Heroin addiction is a severe and debilitating condition. Treatment usually includes various therapies, counseling, medication, and group support. These services are available i Heroin addiction is a severe and debilitating condition. Treatment usually includes various therapies, counseling, medication, and group support. These services are av n many program formats, such as inpatient and partial hospitalization. Certified professional addiction treatment centers typically offer the chances that a person will recovery successfully.
Treatment programs usually place a strong emphasis on psychotherapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy. This approach addresses the underlying factors that have led to a person’s need to engage in substance abuse, and can also treat co-occurring mental illness.
Options for Heroin Addiction Treatment
Harmony Recovery Center offers the following treatment programs:
Detox is an essential first step in overcoming heroin addiction. Heroin withdrawal is highly unpleasant and often painful, and emotional symptoms can persist for weeks or even months. During a clinical detox, however, health providers can administer medications to mitigate discomfort, and staff can provide emotional support during this challenging process.
Throughout partial hospitalization programs (PHP), clients are given a structured daily routine that includes therapy, support groups, and other activities. The main difference between this type of program and inpatient treatment is that those in PHP are allowed to go home to their private residences in the evening, rather than being required to stay in the center overnight.
This schedule allows them to see their families and attend to certain responsibilities but also requires some degree of accountability. PHP often works well for those who have already undergone inpatient treatment, or do not have the most severe types of addiction.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
Intensive outpatient treatment is designed for patients that are ready to move on to a consistent daily routine and productive lifestyle. This is balanced with a high level of professional and medical support.
Patients may choose to reside in a sober living environment but will eventually be transitioned back into a routine that includes school, work, and family responsibilities. In the morning or evening, patients attend treatment in a safe, supportive environment of therapy and counseling, which is vital for maintaining an independent and drug-free life.
Outpatient Treatment (OP)
Outpatient programs are typically designed for patients who have completed higher levels of care. They may also be beneficial for those who have relatively mild substance use problems. OP is important, however, because previous treatment formats can be quite different from the reality of daily life and its temptations.
This kind of ongoing support is important for patients in their new clean life. Patients continue to attend a minimal amount of weekly treatment sessions to help them deal with daily stresses and temptations. These sessions reinforce the patient’s resolve as they transition back to an active and productive lifestyle.
Heroin Addiction Medications
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a fruitful and often essential approach that helps individuals wean themselves off of heroin. MAT accomplishes this through the administration of certain medications that reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings and prevent future use.
Medications commonly prescribed to treat heroin addiction include the following:
Buprenorphine and Suboxone
Buprenorphine is a medication known as a partial opioid agonist. It works to stimulate the same receptors in the brain that are affected by heroin. Buprenorphine can significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and it may also be helpful for those who experience chronic pain.
Of note, the use of buprenorphine can be hazardous for a person who is at risk for relapse. If he or she were to use buprenorphine and follow this up with heroin, they would likely experience acute withdrawal symptoms that could be particularly severe. The person may also overdose due to engaging in a higher level of opioid abuse than their body can now handle.
Buprenorphine can be used long-term if necessary. While it is has a relatively low risk of abuse, it can be habit-forming, and therefore should be used only as prescribed by a physician.
Suboxone is a medication that includes a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an extremely effective remedy for an opioid overdose that reverses life-threating central nervous system (CNS) depression. As a component of Suboxone, naloxone acts as an abuse-deterrent and overdose prevention measure.
So, yes, naloxone should generally protect a person against an opioid overdose. However, very high levels of heroin or more potent opioids, such as fentanyl, may require more naloxone than is in a person’s system. In extreme cases, an overdose is possible.
Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol) belongs to a class of drugs known as full opioid antagonists. It works in the brain by binding tightly to opioid receptors. In doing so, it prevents heroin from attaching and inducing euphoric-like effects and decreases the person’s desire to use opioids. Naltrexone is a very safe medication that can be used long-term to help a person avoid relapse.
Continuing Treatment and Relapse Prevention
After a person completes an outpatient program, ongoing treatment is crucial to maintaining long-term recovery. Regular visits to therapists and counselors can help many former heroin users remain sober. Therapists work to help individuals continue to identify and overcome triggers and deal with daily stressors. They can also teach patients better coping mechanisms and help them gain further insight into the nature of their addiction.
Finally, peer support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, provide support and accountability in a safe, welcoming setting. These groups can be found as a part of comprehensive treatment programs as well as in a variety of stand-alone locations, such as churches, local meeting halls, and sometimes schools.
Suggestions to Prevent Relapse
Use Medication As Directed
It’s crucial for people in recovery to consistently use their medication at the proper dose and for as long as directed. People who are prescribed medications during treatment should continue using them until a health provider says that it’s safe to discontinue use. Stopping these medications can result in more withdrawal symptoms and cravings, which all too often lead to relapse and even overdose.
Attend Therapy, Counseling, and Support Meetings
Addiction is a chronic, lifelong disease that has lasting effects that persist long after detox and recovery. Even people who have abstained from heroin for months or years can be vulnerable to relapse, especially when confronted with grief or a particularly stressful situation.
Heroin has lasting effects on the brain reward system long after the drug is out of the body. While a stressful circumstance can tempt a person in recovery to use, support from a therapist, counselor, or a group meeting can reduce the temptation to use and nip a potential relapse in the bud.
Consider the Use of Prescription Narcotics Carefully
Some people end up relapsing because they were prescribed opioid-based painkillers, such as hydrocodone. Former heroin users that have undergone surgery or suffered an injury should inform their prescribing health provider about their addiction. There are non-narcotic pain relievers available that may be just as effective at treating pain without contributing to a potential relapse.
Find or Re-Engage in Enjoyable Hobbies and Activities
People who enter recovery tend to have a lot more time on their hands and may experience some amount of boredom as a result. The best way to fill up some time that used to be spent using substances is to find or renew interest in hobbies or activities.
The possibilities for hobbies are nearly endless. They may include forms of creative expression (drawing, painting, creating music, etc.) or projects such as working on cars, repairing old furniture, or building a deck. Whatever it is, it just needs to occupy some extra time, keep the person engaged, and provide some interest or enjoyment.
Activities that involve other people—especially if they are also in recovery—can further help with support and social networking and be thoroughly enjoyable. These activities may include playing sports, going to the beach, going for long walks or hikes, or anything that involves healthy interaction with others.
Get Help for Addiction Today
If you are struggling with an addiction to heroin, other drugs, or alcohol, help is available! Harmony Recovery Center offers comprehensive programs that include therapies and services clinically proven to be vital for the recovery process. We also treat co-occurring mental health conditions, such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
If you are suffering, contact us today. Let us help you get on the path to long-lasting sobriety and wellness, one step at a time!