guiding you to recovery number
Let Us Call You
Recent Articles
Find Centers Near You
the treatment helpline substances

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin Facts
The number of heroin deaths from 2012 to 2013 rose from 5,925 to 8,257
The number of past year heroin users in the United States nearly doubled from 2005 to 2012
79.5% of heroin users previously abused opiates
In 2010, the United States heroin market was worth $27billion, more than the amount spent in U.S. hardware stores ($22 Billion) or at specialty food retailers ($21 Billion)
In 2013, there were 169,000 first-time heroin users in the United States over the age of 12
In 2013, the average age of a first time heroin user in the United States was 24.5
fact navigationfact navigation

Heroin is quickly becoming a national epidemic in the United States. A March 2015 report released by the CDC on the National Center for Health Statistics showed that the national heroin death rate nearly tripled from 2010 to 2013; that figure alone is nearly quadruple the rate from the year 2000. Heroin is an extremely dangerous drug that can leave its users in a feeling of hopelessness and despair as their dependence on the drug grows stronger.

Behaviors that heroin users may exhibit include unexplained expenses, decreased performance in work or school, lying and deception, sleeping more than normal, decreased attention to hygiene, loss of motivation, lack of interest in hobbies once loved, isolating themselves from family and friends, and the list goes on. Prolonged or extensive use of heroin will increase the risk of some of the side effects listed below:

  • Compulsive feelings to scratch or pick skin
  • Loss of menstrual cycle in women (also known as amenorrhea)
  • Cuts, bruises, and scabs
  • Heart problems (i.e. infection of heart lining and valves)
  • Infectious diseases spread by shared needles (i.e. HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C)
  • Chronic pneumonia or other pulmonary diseases
  • Blood clots and tissue death
  • Bacterial infections
  • Liver disease
  • Depression
  • Droopy appearance
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Runny nose
  • Needle track marks
  • Infections or abscesses at injection site
  • Arthritis
  • Seizures
  • Death

Entering into a heroin treatment facility is typically necessary when kicking this painful addiction for good. The afflicted individual must be able to admit and realize that their addiction has become a problem in order to accept the treatment that they need. Once in the proper treatment facility, the individual will then begin the heroin detoxification process. The detox process will rid the individual's physical dependence on heroin so that their body will no longer yearn for the substance.

Heroin detoxification may include difficult withdrawal symptoms such as pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. These will be treated with professionally administered medications to ease the discomfort and control drug cravings. There are a variety of detoxification options, but they all are medical detoxes that must incorporate non-addictive pain medication to fight the painful side-effects of addiction withdrawal while the individual is being weaned off of heroin. Listed below are four commonly-used detox methods for heroin users:

  • Rapid Detox: During a rapid detox, the patient will undergo general anesthesia in which a high dosage of an anti-opiate will be administered. This will instantly stop the actions of the opiates in the body. Rapid detox also involves the patient being given pain-relief medication to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. This entire process can take anywhere from four to eight hours depending on the severity of the addiction. Due to the seriousness of this specific treatment, a rapid detox must be done at an inpatient treatment facility.
  • Stepped Rapid Detox: Throughout a stepped rapid detox, small doses of Narcan, a prescribed drug designed to help fight off the opiate addiction, will be injected just beneath the skin of the patient. Naltrexone, a prescription drug similar to Narcan, will also be administered orally to the patient every hour. Additionally, pain medication will be given to fight off the symptoms of withdrawal. A stepped rapid detox is not as quick of a process as a rapid, however less pain medication is usually needed to combat the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Ultra Rapid Detox: An ultra rapid detox is known as the fastest detoxing process. It can be accomplished in as little as five to 30 minutes. This method is usually very painful. Because of this, the patient will be placed under general anesthesia for the entirety of the process. Naltrexone will then be injected directly into the bloodstream to block the patient's endorphin receptors. This will speed up the detox process and, therefore, the physical dependency on the drug ceases faster. An ultra rapid detox must be conducted at an approved medical facility under the supervision of trained professionals due to the severity of the treatment.
  • Methadone Detox: Methadone detox is the most common method of detox. This specific detox treatment involves taking tapered doses of Methadone, which will help to relieve pain experienced during the process. The patient will be given an initial dose of the drug on the first day of the detox. The dosage amount will be tapered over the next 21 days until the person is completely free of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms may resurface during the treatment period, but pain medication may be be prescribed to ease these symptoms.

At The Treatment Helpline, we highly recommend that heroin detoxes take place at a proper inpatient treatment facility as heroin addictions tend to be extremely dangerous and, if not treated, may result in fatal health complications or sometimes even death. Inpatient care guarantees that the individual will be absent from any situation or environmental factors that could potentially trigger the individual to use again and cause relapse.

Once the individual is free from their physical dependence on heroin, the treatment will shift to the individual's emotional dependence. Patients will undergo one-on-one therapy sessions with a therapist to analyze the behaviors and emotional factors that led the person to their heroin addiction. These sessions will attempt to tackle any potential causes of stress or emotional trauma that the person may have to get them in a better mind set going forward so they can face their daily life without feeling the need to fall back into using.

Other treatment approaches, such as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy, have also shown to be an effective tools in combating a heroin addiction. Contingency management therapies employ a voucher-based system wherein individuals earn points for every clean drug test administered. They can then use these points for products or services, such as fitness classes or a free gym membership. By rewarding people with products or services that encourage a healthy lifestyle, the individual not only gets to participate in fulfilling group activities, but they also can get into the mindset about being excited about good health and wellness practices.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps to identify the negative thought patterns that influence a person's overall behavior. Negative and irrational thinking play a huge role in any addiction; these thought patterns are typically what start and perpetuate the substance abuse. Once these patterns are identified, the cycle can then be broken. Cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions help the individual get on a track to thinking more positively and provide encouragement and support that they may need during recovery.

Don't hesitate to get the addiction treatment help that you or a loved one may need. Call us The Treatment Helpline today for a FREE consultation. If you're not sure where to begin with the treatment process, leave us your number and we'll call you.

Recent Heroin Treatment Articles

Volunteering as part of your recovery effort is not... More

Volunteering as part of your recovery effort is not... More

When you think of summer eating, your mind might... More

Summer can feel like a time of renewal, a time to... More