Heroin Rehab Guide
Heroin is a deadly drug that causes what some consider the most severe physical addiction of any other drug on the street today. It has been stated that just a single use of heroin begins changes in the chemical makeup of the brain and the body causing physical dependence after a single use. Prolonged use of heroin can lead to disease, adverse health effects and in the worst case scenario – death.
Heroin rehab provides patients with the help, support, education and tools that they need to get past the physical addiction and dependence that comes from heroin use and can also provide them with counseling to assist with psychological trauma that has resulted from the heroin addiction. Heroin addiction does not mean that you have to live with a lifelong problem. Treatment through detoxification, counseling and aftercare can help.
Estimates state that as many as 98% of heroin abusers who complete heroin rehab will still relapse during the first year. This is an alarming number but it is not reason to lose hope. Relapse is a part of recovery that simply happens and for some, it will happen more often than for others. After prolonged treatment, detoxification and aftercare, many heroin addicts are able to overcome the addiction and call themselves “recovered addicts.”
Heroin is one of the most dangerous, most addictive illicit substances available, and those who begin abusing it almost always need long-term, professional treatment in order to safely recover. If you or someone you love has been abusing heroin and needs help, call 800-895-1695 (Who Answers?) now to find professional rehab programs that will cater to your needs.
Who Needs Heroin Rehab?
Anyone who abuses heroin puts themselves at risk of addiction. The drug is so potent and the cravings it can cause are so severe that most people who abuse it become unable to stop. Treatment in a rehab center is usually the best and safest option for recovery from this type of substance abuse.
People sometimes begin abusing heroin as an easier solution to abusing prescription opioids. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Nearly half of young people who inject heroin surveyed in three recent studies reported abusing prescription opioids before starting to use heroin.” Many of the individuals in the study stated that they did so because heroin is cheaper and much easier to obtain than prescription drugs. Someone who has or is considering making this switch is desperately in need of treatment and should receive help as soon as possible.
Heroin addicts often cannot overcome their disorder without safe, long-term treatment in a rehab center. If you have been using the drug or know anyone else who has, it is time to seek help in order to make real change in your life.
Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Abuse
The signs and symptoms associated with heroin abuse are easy to recognize. If you believe someone you know has been abusing the drug, look for these symptoms, as stated by the Center for Substance Abuse Research:
- Euphoric high
- Dry mouth
- Heaviness in the extremities
- Slowed breathing
These effects are common during acute use, and often, the individual will experience a period called going on the nod where they will alternate between sleep and wakefulness for several hours. If a person takes too much of the drug, their breathing can slow to a dangerous degree or even stop, potentially causing brain damage, coma, and death.
Those who have been abusing the drug in the long-term will exhibit other symptoms as well. For example, those who inject the drug will have track marks, usually on their arms and legs, that they will cover by wearing long sleeves and pants all the time. They may also suffer from severe physical side effects such as
- Infection of the heart lining and valves
- Collapsed veins
- Liver disease
Most individuals who experience these issues as a result of their heroin abuse will refuse to stop using because they can no longer control their desire for the drug. Depression is another common side effect of heroin abuse. In addition, according to the National Library of Medicine, severe withdrawal symptoms may occur when a person suddenly stops using heroin, such as
- Intense muscle, joint, and bone pain
- Abdominal cramps
- Runny nose
The longer one abuses heroin, the more severe the effects become. Therefore, it is important for users to receive treatment as soon as possible and to be able to recover safely in a professional rehab setting.
Methods of Heroin Rehab
The first and most important part of any heroin rehab program is detox. Because heroin addiction is plagued by so many adverse physical aspects and the dependence that the body has on the drug becomes so severe, detox is sometimes a dangerous process. Fortunately, heroin detox can take place in a rehabilitation facility where patients are medical monitored to ensure their safety and their health. Detoxing from heroin is the most difficult part of the recovery process but it typically only takes about two weeks to complete. Once detox has been completed, the patient can enter one of the following methods of heroin rehab for prolonged treatment and care:
- hospital treatment
- inpatient heroin rehab
- outpatient rehabilitation
- local support methods
- psychiatric rehabilitation and counseling
- medical rehab or replacement therapy
Each method of rehab will provide significantly different levels of support and care but can lead to recovery. If your heroin addiction is not severe, an outpatient program that allows you to live at home and receive support through counseling and therapy may be suitable. However, if you’ve suffered from heroin addiction for long time, and you have already relapsed many times, the safety of an inpatient rehab or residential rehab program may be most suited to your condition.
Treatments for Heroin Abuse and Addiction
Heroin addicts require intensive treatment in a rehab center. Fortunately, there are many different options for recovery and care when a person has been abusing heroin, and several different methods may be utilized together to help a person recover more quickly and effectively. The most popular methods for heroin abuse and addiction treatment include
According to the NIDA, “Scientific research has established that pharmacological treatment of opioid addiction increases retention in treatment programs and decreases drug use, infectious disease transmission, and criminal activity.” For many recovering heroin addicts, medication replacement can lead to recovery. The methods of medication replacement or the types of medications that are used to replace the heroin differ from one patient to the next. Some of the most common medication replacement therapies include:
- Methadone: Methadone is a highly addictive opiate that can cause the body to think it is using heroin and can reduce withdrawal symptoms but can also lead to a subsequent addiction. It is an opioid agonist that has been used to treat heroin and other types of opioid addiction since the 1960s (Harvard Medical School). It is often given in daily doses by doctors at certified clinics. Patients who take methadone experience reduced cravings, minimized withdrawal symptoms, and the ability to live their lives without the constant need to abuse opioids. The drug has been used successfully for many patients over a long period of time.
- Buprenorphine: A more recently approved drug for the treatment of heroin abuse, buprenorphine was approved in 2002 by the US Food and Drug Administration (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The drug is effective for the treatment of opioid addicts in many of the same ways that methadone is used, and many patients stay on it for a prolonged period of time. Buprenorphine is safer from overdose and abuse than methadone, as it has a ceiling effect and is prescribed along with naloxone in many cases.
- However, buprenorphine is usually more effective for the treatment of patients with less severe dependencies. Those who are heavily dependent on heroin will often need to be treated with methadone.
- Naltrexone: Naltrexone is effective for the treatment of opioid addiction in those who have a strong motivation to quit. Unfortunately, though, many individuals refuse to take it, and this has led to unsuccessful use. When naltrexone is in someone’s system, they will immediately experience withdrawal effects if they abuse opioids, which is why some individuals refuse to take the drug.
In addition to medication replacement therapy, there are other methods of treatment that can be useful in treating heroin addiction. Medication and reducing the physical dependence on the drug is the first step and only one piece of the puzzle. In addition to the need to provide treatment for the physical dependence, heroin rehab centers are faced with the challenge of helping the patient to overcome psychological effects of the addiction too. Psychologically, heroin addicts need individual counseling, group counseling, relationship counseling and often family counseling in order to fully heal.
Counseling and therapy takes time. In most cases, heroin rehab will suggest that the recovering addict seek counseling for a period of at least 90 days or more following their safe and successful detoxification. Any combination of counseling sessions can be used including individual and group sessions that work to help the patient cope with their desire to use heroin, overcome their negative feelings, and find new ways of effectively coping with their addiction without turning back to drug abuse.
Behavioral therapies are still extremely effective for the treatment of opioid addiction, and most heroin addicts require these in addition to their medications. Certain beneficial options include
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Contingency management
- Family or couples therapy
- Group therapy
- Motivational enhancement therapy
- 12-step facilitation therapy
In addition, many patients require additional treatments, such as well-rounded programs like vocational counseling and housing help, holistic methods like meditation and art therapy, and support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery. Because heroin addiction can be extremely severe, patients require safe, long-term options that can help them
- Avoid withdrawal effects (medications)
- Cope with stress, cravings, and comorbid disorders (medications, behavioral therapies)
- Build a strong social support system (behavioral therapies, support groups)
- Learn better life skills (behavioral therapies, holistic options)
Treatment Program Types for Heroin Addicts
Most heroin addicts require intensive treatment in the beginning, which means inpatient care is often their best option. In an inpatient program, patients receive 24-hour care and supervision so they will not be able to relapse and will be treated for any serious side effects associated with their condition. This is usually the best option for
- Patients who have tried to quit many times and been unable to
- Patients who are suffering from comorbid mental disorders
- Patients who are suffering from severe physical or psychological side effects of their addiction
- Patients who are addicted to other drugs in addition to heroin
- Patients who do not have a strong social support system at home
- Patients whose home environments are unsafe or otherwise not conducive to recovery
However, many individuals benefit immensely from outpatient care for heroin addiction. Usually, this is best for those who have already attended inpatient care, but every individual is different and requires a specialized program for their needs. According to the National Institute of Justice, most methadone centers are outpatient clinics where the patient can visit, receive their medication and attend any other treatments, and then resume their daily life afterward.
How Do I Choose the Right Heroin Rehab Program?
Heroin addiction must be treated safely and effectively in a rehab center, but different patients require different types of treatment. It is important to consider your situation and your needs before choosing a program in order to ensure that you find the best rehab center for you.
- Do you need intensive treatment to ensure that you will not relapse?
- Do you have any comorbid disorders that will need to be treated in a rehab center?
- Do you need legal, financial, or vocational help from your rehab center?
- Are you having monetary problems that will make it difficult for you to pay for treatment?
- Do you have special circumstances, like a disability, a language barrier, etc., that your treatment center will need to understand and provide accommodations for?
When you begin asking yourself what you require of your rehab center, you can determine how intense of a program you will need in addition to what type of treatments, accommodations, and care you will require. As the NIDA states, “Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug abuse.”
How Can I Find Heroin Rehab Centers?
Heroin addiction is extremely dangerous, and the longer you allow it to continue, the more severe it will become. Call 800-895-1695 (Who Answers?) today to find a rehab center that will cater to your needs and allow you to put a stop to your substance abuse.