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Getting Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin Treatment: Helping a User Help Themselves

Fortunately for those heroin users and their families there are a number of ways to help overcome the addition that this illegal drug can have.  Most are fearful of getting through their addiction because heroin has some of the hardest withdrawal symptoms to deal with, aside from alcohol and barbiturates. However, if you are seeking to assist your loved on through the drug rehabilitation process it is a good idea to seek the professional assistance of a drug counselor or therapist.  Depending on the user there are various methods of treatment that can be considered while under the care of a professional.

Medications to Help with Heroin Withdrawal

It is important to understand that while these medications can help ease the difficulty of withdrawals, they are not effective long-term at helping to eliminate the addiction.

  • Buprenorphine- Buprenorphine is a relatively new means to help a heroin user through their withdrawals. It does not pose a risk for overdose and will not create a dependency for the patient. Under the care of a physician it has been shown to help opiate-addicted individuals deal with their symptoms and find further treatment options. However, there are some addicts who do not respond to buprenorphine and ultimately may have to turn to methadone.
  • Methadone- Because methadone does carry the opiate medication within it the body of a user reacts to it similarly, so symptoms of a withdrawal are not felt. With methadone treatment typically there are certain programs, whether individualized or group that must be attended, as well as psychological attention from physicians and clinicians is necessary. Methadone is the most common treatment for heroin withdrawal patients.
  • Naltrexone- Naltrexone is taken for those patients who have not been on opiates for several days as a means to keep them from bonding to receptors so the effects of the drug is no felt.  While it is an approved means to treat methadone patients it is not often that patients can comply with this treatment, making it rarely used by clinicians.

Behavioral Treatments for Heroin Users

As previously stated, heroin users can benefit from the medications approved to help treat their symptoms initially, however it is not a long-term assurance that the dependency has subsided. For that reason drug rehabilitation specialists will often recommend that medications be coupled with behavioral treatment therapies to help reduce the need later on to return to reuse.

Clinicians will often recommend group counseling or contingency management as a means to help patients understand that they can lead a healthy and full life without the need for drugs. Cognitive-behavioral therapy will also help to work with the patient to understand the destructive behavior that is drug abuse and to create the coping skills that are necessary to stay away from them in the long run.

If your family member is a heroin addict there are plenty of treatment options that a drug counselor and physician can use to help in order to get them the treatment that they need.