How To Treat Heroin Addiction

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Heroin addiction can be very difficult for a person to overcome on their own, but, fortunately, there is professional heroin addiction treatment available. Treatment options for heroin addiction can include detox, therapy, and medication-assisted treatment.

How To Treat Heroin Addiction

Treating heroin or opioid addiction can be a long process.

In general, a treatment program for heroin drug addiction can include managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings while undergoing clinical therapeutic treatment.

Types Of Heroin Addiction Treatment

A treatment center for heroin addiction will typically offer a continuum of programs that address all the facets of heroin drug use and the different phases of substance abuse treatment for the opiate drug.

A heroin rehab center will give you access to services such as:

  • relapse prevention classes
  • short-term and long-term treatment
  • support groups
  • dual diagnosis treatment for co-occurring mental health issues
  • group therapy
  • inpatient and outpatient treatment

In addition to those listed above, a heroin addiction treatment program will include other treatment categories.

These categories can include:

Medical Detoxification

Whether you are following up on a heroin overdose or coming into treatment after an intervention from family members, you will likely have to go through a medical detox program.

Heroin withdrawal is very uncomfortable. Many people relapse just to avoid the continuation of withdrawal symptoms.

The effects of heroin withdrawal can cause extreme drowsiness, stomach cramping, and vomiting, among other things. It can feel like a severe case of the flu.

The role of heroin detox is to take you safely through withdrawal and ease the symptoms of it so you can begin behavioral therapy with a clear mind.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy can include a variety of therapeutic approaches or modalities that help clients uncover individual root causes of addiction and improve their behavioral health.

Some of these therapies can include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • motivational interviewing
  • dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • trauma-informed therapy

Detox can get you through withdrawal, but it doesn’t bring understanding about addiction or strategies for long-term relapse prevention.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT includes the use of medication in aiding the recovery of clients from heroin addiction.

The medication that is used usually involves blocking the opioid receptors in your brain in order to reduce drug cravings.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment, also referred to as residential treatment, can be ideal for people who are living with severe addiction and who need 24/7 support and supervision.

It gives people a break from the daily stresses and triggers that reinforce addictive behaviors. It also gives them the chance to practice recovery skills in a safe environment.

Outpatient Treatment

There are multiple levels of outpatient treatment available including regular outpatient treatment, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).

Some rehab centers also offer day treatment and evening treatment. Essentially, outpatient treatment is designed to fit in with a person’s schedule and allow them to maintain a normal life.

It can occur after inpatient or residential treatment as a way to help clients slowly integrate into their communities or outpatient treatment can take the place of inpatient treatment.

Medications That Are Used For Heroin Addiction Treatment

There are several different medications that an addiction treatment center could use to treat an opioid use disorder.


Methadone is itself an opiate drug that can be prescribed for chronic pain situations where long-term pain medication will be needed.

Methadone changes the way your central nervous system responds to pain. Similarly, it can change the way the central nervous system responds to opioid addiction.

It is an opioid agonist that can be taken in tablet or liquid form. A methadone maintenance program usually lasts for a year.

Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

Buprenorphine is in a class of drugs called opioid partial agonist-antagonists that is used to block opioid receptors.

It can help manage drug cravings and is often used in conjunction with naloxone which is an opioid antagonist.


Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks opiate drugs like heroin from getting to opioid receptors in the brain.

Treatment providers may also use naltrexone for severe alcohol addiction. It helps reduce cravings for alcohol in much the same way that it does for opioids.


Naloxone goes under the brand name Narcan and is an opioid antagonist that is often used to reverse a heroin overdose.

Naloxone blocks opioid receptors reducing toxicity. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made this drug available in the form of a nasal spray to make it easy to administer.

In many states, you can get naloxone without a prescription, so people can keep it on hand if they have family members or loved ones who use opioids.

How To Recognize When Someone Needs Treatment For Heroin Addiction

Addiction to heroin and other opioids such as oxycodone and fentanyl is on the rise, so it’s important to be able to recognize when a person needs treatment for these addictive substances.

If you can recognize the signs of heroin addiction, you may be able to direct loved ones to a treatment plan that can help them achieve sobriety.

Signs of heroin addiction may include:

  • a euphoric state
  • slow movements
  • slow breathing
  • presence of heroin paraphernalia
  • drowsiness
  • needle marks
  • inability to think clearly
  • boils

What Are The Benefits Of Professional Addiction Treatment?

Professional addiction treatment can make a huge difference for many people when it comes to long-term recovery.

Trained clinicians often have the tools that people addicted to heroin can use in order to withstand relapse and build long-term recovery skills.

Other Risks And Dangers Of Heroin Abuse

Heroin use comes with a number of side effects that will eventually hit people who are involved in heroin or opioid abuse.

Long-Term Health Complications

Heroin use creates many long-term health complications that can negatively affect someone who uses the drug. One of the biggest complications is dependence on and addiction to the drug.

Other long-term side effects include:

  • collapsed veins
  • hardening of veins
  • pneumonia
  • imbalances of hormonal and neuronal systems
  • deterioration of white matter in the brain
  • heroin teeth
  • high risk for diseases such as HIV/AIDs or hepatitis due to needle sharing

High Risk Of Overdose

In addition to being highly addictive, heroin also poses a high risk of overdose.

Heroin abuse can result in a fatal overdose due to tolerance for the drug that requires someone to take greater amounts to get the same high.

Find Treatment For Heroin Addiction And Substance Abuse Disorders Today

If you or a loved one are facing heroin addiction, call today. Our team can assist you in finding the treatment services you need to reach sobriety.


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