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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

Drug Rehab for Heroin Addiction

While there are many forms of addiction, heroin addiction is surely one of the most pertinent and concerning, and even more so in light of the recent opioid epidemic that has made quality heroin addiction rehabilitation centers such a commodity. According to recent reports, the number of annual deaths from heroin overdose has reached a record-setting high, soaring past 50,000 individual lives lost over the course of a single one-year period. And not only has this number been climbing, it’s also worth noting that this figure doesn’t even take into consideration the many overdose deaths that are being caused by other opioids, particularly prescription painkillers.

In communities large and small across the United States, countless families have been torn apart by the heroin addiction outbreak. Fortunately, heroin addiction rehabs can help individuals who find themselves physiologically dependent on heroin to regain their mental and physical well-being, allowing them to repair their relationships and begin regaining the many opportunities they’ve lost to heroin addiction. But how does heroin rehab work? Are there medications involved in recovery from heroin addiction? Will insurance cover heroin addiction treatment? And, perhaps most importantly, does heroin addiction treatment actually work?

How Heroin Rehab Works

Much like the development of the actual addiction, overcome an addiction to heroin doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, heroin addiction rehabilitation is a process that can be broken into a series of distinct yet complementary steps. Furthermore, not every individual who overcomes an addiction to heroin will do so in the same way. There are actually numerous ways to overcome heroin addiction, but the majority of individuals who receive treatment at heroin addiction rehabs will complete some combination of the following:

  • Detoxification
  • Inpatient Treatment
  • Outpatient Treatment
  • Aftercare
  • Recovery/Support Groups

The first step in overcoming an addiction to heroin — detoxification — is all about addressing the physical components of the addiction. Of course, heroin addiction affects virtually all aspects of self, from a person’s physical health and psychology to his or her relationships and sense of spiritual fulfillment; however, before an individual can begin participating in psychotherapy and other forms of treatment, it’s essential to address the physiological aspects of heroin dependency so that he or she isn’t dealing with withdrawal symptoms and counseling at the same time.

For heroin addiction, detoxification typically takes place for a period of three to five days although it’s not uncommon for individuals to need as much as a week. During this time, the individual is encouraged to relax while a team of detox technicians monitor him or her to ensure comfort and safety throughout the detoxification process. Further, the length of detoxification treatment is decided on a case-by-case basis and depends on such factors as how long an individual has been suffering from heroin addiction, the severity of his or her daily heroin habit, and whether there have been prior attempts at treatment and sobriety.

Once detoxification is complete, many patients will proceed to inpatient treatment as the next phase of heroin addiction rehab. With inpatient care, the patient will reside on-site within the facility for the duration of treatment, which typically lasts for a minimum of four weeks (28 days) or up to three months (90 days); however, longer-term residential style programs are also a possibility, lasting for six months or more and dependent on the needs of the patient. Throughout inpatient care, the individual will participate in a combination of individual and group counseling sessions and possibly some other forms of treatment, including holistic and alternative therapies. The ultimate goal is to uncover the root causes of a patient’s heroin addiction so as to alleviate those causes, help the patient achieve sobriety, and teach the patient how to maintain that newfound sobriety for the long-term.

Outpatient treatment can be used in lieu of inpatient care or as a follow-up to an inpatient program. In an outpatient program, the patient continues to live at home or in some type of transitional living facility while commuting to a treatment facility on designated days. There’s some variation in terms of the curriculum intensity for outpatient programs with intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization programs being types of outpatient treatment that offer a more inpatient-like level of treatment.

Beyond inpatient and outpatient care, many patients who complete treatment will require some form of aftercare. In the simplest of terms, aftercare is a form of sustained support that extends beyond the completion of heroin addiction rehab. An aftercare program can be an important resource for individuals who may still be adjusting to sobriety while also seeking employment, stable living arrangements, and some type of peer support group in which to network with other individuals in recovery.

What Medications Are Used to Treat Heroin Addiction?

When it comes to recovery, the specific resources needed to treat an addiction can vary to a degree from one substance to another. Due to the potential dangers that can result from ceasing one’s intake of a substance abruptly, certain forms of addiction require the use of medications to aid in detoxification and overall rehabilitation. Fortunately, heroin dependency is not considered a dangerous form of addiction like alcoholism and benzodiazepine addiction.

However, when deemed necessary, patients may require the aid of certain medications as part of the recovery process. This would be most likely during the detoxification stage of recovery if an individual begins to experience intense withdrawal symptoms. Muscle relaxants and mild benzodiazepines may offer some relief to symptoms of severe withdrawal. Alternately, Suboxone — a medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone — is a common medicinal aid during the process of heroin addiction rehab; this medication can mitigate withdrawal as it behaves quite similarly to heroin and other opioids in the brain, but with the key difference that it doesn’t offer the intoxicating effects of the opioids that Suboxone is designed to replace.

Another medication that is occasionally used as part of heroin addiction rehab is methadone. Although its use is most frequently limited to replacement and maintenance therapy programs, methadone is comparable to Suboxone in that it mitigates withdrawal by behaving in the brain in a very similar manner as opioids, but without the intense euphoria and intoxication as heroin and other opioids.

Does Heroin Rehab Actually Work?                                    

Of all the methods for recovering from heroin addiction, a heroin addiction rehab is certainly the most effective and offers the highest chances for an individual to achieve lasting sobriety. The reason that heroin addiction rehab is so effective is because the programs offered at rehabilitation centers are capable of addressing the many components of heroin addiction.

Every individual who becomes addicted to heroin develops his or her addiction due to unique circumstances; however, heroin addiction rehabs offer programming with strong foundations of psychotherapy and counseling. Through psychotherapy and counseling, patients and therapists can work together to better understand what led an individual to become addicted to heroin, and develop strategies for overcoming those factors and minimizing the possibility for heroin relapse in the future. For this reason, the counseling that’s offered as part of heroin addiction rehab is one of the features that makes clinical addiction treatment one of the most valuable resources for rehabilitation.

As mentioned above, detoxification is the initial phase of treatment during which time a patient overcomes the physical and physiological aspects of addiction. When someone who’s addicted to heroin abruptly stops using heroin, he or she will experience a number a withdrawal symptoms, including sweating, physical discomfort in the joints and limbs, anxiety, depression, lethargy, and a variety of flu-like symptoms; however, many of these symptoms can be mitigated through detox treatment. For this reason, detoxification is an extremely important part of the recovery process, especially since patients would find themselves unable to focus or concentrate on counseling and other therapies if they hadn’t completed detoxification and were, therefore, experiencing withdrawal symptoms. In other words, completing an initial heroin detox is what ensures that a patient isn’t suffering from withdrawal symptoms while participating in psychotherapy, group treatment, and other therapeutic techniques.

Perhaps most importantly, heroin addiction rehab offers a number of resources that individuals wouldn’t be able to utilize if attempting recovery on their own. In addition to the counseling and detoxification that are often offered as part of heroin addiction rehab, patients have the support of staff members and even peers who are completing treatment alongside them. Much like how one’s social circumstances can be a major contributor to the development of an addiction, being in an environment that’s supportive of and conducive to recovery can exponentially increase a patient’s chances of achieving lasting success in recovery.

Does Insurance Cover Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Historically, individuals who required addiction treatment were forced to fund treatment out of their own pockets, but that’s no longer the case. With the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2011, substance abuse treatment was officially deemed essential coverage for most private and government health insurance plans. As such, individuals who are covered by government health plans like Medicaid and Medicare, as well as many individuals who have health insurance through their employers or their own third-party providers, are likely eligible to have the cost of heroin addiction rehab covered by their health insurance plans.

In instances where one’s health coverage doesn’t include substance abuse treatment, most facilities offer a number of flexible payment options, including subsidized and sliding-scale payment adjustments, or they can put individuals in contact with financial institutions that offer financing specifically for substance abuse treatment.