There are a number of different options for heroin addiction treatment, however, the first step should always be a detox. Many heroin users continue to use for fear of experiencing acute withdrawal pain and often relapse immediately. Providing patients with effective medical detoxification is the best option for a successful heroin addiction treatment. Furthermore, when an inpatient medical detox program is combined with emotional support and care, the chances of success are greatly improved.
Heroin Addiction Treatment and Recovery Options
Despite the fact that an increasing number of people are affected by heroin abuse, access to effective heroin addiction treatment remains extremely low. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2016 about 948,000 Americans reported using heroin in the past year. This number has been steadily rising since 2007. This trend appears to be driven largely by young adults aged 18–25. The number of people using heroin for the first time is high, with 170,000 people starting heroin use in 2016. This is nearly double the number of people in 2006 (90,000). Understanding what heroin addiction is, along with its causes and effects, can help each individual make a more informed decision about finding the right path to recovery.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is an illegal and highly addictive drug processed from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of certain varieties of poppy plants. When a person takes heroin — through smoking, injecting, or snorting the drug — it crosses the blood-brain barrier to enter the brain. Once heroin has entered the brain, individual enzymes convert heroin into morphine, which attaches to opioid receptors spread throughout the brain and body. These receptors stimulate the release of neurotransmitters, in particular, dopamine, which cause a feeling of euphoria.
Why is Heroin so Addictive?
The intensity of the euphoria triggered by heroin use is part of what makes the drug so addictive. Opioid drugs reorganize particular structures in the brain’s reward system. Heroin hijacks the pleasure circuitry to crave more and more of the drug. Over time, however, taking the same amount of heroin will lead to a diminished euphoric feeling. This phenomenon is known as “tolerance.”
One of the most significant dangers associated with heroin use is the physical and psychological changes which occur. These changes induce dependence which typically leads to addiction. Heroin addiction interferes with an individual’s ability to maintain even a basic quality of life. Fundamentally, users will jeopardize their physical health to acquire and use the drug, regardless of its negative consequences. Once heroin user stops using, he or she can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms and cravings are often the reason people continue using the drug or relapse after a detox attempt.
Overcoming a Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin withdrawal can be extraordinarily unpleasant, involving diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Although it is possible to try to quit heroin “cold turkey,” many people are unsuccessful because of the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, heroin withdrawal may even be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions, as it can severely damage your organs.
Health professionals use specific medications which help ease the body through withdrawal. This process is known as detoxification. Detoxification is a vital first step in the treatment process. Finding a detoxification center that takes an individualized, patient-centered approach to detox is important for a successful recovery. For example, the Waismann Method conducts a comprehensive assessment to identify the medical, psychological, and emotional factors affected by heroin addiction. Medical professionals and addiction specialists then devise an individualized treatment plan to help each person through detoxification.
Heroin Withdrawal Treatment
To minimize heroin withdrawal symptoms, rehab and drug treatment programs often utilize medications such as methadone and Suboxone. There is some concern over the use of these drugs as they are also opioids. In these cases, withdrawal is merely being delayed to a later time and the greater opiate addiction will still need to be overcome.
Methadone: Methadone is an opioid agonist, meaning it activates opioid receptors. However, it acts more slowly than heroin, leading to a diminished “high.” As a type of opioid, methadone continues to fuel physical dependence.
Suboxone: Buprenorphine, which is also sold in formulation with naloxone, is a partial opioid agonist. It binds to opioid receptors but only partially activates them. Buprenorphine can curb drug cravings with a lower side effect profile than other opioids. Some of the familiar brands are Suboxone, Buprenex, Botrans, Probuphine, and Belbuca.
Inpatient Medical Detox: Medically supervised heroin detox programs are often the most successful treatment option. As a study of The Journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence shows, most people suffering from heroin addiction want to get sober as quickly as possible. In a hospital, physicians have access to medications to manage the withdrawal symptoms, while controlling an individual’s vitals. While this process seems to be the most beneficial form of heroin detoxification, medically assisted detox should not be viewed, in and of itself, as a complete heroin addiction treatment. While people emerge from these programs heroin-free, it is only the first step and must be followed by some form of psychotherapy.
Non-Opioid Drugs to Eliminate Cravings
Naltrexone and Vivitrol: Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks other opioids. According to the NIAAA, this drug does not result in physical dependence, unlike replacement drugs such as methadone and buprenorphine. It is important to realize that one needs to undergo thorough opiate detoxification before taking naltrexone. When taken correctly, this drug can be highly effective in helping to maintain sobriety.
Unfortunately, many drug treatment providers do not distinguish between these types of drugs. Often, substance abuse professionals are not equipped with the necessary educational background to understand the varied physiological effects of each medication. Consequently, methadone and buprenorphine are often the treatment drug of choice. However, the long-term effects of these drugs merely replace one addiction with another. Although these drugs may have milder side effects, individuals taking them remain dependent on a substance. A more thorough approach is to undergo a complete medical detoxification, followed by a treatment program which addresses the root of the addiction.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Options
Addiction is a complex condition, which frequently manifests itself through compulsive substance use despite the harmful and risky consequences. People suffering from heroin addiction have a constant focus on using to the point that it takes over all aspects of their lives. Substance abuse disorders can cause distorted thinking and unsettling behavior. Changes in the brain’s wiring impair a user’s judgment, decision-making, learning, and behavior control. The good news is that a number of effective heroin addiction treatments are available. Via these programs, people can get well and lead healthy, productive lives.
Some researchers believe there may be a genetic component to the development of addiction, most proven risk factors involve psychological issues. Conditions such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, personality disorder, anxiety and panic disorder, and ADHD are often the root cause of substance abuse. The need to self-medicate emotional distress overcomes the strength to fight the urges. Therefore, post-detox treatment should help introduce new coping skills and address the untreated emotional issues.
Rapid Detox (Anesthesia Assisted Detoxification)
A rapid detox typically involves the administration of an opioid antagonist medication while an individual is under sedation. An antagonist, like Naloxone, is a type of drug that binds more tightly than heroin to the opioid receptors in the body and brain. Opioid antagonists remove the heroin molecules away from opioid receptors. They then bind with the receptors themselves. Once bound, they exert significantly less effect than heroin itself. These opioid antagonists cleanse the body of harmful heroin molecules. They provide a clean slate for an individual to begin to address the underlying psychological or emotional pain fueling the heroin addiction. This type of heroin addiction treatment can have a nearly 100% success rate when done responsibly and in a full-service hospital.
Medical Detox Without Anesthesia
The central nervous system (CNS) includes the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Opioid receptors bind with opiate drugs causing a variety of physiological and emotional effects. Heart rate, pulmonary function, and blood pressure can be compromised as a result of an adverse reaction from opiate use. For this and other reasons, medically supervised detoxification is not just the safest option, but the most successful. Additionally, withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable. A medical detox may provide the most comfortable way to get through a heroin detoxification treatment. The physician closely monitors patients’ vital signs in a hospital. The physician can also utilize higher dosages of medications to regulate brain and body functions.
Medical detox can be relatively short and can provide an immediate opportunity for Naltrexone therapy. Naltrexone eliminates the cravings that are often the primary reason for relapse. Relapse is common after drug rehab as individuals seek relief from the constant cravings, yet have no appropriate coping skills. When an individual has successfully overcome heroin detoxification the cravings are minimal. They then have a much better chance to proceed with a steady recovery.
Drug rehab programs often promise to help individuals suffering from heroin addiction find a new way to re-enter society. There are many different drug rehab programs in the U.S. Most follow the 12-step program and depend on peer support. Some facilities are even gender or religion-specific, as this often helps patients identify with others and feel more comfortable in the program. Inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities are also available.
Rehab centers often carry a stigma, because patients are often labeled as “addicts,” a term that has been proven to be both damaging and unproductive. Removing both the label and the stigma has proven to improve success rates of rehab facilities. Drug rehab attendance is mostly based on financial capabilities or level of insurance coverage. Patients should investigate the resources and reputation of a rehab facility before making a final decision. Also, it is much better to undergo a heroin addiction treatment before entering a rehab due to the lack of medical resources available in many rehab facilities.
Behavioral treatments identify the underlying causes of heroin addiction. In many cases, emotional factors such as abuse, depression, anxiety, social isolation, or trauma lead people to use heroin. Heroin temporarily blunts the pain, but it makes it impossible for a person to honestly work through their emotional distress and create a meaningful life. Behavioral treatment aims to address these underlying issues. However, it is only useful when used alongside a precise diagnosis. It is challenging to obtain a diagnosis when the individual is still using heroin.
What is the Best Heroin Addiction Treatment?
It becomes clear when reviewing treatment options that the best heroin addiction treatment starts with medically supervised detoxification. Detox should be followed by supportive and individual psychological care to address the emotional factors fueling addiction. Individuals are complicated, each with their own distinct history and makeup. There is no single therapy, drug or treatment method that can fit every patient. For this reason, a complete evaluation of each patient’s history of use and abuse should be utilized in developing a successful treatment approach.
It all starts with the decision to put an end to heroin use and choose to get treatment instead. Now is the time to make this decision. Call today 1-310-205-0808 and find out what are the best heroin addiction treatment options for you.