Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is a major problem in the United States. Chronic heroin use can lead to a range of medical complications, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, and collapsed veins. The good news is that there are many different heroin addiction treatments available for those looking to obtain sobriety. From pharmacological treatment to behavioral therapies, here are the best types of treatment for heroin addiction.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is an opioid drug synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from poppy plants. It is an extremely addictive drug. Heroin became illegal in the United States in 1924 and can come as a white or brown powder or in the form of a dark brown tar-like substance.
Its production was originally limited to pharmaceutical companies, but illegal production now makes up most of the world’s supply. The heroin high is short-lived and can quickly lead to addiction. Heroin abuse carries risks such as incarceration or death due to overdose, blood-borne diseases like HIV or hepatitis, and fatal accidents because of impaired coordination and slowed reaction time.
How To Help Someone Struggling With Addiction
Heroin addiction is characterized by compulsive heroin use despite negative consequences, such as harm to one’s health, criminal activity, and relationship problems. Heroin also leads to short-term and long-term effects on the brain, including deterioration of the brain’s white matter, affecting people’s ability to appropriately make decisions, regulate behavior, and respond to stressful situations.3
The best treatment options for heroin addiction involve a combination of medically supervised detoxification and behavioral therapy, in addition to other heroin treatments like medications and inpatient treatment at a heroin addiction rehab. All treatment options help restore a degree of normalcy to brain function and behavior while reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Heroin Detox?
Heroin detox is the first step in the addiction treatment process, followed by evidence-based treatment. It involves cleansing any toxins from the patient’s system under medical supervision to ensure a safe withdrawal. Heroin addiction produces severe withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, and pain. This is why detoxing from this substance generally involves medications like methadone that ease cravings and other physical symptoms.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Heroin?
Heroin Detox Program for Addiction Treatment
Patients who suffer from heroin addiction can benefit from a medical detox program, which is the first step toward long-term sobriety. A team of medical experts keeps patients safe and secure each step of the way by monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature levels.
Heroin detox programs usually last between five and seven days, depending on the severity of the addiction. More heavily dependent patients require longer detox that may last for up to ten days.
Pharmacological Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, have been found to be effective for heroin addiction treatment. They reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms that appear when a person abruptly stops taking heroin.
Buprenorphine is another medication for heroin addiction approved by the FDA. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that binds to the same opioid receptors that heroin activates but activates them less intensely than full agonists. Similar to methadone, it can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in people with heroin addiction without producing feelings of euphoria.
Behavioral Therapy Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based type of treatment that effectively treats patients with underlying mental health conditions. It works by assisting patients in recognizing and changing negative patterns of thoughts to stop drug abuse. CBT may be beneficial as a complementary treatment for heroin addiction, used together with pharmacological treatment.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
Dialectical behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that has been proven to be effective in treating self-destructive behaviors, such as anger, impulsivity, and self-harm. It teaches patients skills to cope with and change unhealthy behaviors.
There are several types of DBT, including individual therapy, group therapy, and telephone crisis coaching. While some patients may prefer group therapy, others may find it challenging to discuss their issues in front of an audience. Individual DBT therapy typically involves weekly one-to-one sessions with a therapist. DBT sessions last between forty-five to sixty minutes.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)
The Most Effective Treatment for Heroin Addiction
A detox program is only the first clinical phase of a multi-phase continuum of care, one that will pave the road for a successful long-term recovery journey. We believe that the best way to ensure long-term sobriety from heroin addiction is by enforcing a full continuum of care that starts with detox, moves on to inpatient rehab, and concludes with sober living or outpatient treatment.