Heroin Rehab & Detox: Treatment, Therapy & Aftercare
If you are addicted to heroin or other opiates, by far the most effective way of getting clean is to attend a heroin rehab clinic. Here, you will receive a variety of treatments allowing you to detox and fully rehabilitate.
At Rehab Recovery, our role is to put you in touch with heroin rehab clinics across the United Kingdom. The vast majority of these heroin rehab clinics are residential. However, we also recommend treatment that mixes both residential and outpatient treatment for maximum effectiveness.
Is Heroin Rehab Really Necessary?
Signs you may require heroin rehab is that you are requiring ever greater doses of heroin in order to experience the desired level of ‘high’. When your brain is exposed to heroin, it will be build up a tolerance to heroin.
This means you require more and more heroin in order to meet your needs. Building up a tolerance to heroin is a positive sign that you are becoming physically dependant on heroin. In time, you may find that you are taking heroin merely to stop the onset of withdrawal symptoms.
Below, we list a number of questions that should help you determine whether attending a heroin rehab clinic in necessary:
- Are you simply unable to stop using heroin even though you wish to?
- Is your heroin addiction significantly impacting your education, career, or home life?
- Are you running into financial trouble due to your heroin addiction?
- Do you steal objects or money in order to bankroll your heroin addiction?
- Do you feel progressively more isolated from friends and loved ones due to your heroin addiction?
If you answered yes to only two of the above questions, this may indicate that you will significantly benefit from attending a heroin rehab clinic. If you take no action, you can only guarantee your situation will continuously worsen. Going to a heroin rehab clinic is perhaps the most effective way of extinguishing your heroin addiction for good.
Consequences Of Leaving Heroin Addiction Untreated
Heroin is an incredibly dangerous and addictive drug. If left untreated, heroin addiction can cause severe problems to one’s health and well being. Just like any other condition, the effects that heroin has on someone differ based on their pre-existing conditions.
Factors such as height and weight, gender, use of other substances, psychiatric conditions, and the quantity and duration of the heroin use will impact how the addiction affects the body. The danger with heroin is that even single or short term usage can cause serious harm to the body.
The most common health effects from heroin are short term, but they are still very detrimental to one's health. These effects include:
- Feelings of euphoria and being in a trance state
- Warm and itchy skin
- Lack of appetite
- Runny nose
- Overly relaxed, slow breathing and heart rate
- Extreme drowsiness
- Lack of clarity in thoughts
These are the common side effects that people experience while they are currently on heroin. With the continued use of heroin, people will develop a physical dependence on the substance and become addicted. When the body becomes physically dependent on a substance, the person will experience tolerance and withdrawal.
With prolonged use over time, the body will develop tolerance, which means that it will require more and more of the substance in order for the person to feel the "high" or euphoria. When this tolerance level is no longer met, the person will experience withdrawal, and it will make the person very sick.
All of the health effects already mentioned can cause harm to the body, but they are not considered to be the severe effects of heroin. There are very severe and dangerous health effects that can occur when someone continues to use heroin.
These effects include:
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary issues
- Kidney disease
- Skin infections
- Damaged veins
- Increased risk of exposure to bloodborne viruses.
Long term heroin use can also cause irreversible changes to occur in the brain. In females, heroin can cause serious reproductive issues and could cause them to become infertile. Using heroin will pregnant and have been shown to cause miscarriages and birth defects.
The symptoms that someone is in danger of overdosing are: shallow breath and difficulty breathing, bluish nails, and lips, weak pulse, disorientation, muscle spasms, tiny pupils, acting drowsy or delirious and going into a coma.
When a heroin user is experiencing any of these symptoms, they need to seek emergency medical attention as soon as possible.
Inpatient Vs Outpatient Heroin Rehab
When you enquire about heroin rehab, you will quickly discover the difference between inpatient and outpatient heroin rehab treatment. At Rehab Recovery, we do not recommend you to undertake rehab on an outpatient basis.
The best form of heroin rehab takes place in a residential rehab clinic. Why? Because residential rehab allows you to move away from your heroin using the environment whilst you undergo essential rehab and detox treatment.
Outpatient heroin treatment does not include residential care. This means you will return to your home following the completion of daily sessions. Furthermore, the vast majority of outpatient treatment providers will advocate a harm reduction strategy, rather than abstinence.
This means you could be offered a drug such as methadone to act as a heroin substitute. Methadone is itself highly addictive, and it is not unknown for individuals to end up mixing both methadone and heroin at the same time. For these reasons, we do not recommend harm reduction programmes.
Both residential and outpatient treatment will nevertheless hold many similarities. For instance, both will offer workshops, therapy and counselling sessions. Therapy sessions typically include group and individual therapy. Both forms of treatment will usually include access to psychiatric care and mental health services.
Many of our partner clinics offering heroin detox services will combine both outpatient and residential treatment. Initially, you will spend around four to six weeks in a residential treatment facility. You will then return home following the completion of your detox programme and your residential rehabilitation programme.
Once you have returned home, you will return to the rehab clinic for weekly aftercare sessions. Aftercare is essentially outpatient in nature. This approach ensures you attain the benefits of residential rehab whilst also receiving all of the benefits offered by outpatient treatment.
Surprisingly, there are relatively few disadvantages when it comes to residential rehab for heroin addiction. Perhaps the biggest drawback is the amount of time you must commit in order to complete a residential heroin rehab programme. However, this time is considered well-spent, since residential treatment is most likely to result in long term abstinence.
The Benefits of Inpatient Heroin Detox
Health care professionals typically recommend inpatient treatment for heroin abuse because there are more benefits than from out-patient treatment. When a patient is in a care facility they, are unable to get access to the drug, and this prevents them from giving in to their temptation of using heroin or other drugs.
The withdrawal symptoms from heroin can often be really severe and harmful, and by being in a facility it allows a person to get the necessary medical treatment to ease the withdrawal symptoms.
The care facilities can also administer detox drugs that can help relieve the pain and suffering that occurs during withdrawal. Detoxing from heroin can cause be very stressful and scary. These types of emotions are very intense, and in a care facility, someone can receive psychiatric and mental help to deal with these emotions.
What Is The Heroin Rehab Process?
Heroin rehab treatment begins with a thorough assessment conducted by a physician. This physician is typically a psychiatrist. At this initial assessment, you will sign a treatment consent form, and the admissions coordinator will explain exactly what will happen during your treatment programme from initial detox through to therapy and aftercare.
The physician will ask you questions about your addiction history. The physician will also discover your general state of physical and mental health.
Following the completion of the initial assessment, your heroin detox programme will begin. The aim of heroin detox is to assist you in overcoming and minimising a range of heroin withdrawal symptoms.
You will be given medication to help achieve this aim. This medication is typically a partial opiate agonist such as Subutex. Due to this fact, heroin detox is completed under strict medical observation. These drugs allow you to manage heroin withdrawal symptoms to a safe and comfortable level.
You will also be given a number of other drugs such as lofexidine which are also known for easing the heroin withdrawal process.
The initial heroin detox is about helping you recover from your heroin addiction from a physical standpoint. However, heroin rehab clinics also provide emotional support and therapy. Your friends and family members will also be given an opportunity to assist in your recovery in the form of family therapy sessions.
Therapy is a very important aspect of overcoming drug addiction. There are many different types of therapy that are used in substance abuse treatment programs. The types of therapy that one might find in a treatment program are:
- Cognitive Behavioural therapy
- Contingency management,
- Rational emotive behaviour therapy
- Dialectical behaviour therapy
- Person centered therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Family therapy
The heroin user will need to work with their medical team to determine the type of therapy that will be the most helpful in preventing them from relapse.
Abstaining from heroin use is undoubtedly a challenging and even scary prospect for most heroin users. Using heroin has likely become part of your existence, and we are sure you have heard many horror stories about the rehab process.
But we assure you that we are here for you every step of the way, and after you leave our rehab facility, you are not alone. We provide 12 months of free aftercare to all of our inpatients which includes access to resources and support, and access to our counsellors and doctors at any time.
Understanding Heroin Withdrawal
The withdrawal symptoms that heroin users experience will be different for each user. These differences are caused by how long and how bad the drug was abused. There are mild, moderate, and severe withdrawal symptoms.
Mild symptoms include:
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Body aches
The moderate symptoms include:
- Hard time concentrating
The severe symptoms include:
- Fast heart rate
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty feeling pleasure
- Hard time breathing
- Drug cravings
These withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous and should not be left untreated by medical professionals.
Why Is A Medical Detox Recommended?
When a heroin addict chooses to go through medical detox, rather than quitting cold turkey, they will be less likely to relapse because they will have the psychological and medical support that they need.
Much of addiction is a psychological process, so once the person has overcome the physical dependence, they will need to work with a therapist to solve the mental issue that may have lead to the development of the addiction.
In a medical facility, a heroin addict can receive detox medications that will slowly wean them off of heroin. This will prevent the user from having extreme and dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
It is dangerous for someone to try to detox alone or quit cold turkey because the withdrawal symptoms are usually too intense for someone to handle without medication. The desire to make the withdrawal symptoms go away usually leads to a relapse, and since the body went without heroin for a period of time the tolerance for the drug would have gone back down.
This is what often causes people to an overdose after a relapse because they take too much heroin to make the withdrawal go away and do not realize that they do not have the same tolerance levels.
Can I Be Administered Medication To Help With Withdrawal?
Buprenorphine, Methadone, Naltrexone, and Suboxone are all common medications that are prescribed to heroin users to help them overcome their addictions. Buprenorphine and Methadone are partial opiates and when an addict takes these drugs it slowly releases the opium into the body.
Over time, the dose of these medications becomes smaller and smaller until they are no longer physically dependent on heroin. Naltrexone is a medication that when taken one can’t feel the effects or high from heroin. Suboxone is a combination of Buprenorphine and Naltrexone.
How Long Does Residential Rehab Last?
Whilst you may complete a heroin detox in as little as 14 days, we generally recommend you commit to at least 28 days. Why? Because undergoing a heroin detox without a period of structured rehabilitation is rarely enough to allow long term recovery to take place.
If you merely spend two weeks within a rehab clinic without undergoing a period of rehabilitation, you are more likely to relapse when you return home. Whilst 28 days is highly recommended, some people will opt to spend an even greater period of time within a heroin rehab clinic. For instance, some will elect to spend 60 or even 90 days within a heroin rehab clinic.
What Happens After Detox?
Following the completion of your heroin detox, you may elect to return home. This is highly inadvisable for the reasons we discussed above. Instead, we recommend you continue with your treatment within the residential rehab facility for at least another two weeks following the completion of your heroin detox.
During this time, you will benefit from addiction therapies. There are many types of addiction therapies, but the vast majority of these therapies are conducted in either group or one-to-one sessions. You will also benefit from workshops. These workshops are conducted in small groups, although sessions will be therapist-led.
Some heroin rehab clinics also offer family therapy sessions. These sessions are highly beneficial because they help repair the damage your heroin addiction has inflicted upon your loved ones. Family therapy sessions also strengthen your support base once you leave residential rehab.
Once you are discharged from a heroin rehab clinic, you will begin to benefit from aftercare therapy sessions. Aftercare sessions offer you a stable support group and a shoulder to fall back on when you return home.
Aftercare sessions will form part of a wider relapse prevention strategy. This strategy provides you with an actionable plan to ensure your recovery is actively managed once you have left the care of the heroin rehab clinic.