Heroin Addiction Treatment & Rehab

Treating a heroin addiction requires understanding the nature of the dependency and the options for recovery. A heroin dependence is detrimental to your professional life, your relationships, and your health. Our guide to heroin addiction provides the details concerning treatment and the features of an at-home or private rehab based on individual needs.

Understanding Heroin Addiction

A heroin addiction is characterised by the frequent and prolonged use of the substance resulting in withdrawal symptoms. Heroin is an opioid that causes changes in brain function and behaviour with constant use (Healthline). It is snorted, injected, or smoked. Individuals who have developed an addiction to heroin will feel overwhelmed by cravings when the substance is not used. It includes an inability to quit the substance despite negative consequences or failed attempts to stop using on your own. An addiction can develop owing to trauma, genetics, frequent exposure, and pre-existing mental conditions.

Healthline lists the following signs of a heroin dependence:

  • Memory lapses
  • Agitation
  • Mood changes
  • Decreased pain sensations
  • Difficult or slurred speech
  • Chronic runny nose (if snorted).

In prolonged cases of heroin dependence individuals can suffer a change in appearance such as rapid weight loss, difficulty at work, and impulsive or risky behaviours.

Where an addiction has developed, a heroin detox in conjunction with therapy, are recommended.

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Why Heroin Addiction Treatment is Necessary

A heroin addiction causes changes in mental health and general behaviour. Ongoing use can cause physical and emotional complications that negatively impact professional, social, and personal life.
The influence of heroin on individual health will depend on several factors including:

  • Health status prior to drug use
  • The amount of drug used
  • The frequency of drug use
  • The use of other substances such as alcohol or prescription medication.

Complications from heroin usage include heart disease, liver disease, poor stress management, constipation, and kidney ailments. The dangers of injecting heroin can lead to collapsed veins, and the high risk of transmitting diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV (American Addiction Centers).

Treat the Addiction, not the Heroin!

The reputation of heroin as one of the most addictive illicit drugs has left many to criticise the drug as responsible for individual health risks rather than the user. An addiction is not a spontaneous behaviour. It can be attributed to multiple factors including pre-existing medical conditions and past trauma as a means of coping. All addictions have similar signs and symptoms. If the drug of choice were not heroin, it would be another substance or addiction, commonly referred to as a cross addiction. An addiction is not solely owed to the drug itself. While certain types of substances are more addictive than others, it is the underlying cause for symptoms that must be addressed.

While the general rate for relapse associated with a substance dependence is up to 60%, with heroin, the rate of relapse is as high as 90% (The Recovery Village).

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The Health Benefits of Quitting Heroin

When heroin is used over a prolonged period, it can cause permanent pulmonary damage and physiological changes in the brain. There is also a risk of disease transmission and such as HIV.

The health benefits of quitting heroin could save your life. Individuals will notice mental clarity and the ability to keep up with daily tasks (drugabuse.gov). Improved memory, hormone balance, and the ability to regulate behaviour and decision making are achieved when quitting the use of heroin. Along with the physical and the mental health benefits of quitting heroin, you could prevent placing your life at risk.

Don’t be afraid to admit you have a problem

Many are too afraid or embarrassed to admit to having an addiction because of its stigma. A drug dependence is associated with reckless behaviour, poor socio-economic status, a lack of responsibility, and criminal activity. This results in fewer individuals seeking the treatment they need.

It is important to understand that an addiction cannot disappear by itself. Ignoring the problem will simply create bigger problems at the end of the day. If you are battling a heroin addiction, we encourage you to face up to the problem now to prevent the bigger problem that could occur later. The first step in the process of recovery is to admit that a problem exists.

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    Choosing a Treatment Option

    A necessary part of recovery is to choose a treatment programme that works for your situation.

    We explore the differences between private rehabilitation and outpatient services to help you find the therapeutic strategy that works with your needs.

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    Private Rehab

    A private rehab or residential rehab is an addiction treatment facility whereby individuals remain at the facility for a period of 28 days up to 90 days.

    It involves a medically assisted heroin detox and access to therapy as part of a residential rehab programme.

    How does Private Rehab Work?

    When you enter into a residential treatment centre, you will be evaluated by a medical professional. The purpose of a medical evaluation is to determine the nature of your addiction and whether any pre-existing mental conditions are present. An assessment is followed by a heroin detox. The detox requires professional medical attention and supervision. During this period, individuals will reduce or quit the use of heroin. Medication may be prescribed to ease the symptoms of detox and withdrawal.

    Heroin causes changes in the brain’s chemical structure. The body goes through a period of adjustment when heroin is no longer used. Withdrawal symptoms are managed in a residential rehab where individuals commit to remaining at the centre for the duration of treatment. This is most beneficial as therapy is immediately accessible. One will refrain from participating in the outside world and focus exclusively on the process of rehabilitation.

    A major benefit of private rehab is access to therapy and aftercare. Programmes typically last between 28 to 90 days. Upon completion, individuals are encouraged to pursue independent therapy and the support of an experienced practitioner to avoid relapse and best integrate into their daily lifestyle.

    Choosing a Rehab Centre

    When you make the decision to seek treatment, the next step is to choose a service or programme to best suit your needs.

    The CQC is a simple resource providing ratings for select treatment centres. You can view each service according to its therapeutic model, range of services, and overall professionalism.

    It is important to note, that different treatment centres use different therapeutic approaches. There are some services that offer a 12 step programme such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The 12 step is the most well-known and requires that individuals develop their faith and spiritual foundation to overcome an addiction. A non-12 step programme is the alternative. This includes self empowerment and self responsibility for a substance addiction (known as the Strengths Model).

    All programmes will teach individuals how to cope with emotions, attitudes, and life’s challenges without using or relying on a substance such as heroin.

    If you are unsure of the processes involved and need to choose the right rehab for your needs, then we encourage you to contact us. Our professionals are ready to help you select a treatment centre that will make a beneficial difference in your journey.

    The Benefits of Private Rehab

    A private rehab offers the following benefits:

    • One-on-one therapy with a licensed counsellor
    • Support through the process of a detox and withdrawal symptoms
    • Living at the centre prevents access to the substance
    • Therapy is attended daily and teaches you how to cope and improve your circumstances.

    a group therapy session

    Private Counselling

    Private counselling can be sought as an outpatient service. Clients who are struggling with a heroin dependence will visit a licensed and an experienced therapist in matters of addiction. Sessions are sought daily or a few times a week. An experienced practitioner will use relevant therapeutic models such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or psychoanalysis to determine the reason for drug use and dependence.

    The Benefits of Private Counselling

    • Private counselling encourages one-on-one time with a professional and licensed therapist
    • Programmes are tailored to your needs and you determine the pace and direction for therapy
    • It is flexible and you can schedule your sessions according to your needs.

    Paying for Treatment

    When you attend an inpatient rehabilitation, a deposit is required upon entry into the facility. The purpose is to secure your spot and to prepare the necessary resources for the facilitation of rehabilitation. Payment is made in instalments, with the final amount due prior to leaving therapy.

    If you wish to pursue therapy but cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs, some private insurance providers will cover private addiction treatment.

    Private therapy by an independent psychologist or psychiatrist will be determined per session. You are looking at an average of £120 – £180 per session with a private counsellor.

    Free Outpatient Services

    In the UK, you can access a free outpatient services for a heroin addiction. By contacting the NHS and similar charity websites (We Are With You), you can apply for entry into the relevant programme. A free or low cost rehab service may include a waiting list. You can also speak to your GP about your addiction and receive a referral letter to reduce the waiting period.

    While such services provide a cost effective alternative, it does not offer the private and highly attentive services you would receive in a residential setting. The number of patients per therapist is greater in a free or low-cost rehab compared to a private service.

    Advice on Quitting Heroin

    The decision to quit heroin is a brave one. We look at the following steps to help you with a heroin addiction. Before you do anything, we strongly recommend that you seek the advice and support of a GP or medical professional who understands opiate addiction. Giving up heroin alone can be very difficult, so please give us a call if you have any questions.

    Detox alone is not enough

    A heroin detox is a necessary part of the recovery process. It must be accompanied by regular therapy to treat the underlying causes of heroin addiction.

    Heroin Substitutes

    Many who are addicted to heroin replace the drug with another substance such as morphine. Unfortunately, this simply leaves one trapped in the vicious cycle of addiction. Replacing one addictive substance with another is not the answer. Detoxing and refraining from the use of opiates in combination with therapy will yield the best results (drugAbuse.gov).

    Take your recovery seriously

    Develop a positive and a powerful attitude for change. Your ideas about therapy and your motivation for the process will have a major influence on the outcome.

    Remove heroin paraphernalia from the home

    To avoid temptation upon returning home from therapy, ask a friend or family member to remove all drug paraphernalia from the home.

    Find a new focus

    Find something that brings you joy, meaningfulness, and fulfilment. A new hobby, a new group of friends, and positive activities such as exercise to replace old habits will help you reach success.

    Support Groups are Useful

    Finding a support group is an immense help in the recovery process. A support group such as Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous encourage sharing of stories and unconditional support. Attending a group session helps you learn that you are not alone.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    You may have a lot of questions about treatment for heroin addiction. If you are unable to find the answer below please give us a call and speak to one of our addiction specialists today.
    How do I help someone struggling with heroin addiction?
    The best way to help someone with a heroin addiction is to support them with love and care. Be open and honest about your concerns for their well-being but without being forceful or threatening. Help them realise the impact of the addiction on their health, work and personal lives.
    How long should I seek treatment for Heroin?
    The treatment period for heroin will depend on individual factors. Some people attend therapy for months while others for decades. It all depends on the type of treatment sought and the available support to remind you of remaining abstinent.
    What is the best treatment for heroin addiction?
    A heroin addiction is best treated in a private rehabilitation or residential treatment. Here, individuals have access to regular monitoring, therapy, support groups, and aftercare to prevent relapse and to encourage healthier, adaptive coping strategies.
    Can you force someone into rehab?
    No, it is never a good idea to force someone into attending rehab. This reduces the likelihood of successful completion and creates animosity. The most successful treatments are based on those who are fully committed to the programme and want to change.

    Jason Sheirs
    Author / Jason Shiers / Dip. Psych MBACP
    Jason Shiers is a Certified Transformative Coach & Certified Psychotherapist who is a specialist in addiction, trauma and eating disorders. He has been working in the field of addiction for 25 years now.