and mental health are closely linked. Mental health issues are a major risk factor for dropping out of 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, any mental health problems still need to be treated. Otherwise, these problems continue and put you more at risk.
People with mental health issues may need extra support in rehab. In dual diagnosis treatment, both addiction and mental health problems are treated together. Common mental health issues that can be addressed are:
- Personality disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Psychotic disorders
- Eating disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
Aftercare and Sober Living
The long-term success of rehab depends on your ability to hone the life skills you learned in rehab. Unfortunately, the stress of the outside world can often distract people from this goal. For this reason, aftercare is one of the most important parts of the recovery process. Aftercare can include:
- Support groups and 12-step programs
- Alumni groups for rehab programs
- Faith-based programs
- Tests for infections like HIV
- Social work help
- Help finding a job
- Support in school
- Housing help
- Help with transportation
Further, a supportive living environment after rehab is key to recovery. Some people may benefit from living with others in a sober living house after rehab. Studies have shown that factors like living alone after rehab increase the risks of dropping out of abstinence.
How Long Does Rehab Take?
Everyone’s addiction is different and one person’s journey cannot be compared to another person’s. For this reason, no single rehab duration is right for everyone. In general, rehab should last at least 90 days. However, rehab can continue for much longer.
Does Insurance Cover Rehab?
Insurance may cover rehab, at least in part. All employer and private health plans are required to cover some rehab. However, the details often depend on your insurance plan. If you have Medicare, your coverage depends on your plan. Other factors to consider when it comes to paying for rehab are:
- Sliding Fee Scale: The rehab center may be able to adjust your payments based on your ability to pay.
- Government Assistance: If you are on Medicaid, your rehab may be covered.
- Private Pay: Besides possibly being eligible for a sliding fee scale, you should also check to see if you are eligible for Medicaid.
- Veterans: Rehab is often covered as a benefit for veterans. Your Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center will be able to give you more information.
Choosing a Heroin Rehab Center
Given the widespread opioid epidemic, many heroin rehab centers are available. Each center is different and has its own options. Things to consider while picking a center include:
- Setting: Some rehab centers may specialize in inpatient rehab, while others may specialize in outpatient.
- Distance: Some rehab programs may be far away from where you live.
- Length: Some rehab programs last a certain amount of time, while others can be flexible.
- Specialty: Rehab programs may specialize in treating certain drugs.
- Level of addiction: Certain rehab settings may be more compatible with the level of care you need.
- Insurance: Some insurance programs may require lower payment for some rehabs versus others.
- Aftercare: Different rehab centers may have different options for aftercare.
What Happens After Rehab?
The rehab process often includes a slow transition to outpatient therapy and support groups, both of which are cornerstones of aftercare. After rehab, it is crucial to remain involved with aftercare. Because addiction is a lifelong struggle, aftercare is a lifelong component of recovery.
Key Points: Understanding Heroin Addiction Treatment and Rehab
Important points to remember about heroin addiction include:
- Detox is the first, but not the only, step in quitting heroin use
- Different medications may be available to you throughout the heroin rehab process
- Different types of heroin rehab options are available, depending on your needs
- Aftercare is a lifelong part of the recovery process that continues even after rehab is over
Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help you. Take the first step toward a healthier future, call today.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Today’s Heroin Epidemic.” December 19, 2018. Accessed August 18, 2019.
Salamina, Giuseppe; et al. “Effectiveness of Therapies for Heroin Addiction in Retaining Patients in Treatment: Results From the VEdeTTE Study.” Substance Abuse & Misuse, October 2010. Accessed August 18, 2019.
Hser, Yih-Ing. “Predicting Long-term Stable Recovery from Heroin Addiction: Findings from a 33-year Follow-up Study.” Journal of Addictive Diseases, 2007. Accessed August 18, 2019.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Opioid Abuse and Addiction Treatment.” May 22, 2019. Accessed August 18, 2019.
World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed August 18, 2019.
Evangelou, Angelos; et al. “Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Effects on Withdrawal Sydrome of Heroin Abusers.” In Vivo, April 2000. Accessed August 18, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Medical Detoxification.” February 2016. Accessed August 18, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Duration of Treatment.” February 2016. Accessed August 18, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.