What is Heroin Addiction Treatment Like?

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Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/15/2021

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Heroin is a highly addictive drug, one that can devastate a person’s entire life when abused frequently. If you have been abusing heroin, or have a loved one who is, treatment is especially necessary and can mean the difference between life and death.

How Does Heroin Addiction Treatment Work?

Heroin addiction needs to be treated in a professional rehab environment. First, patients normally need to be weaned off their dependence on the drug. According to the National Library of Medicine, opioid withdrawal is not usually life threatening, but it can be extremely painful. Therefore, most patients will be given medication to slowly end their dependence on the drug. In other cases, maintenance can be a more beneficial choice.

In heroin addiction treatment, you will learn ways to avoid further abuse as well as how to recognize and avoid your triggers and how to cope with stress and cravings. Choosing to seek professional treatment will ensure that you will have a safer withdrawal period as well as learn the skills you will need to create a stronger recovery.

What Methods Are Used in Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Those suffering from mental disorders along with heroin addiction require more intensive treatment.

Many different methods may be used in heroin addiction treatment. In most cases, a combination of medications and behavioral therapies are helpful to those attempting to overcome this serious disease.


  • According to the National Institute of Health, “Methadone remains an effective treatment option” for heroin addiction. Some patients are weaned off the drug early in order to go through medically assisted detox, but methadone maintenance is another option for heroin rehab. You can often stay on methadone for as long as necessary in order to manage your symptoms and live your life.
  • Buprenorphine is another medication that can be used in detox or as a management drug. Instead of having to go to a clinic every day like in the case of methadone, those who take buprenorphine can get the drug from a doctor’s office (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).
  • Naltrexone is another medication option for heroin rehab, but because the drug causes severe effects in those who relapse back to opioid abuse, many people refuse to take it.

Behavioral therapies

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps change the way a person sees their heroin abuse. It can also treat comorbid disorders that often occur with drug abuse.
  • Contingency management reestablishes the brain’s relationship with beneficial rewards, as patients who submit clean drug tests receive vouchers and other prizes.
  • Group therapy can give patients the ability to meet other people who are dealing with the same issues they are and to benefit from social support.

Depending on your needs, you and your doctor can create the treatment plan that works best for you.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care

In most cases, inpatient care can be more helpful to those with severe addictions and who are suffering from other issues (comorbid mental disorders, medical problems, etc.). Many people choose methadone maintenance in the form of outpatient treatment, though, so it depends highly on your specific situation. We can also help you determine if inpatient or outpatient care is likely to be better for your recovery.

Do I Need Heroin Rehab?

If you have been abusing heroin consistently, you should absolutely seek help. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, heroin is a highly addictive drug that is considered to be one of the most dangerous substances of abuse, labeled Schedule I. Those who abuse heroin often experience severe psychological and physical health issues, and even one large dose can be fatal. But the more you abuse heroin, the more likely you are to lose control of that abuse. Even if you have only been using the drug for a short time, you should seek treatment in order to safely recover from this issue.