Heroin Addiction Treatment
Heroin addiction is a life-threatening medical condition that affects physical and mental health. It requires a variety of medical treatments from healthcare professionals and addiction specialists.
The increase of substance use disorders involving prescription and illegal opioids has heightened awareness of the opioid epidemic and the extent of its social and medical impacts.
The prevalence of heroin addiction among diverse populations has led to higher numbers of heroin overdoses. Fortunately, opioid addiction is treatable with the right approach.
Effective treatment for heroin dependence and addiction entails a step-by-step process involving diagnosis, detox medical care, withdrawal management, and various therapeutic approaches.
Levels Of Treatment
The severity of opioid use disorders such as heroin addiction depends on multiple factors and variables. The level of care needed is determined by the duration and amount of heroin use.
Heroin Detox Treatment
The length of time that heroin is abused proportionally correlates to the level of a person’s tolerance.
The higher the tolerance and chemical dependence, the worse the withdrawal symptoms will be.
Heroin detox treatment is necessary in most cases of heroin addiction to monitor someone’s physical and mental health as cessation of drug use causes them to go through withdrawal.
Find more information on heroin withdrawal symptoms and how it’s medically managed in detox.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the pharmacological treatment of opioid use disorders and addiction to facilitate the detoxification process by managing withdrawal symptoms.
There are three types of medications used for pharmacological treatment that also help to sustain long-term recovery by reducing cravings.
- methadone, an opioid agonist (brand names Dolophine and Methadose)
- buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist (brand names Subutex and Suboxone)
- naltrexone, an opioid antagonist (brand name Vivitrol)
Learn more about medication-assisted treatment and how it alleviates withdrawal from heroin.
In many cases, the recommendation for heroin addiction is inpatient or residential treatment. This level of care provides a safe and therapeutic environment that is conducive to abstinence.
The duration of inpatient care depends on the person’s clinical diagnosis and medical needs, but often goes for a minimum of 30 days and can extend for up to 90 days or more.
As part of a continuum of care, inpatient treatment is often followed by an outpatient program, which provides aftercare services such as cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups.
Individual and group therapy is typically used as part of an ongoing treatment plan in combination with medication-assisted treatment and other approaches that support recovery.
Levels of outpatient care for heroin addiction treatment include:
- Standard outpatient program (OP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Medication-assisted treatment
Why Treatment Is Necessary For Heroin Addiction
The nature of heroin addiction is both physical and psychological.
While there are physical effects of opioid dependence to contend with, there are also disruptive emotional side effects of heroin.
Heroin and other opioid drugs have complex effects on the body and mind. As tolerance increases, higher doses are needed to provide the equivalent analgesic (pain-numbing) effects.
When heroin activates the brain’s opioid receptors, the brain is flooded with dopamine, which causes intense euphoria and a chemical imbalance that worsens with repeated use.
With prolonged heroin abuse, withdrawals also intensify, becoming more difficult to physically and emotionally tolerate. The urge to alleviate heroin withdrawal perpetuates the cycle of use.
Withdrawal symptoms caused by heroin leaving the body may include:
- anxiety and agitation
- nausea and vomiting
- excessive sweating
- chills and goosebumps
- muscle and bone pain
- uncontrollable leg movement
Treating Women With Heroin Addiction
Women who deal with heroin addiction often have interrupted menstrual cycles, or amenorrhea. Pregnant women who abuse heroin may have prenatal health issues and complications.
Medication-assisted treatment is often the preferred recommendation for pregnant women who are opioid-dependent instead of medically supervised detox, which can be harmful to the fetus.
Find everything you should know about heroin addiction treatment for women here.
Treating A Heroin Overdose
Heroin is an unregulated substance that is often mixed with stronger opioids such as fentanyl and carfentanil, so there is a high risk of potentially fatal overdose for anyone who uses heroin.
The effects of a heroin overdose can be reversed by naloxone, an opioid antagonist approved by the FDA to rapidly restore breathing.
Read more about treatment for heroin overdose.
Getting Treatment For Heroin Addiction In Massachusetts
Recovery from heroin addiction is possible. The most effective way to recover is to participate in a recovery program at an addiction treatment center where supportive resources are available.
If a loved one or someone you know is dealing with a heroin addiction and is in need of treatment, there are many substance abuse disorder treatment approaches to choose from.
At Spring Hill Recovery Center, our team of addiction specialists is available to provide care and guidance to help you or someone you care about to recover and live a life free of addiction.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/Medication-Assisted-Treatment-Opioid-Use-Disorder-Study.html
- Healthline – Heroin Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Outlook https://www.healthline.com/health/heroin-addiction
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Medications to Treat Opioid Disorder https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/overview
- National Institute on Drug Abuse – What are the treatments for heroin use disorder? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-use-disorder
- VeryWell Mind – Treatment Options for Heroin Addiction https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-treatments-for-heroin-addiction-63231
- WebMD – Heroin Addiction Treatment: Know Your Options https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/heroin/heroin-addiction-treatment-options
- WebMD – Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms: What You Need To Know https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/heroin-withdrawal-symptoms
- WebMD – Here’s What Happens If Your Heroin Addiction Goes Untreated https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/addiction-treatment-recovery/heroin/what-happens-when-heroin-addiction-goes-untreated