Inpatient treatment is usually recommended for heroin addiction; however, inpatient treatment is not always possible. It happens on occasion that someone with a heroin addiction may still be maintaining employment. In a case such as this, outpatient treatment can be beneficial while they continue working. Medications can be prescribed by medical professionals to help ease the discomfort from the withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of Heroin Addiction
Heroin produces a feeling of relaxation, well-being, and euphoria. Heroin blocks the brain’s ability to perceive pain. Once a person uses heroin, they experience a “rush” which is followed by a warm flush of the skin, a dry mouth, and a feeling that the extremities are extremely heavy. Sometimes after the first rush, the user may experience nausea, vomiting, and severe itching. Short-term side effects include shallow breathing and slowed mental functioning.
Long-term heroin use results in serious side effects such as:
- Chronic pneumonia or other pulmonary diseases
- Bacterial infections
- Infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B and C
- Blood clots or dead tissue as a result of collapsed veins
- Heart problems
- Liver disease
Heroin addicts never know what strength of heroin they are getting because of not knowing what substance has been added to it or how much; therefore, they are constantly at risk of overdose and death. They never know if they are going to get pure heroin. Heroin addiction is a highly severe affliction and needs professional medical attention from specialists in the field of opiate detox and withdrawal.
Outpatient Treatment with Medications
Addicts can go through withdrawal and detoxification from heroin through outpatient treatment. Medical physicians will prescribe medications which will help lessen the cravings and the withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin addiction.
One of the most effective drugs and one which has been used the longest is Methadone. There are methadone clinics set up around the United States to administer methadone which has been prescribed by a physician to help the addict through the initial withdrawal and cravings for the heroin. The only place to receive methadone is at approved outpatient treatment facilities. The only drawback with methadone is that it can be addictive if not used as directed. One should always consider the chance of addiction before going on a methadone program.
Buprenorphine (Subutex) relieves the cravings without producing the “high” like other opioids. Suboxone is a drug which combines buprenorphine and naloxone. The naloxone is included to prevent attempts to get high by injecting the Suboxone. If an addict injects Suboxone in an effort to get high, the naloxone will induce withdrawal symptoms. Taking this drug orally does not produce this side effect. The FDA has now approved two generic forms of Suboxone which make it more affordable and thus, available to more people.
Outpatient Treatment without Medications
There are many programs available in outpatient treatment which have been proven to be very successful. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of these programs. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, the patient learns to modify their behaviors in relation to drug use. They learn ways to deal with life’s stressors and other day-to-day situations without the use of substances.
Outpatient treatment is the same as inpatient treatment in the fact that they also design a program to fit the needs and preferences of each patient. Through one-on-one counseling, you can reveal the reasons for your addiction. You will also learn what your triggers are and how to avoid them, so you won’t be tempted to use heroin. Outpatient treatment also includes group counseling where you meet with your peers and discuss your experiences and struggles with addiction. Through group counseling, you can offer encouragement and support to one another. Many times life-long friendships develop from group counseling.
Outpatient treatment usually entails sessions at least three days a week at two to four hours each and can be scheduled around your work or school responsibilities. You can choose your preferred method of treatment, with or without medication. Your outpatient treatment should include a support system that you can call if necessary 24 hours a day.
Relapse prevention is a necessity for you to learn during your treatment program. Maintain your recovery by attending counseling and group meetings after completing your initial treatment program for heroin addiction. Get the help you need to end your heroin addiction and live a life of sobriety in recovery.