Last updated: 08/8/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Heroin addiction can be devastating, disengaging and potentially deadly if left untreated. Those who regularly abuse heroin are subject to a lifetime of consequences which may include emotional deterioration, health problems, disease and serious side effects. Heroin addiction treatment, though a difficult process to go through, can be effective if the user is ready to make the commitment to stay clean and to overcome this potentially fatal disease.
Treatment for heroin addiction tends to be most effective when heroin abuse is caught early on and the addiction has not had a complete chance to take reign over the individual yet however there is still hope for those who have been using heroin for many years and are ready to get help. The treatments that are most often used include pharmaceutical approaches, behavioral therapy, detoxification and counseling. Most of the time, drug treatment will consist of a range of techniques and treatment approaches in order to provide the patient with the best possible chance for effective recovery.
Detoxification: The First Step of Heroin Addiction Treatment
The primary objective of detoxification is to help the addict overcome a state of physical dependence on heroin by allowing time for the heroin and related toxins to exit the body. The body will adjust to the lack of heroin by reacting in various ways which may include pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia and other withdrawal symptoms. During detox, the patient will be provided with medications, therapy and treatment that will help to ease or eliminate withdrawal symptoms in a safe and effective manner.
While detox is not actually a treatment for heroin addiction because it only focuses on providing treatment for the physical dependence that surrounds the addiction and does not place any focus on the psychological elements of the chemical dependency, it is a necessary first step to the recovery process. When detoxification is the first step of a lengthy heroin addiction treatment process which includes counseling and behavioral therapy, the process often leads to long-term success in recovery from heroin addiction.
Medication Replacement Programs for Heroin Treatment Options
There are a number of medication replacement programs that provide patients with a way of overcoming heroin addiction without having to completely give up opiates. Methadone and Suboxone are both widely used in the treatment of heroin addiction. These medications, when properly prescribed, are not intoxicating or sedating and will not interfere with regular routines or activities but can be beneficial in treating the effects of heroin.
The way that medication replacement therapy works is:
- The user stops using heroin and replaces such use with a medication such as Methadone or Suboxone which is prescribed by a doctor.
- The patient’s use of the medication is monitored to ensure proper dosing and effective relief of the presence of any heroin withdrawal symptoms.
- The medications relieve any craving that they user may have for heroin effectively helping the addict to refrain from relapse.
- The patient is able to function normally while taking the medication which means that he or she can receive counseling or therapy, go to work or school, and otherwise be a productive member of society.
Other Pharmacological Approaches to Heroin Addiction Treatment
There are of course various other pharmacological approaches to heroin addiction treatment which have had success in helping people to recover. Buprenorphine and other medications are commonly used in rehab centers that provide heroin addiction treatment. Buprenorphine, especially, is widely used because it has a low likelihood of being abused, does not cause any type of euphoria or “high” and has limited risk of causing overdose. The drug is also proven to reduce the level of physical dependence which means that people who take this medication during heroin addiction treatment are able to stop taking the drug much more easily than when other drugs such as methadone are used.
Suboxone is a combination drug that combines naltrexone and buprenorphine. Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of heroin and other opiates which results in a lack of pleasure or fun when using such drugs. This has been found to help those who are addicted to heroin to become more motivated to stay sober because they know that using heroin will not be fun or pleasurable anyway.
Behavioral Therapy for Heroin Addiction Treatment
The role of behavioral therapy is to help the addict learn how to change poor behaviors that are likely to result in their drug use or relapse. Behavioral therapy is provided in both residential and outpatient heroin addiction treatment programs. There are several behavioral therapy approaches that work well for the treatment of heroin addiction including:
- Contingency management
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Exposure therapy
- Behavioral activation
Typically, an addict will require a period of time to be spent in an inpatient treatment facility before he or she will be ready to work on remaining abstinent from heroin use on their own and have sober living. Inpatient heroin treatment programs is recommended for anyone who has serious physical dependence on heroin and has tried to quit in the past. These treatment programs are typically at least 90 days long and include around-the-clock monitoring and support in an environment that strictly prohibits drug or alcohol use and mostly are medically assisted.
Following time spent in an inpatient program or for those who are suffering from a milder case of heroin addiction, outpatient treatment is a necessary step. During outpatient treatment, the addict will continue to receive support and counseling but he or she will be able to live at home, work or go to school and otherwise have some freedoms outside of treatment. Though this method of treatment can work, it is most effective when the recovering addict first seeks the professional help of an inpatient treatment center prior to moving on to the more relaxed environment that is to be had in outpatient care.
Heroin Addiction & Health Insurance in the US
The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers more than 14,500 specialized heroin treatment centers in the United States alone. Even though a health insurance will provide coverage for addiction to heroin not every heroin treatment centers may be covered by the plan. Three of the biggest states plagued by heroin addiction is West Virginia, South Carolina and South Dakota. Here are the health insurance covered on those states:
West Virginia – Medicare Insurance is accepted on close to 50 treatment clinic in West Virginia. Most of them offer inpatient treatment as well as outpatient treatment. They have 12Step Programs and detox programs that can kick your heroin chemical dependency. Here are some facilities that accept Medicare Health Insurance: Prestera Center – Any County, Appalachian Community Services, Valley Healthcare System, Healthways Inc – Greentree, Southern Highlands Community Medical Health Center
South Carolina – South Carolina accepts Aetna who covers addictions health insurance. When choosing any drug treatment facilities in South Carolina with your Aetna insurance, it is recommended that you call your drug rehab counselor on that treatment facility and ask them about their addiction coverage. Here are some treatment centers that is covered by Aetna: Cornerstone, Axis I Center Of Barnwell, Lradac/the Behavioral Health Center Of The Midlands/wcr, Trinity Behavioral Care, Cherokee County Commission On Alcohol And Drug Abuse
South Dakota – The state of South Dakota accepts Medicaid at 60 or more addiction treatment centers, which all offer treatment programs for heroin addiction rehabilitation. Here are just a few of them in South Dakota: Behavior Management Systems Full Circle, Youth And Family Services, Capital Area Counseling Services Inc, Dakota Counseling Institute Inc Stepping Stones, Anpetu Luta Otipi Comprehensive Substance Abuse Program