Drug Rehab for Heroin Addiction
Heroin dependency is one of the most pertinent and concerning types of addiction. An incredibly powerful opiate, heroin has become famous for its intense psychological “rush” and its notoriously strong addictive grip. Most often smoked or injected into the veins, heroin takes only a matter of moments to hit the bloodstream – and only a matter of uses to build up opiate tolerance. Marked by harrowing withdrawal symptoms and forceful cravings, heroin rehabilitation is one of the most feared — and misunderstood – among addiction recovery processes.
When in-depth, holistic treatment combines targeted therapies with state-of-the-art detoxification methods, therapeutic programs can help guide heroin addicts into a lifetime of sobriety. Quality heroin addiction rehabilitation centers have also been a commodity in the light of the ongoing opioid epidemic. 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. Not only has this number been climbing, this figure doesn’t 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 rehab can help individuals who find themselves physiologically dependent on heroin to regain their mental and physical well-being. Heroin rehab can allow them to repair relationships, regain health, and begin receiving the many opportunities they’ve lost to heroin addiction.
Finding the right heroin rehab facility or program is the first step toward recovery from heroin addiction. It may seem scary, but recovery from heroin addiction is possible when treatment is provided and a strong sober support system is in place.
- How does heroin rehab work?
- Are there medications used to treat heroin addiction?
- Will a health insurance plan cover the cost of heroin rehab?
- Does heroin rehab actually work?
How Heroin Rehab Works
Overcoming an addiction to heroin doesn’t happen overnight, and there are many paths to get there. In fact, heroin addiction rehabilitation is a process that can be broken into a series of distinct yet complementary steps. The majority of individuals who receive treatment at heroin addiction rehabs will complete some combination of the following:
The first step in heroin rehab is detoxification. Detox 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. During rehabilitation, peer support plays an integral role in recovery. After relationships that have been often nonexistent, drug-fueled or dysfunctional at best, patients can experience positive and accountable relationships in the moderated atmosphere of rehabilitation programs. 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 equally as important to acclimating back into the real work as prior treatment modalities and 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.
Throughout the aftercare process, patients may build a foundation for sober living through acquisition of life skills. Anger and stress management courses, conflict resolution training, communication workshops, time management and organization instruction, and problem-solving skills coaching allow recovering heroin addicts to learn the survival skills they will need to create productive and rewarding lives after treatment.
What Medications Are Used to Treat Heroin Addiction?
Fortunately, detoxing from heroin is not considered as dangerous and life-threatening when detoxing from alternate substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepines. However, when deemed necessary, patients may require the aid of certain medications as part of the recovery process. Because heroin withdrawal symptoms can be intense, many people will use the drug to relieve their pain even if they are serious about quitting. A medically supervised detox helps lessen withdrawal symptoms, which is often accomplished with the help of medication.
Some medications commonly prescribed in the process of heroin rehab can include:
Buprenorphine – As an opioid, buprenorphine interacts with the same receptors as heroin, though its effects are limited. This helps with withdrawal and cravings.
Methadone – Although stronger than buprenorphine, methadone essentially works in the same way. Methadone use is controversial because it can build up in the body if taken too often, making overdose more likely; it is also potentially addictive itself. The use of methadone is typically limited to replacement and maintenance therapy programs. Methadone mitigates withdrawal by behaving in the brain in a very similar manner as opioids, but without the intense euphoria and intoxication as heroin or similar drugs.
Naltrexone – Also used in treating alcoholism, naltrexone blocks opioid receptors. Naltrexone is commonly used throughout the entire treatment process. This drug reduces cravings and prevents heroin from having an effect when taken.
Suboxone – This is a combination of buprenorphine and naltrexone. This combination not only relieves withdrawal pain, but also inhibits the effects of heroin. This medication can also 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.
Does Insurance Cover Heroin Addiction Treatment?
Historically, individuals who required addiction treatment were forced to fund treatment out of their own pockets, but fortunately 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.
What If I Don’t Have Insurance?
In cases where an individual may not have health coverage, there are still plenty of options to fund treatment for heroin rehab. Select facilities may offer subsidized or need-based pricing with the ability for patients to pay for treatment in monthly installments. There are even institutions that offer financing options meant specifically for addiction treatment. While a life doesn’t have a price tag, individuals who are in need of treatment for heroin addiction have several options available to make heroin rehab affordable and accessible.
Heroin has notoriously high relapse rates, even when treatment is sought. In fact, The Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Studies (DATOS) five-year study conducted in 1993 found that among more than 2,100 heroin addicts between the ages of 21 and 74, an astonishing 82 percent experienced relapse in the first five years following professional treatment for heroin addiction. In response to these realities, heroin treatment facilities now provide intensive relapse prevention measures integrated into treatment programs. Aftercare treatment methods, transitional planning and alumni events provide ongoing support for heroin addicts who graduate opiate recovery programs to ensure against a return to heroin usage.
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 rehab may 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 additionally minimize 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 make clinical addiction treatment one of the most valuable resources for rehabilitation.
Because heroin is often used by individuals self-medicating anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, most opiate rehabilitation programs include dual diagnosis support as part of their treatment mainstay. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 53 percent of those who engage in drug abuse have at least a single serious mental health condition. Combining medication dispensation with expansive clinical and creative therapies guided by professional therapists, dual diagnosis facilities can treat both heroin addiction – and underlying mental health disorders – at the same time.
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, joint and limb discomfort, anxiety, lethargy, and flu-like symptoms.
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.
Principles of Successful Programs
Heroin treatment programs can vary widely, but the underlying principals of successful programs are often the same. They can be summed up in these statements:
- Addiction is a chronic disease that changes the way the brain works.
- Therapies must be customized to meet the needs of each individual.
- The treatment plan should change over time, as the addict’s needs change.
- The treatments provided should focus on the entire person, not just the person’s addiction. Medical problems such as HIV/AIDS must also be addressed.
- Addicts must have easy access to treatment.
- People with addiction often have other mental illnesses that must also be addressed.
- Counseling can help.
- Treatment doesn’t need to be voluntary in order to be effective.
- Monitoring of drug use is important, as relapses may occur.
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.
At Sober Nation, the rehab’s offered for heroin addiction closely follow these guidelines. Our purpose is to provide resources to help people struggling with addiction and mental illness, and our partnering facilities customize their plans to meet the needs of each individual.