Last updated: 11/13/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Watching a loved one struggle with heroin addiction can be a heart-breaking experience. The gradual decline in appearance and vitality coupled with the ongoing denial that a problem exists can frustrate even the most devoted spouse, sibling or friend.
Over time, there’s no denying a loved one’s helplessness as he or she endures repeated failed attempts to stop using. For most addicts, heroin addiction treatment offers the only real chance of breaking an addiction and regaining a normal life. Choosing heroin addiction treatment for a loved one starts with knowing which types of treatment programs will best meet a loved one’s needs.
While users do make the conscious choice to ingest heroin, the effects of the drug create a diseased state within the brain that takes over any sense of volition or will. With ongoing use, heroin’s chemical make-up, in a sense, hijacks brain functions within short periods of time.
According to the National Institutes of Health, heroin, a derivative of morphine, converts back into morphine-like neurotransmitter chemicals once it enters the brain. Neurotransmitters play a central role in the brain’s regulation of pain and pleasure sensations throughout the body.
While input from sensory information normally triggers neurotransmitter secretions, heroin overrides these processes and over time, gradually takes over central nervous system brain functions. Heroin addiction treatment uses a step-by-step approach in helping recovering addicts restore normal brain function and rebuild their lives.
Residential Heroin Addiction Treatment
A heroin addiction can develop within two weeks time when a person uses on a frequent basis. Recovering from heroin addiction takes considerably longer. Residential heroin addiction treatment marks the start of the recovery process.
Not only will your loved one require detox care, but also behavioral therapy treatment to undo the thought patterns and belief systems that develop from heroin addiction. Residential heroin addiction treatment gives loved ones the time and space needed to break the addiction and become engaged in the recovery process.
Outpatient Heroin Addiction Treatment
For people experimenting with heroin or those wanting to avoid a full-blown addiction, 24-hour care may not be necessary at this stage. Outpatient heroin addiction treatment provides needed medical and behavioral treatment care that fits around a person’s existing schedule.
Outpatient treatment works well for people who still have work and/or family obligations to meet. Participants can schedule treatment sessions around their daily routines. People who are highly motivated to stop using may do well in these programs.
Medication Treatment Needs
As long-term heroin abuse causes considerable damage to brain and body functions, heroin addiction treatment programs offer specialized medication therapies to help ease addicts through the detox and recovery process. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medication therapies use synthetic opiate medications, such as methadone and buprenorphine, which help support damaged brain functions.
Medication therapies work to reduce drug cravings while relieving many of the withdrawal symptoms recovering addicts experience in recovery. Since the discomfort associated with drug cravings and withdrawal are the two main reasons why so many people in recovery go back to using heroin, medication therapies can be of great benefit for people with long histories of heroin addiction.