Do most addicts need detox for heroin addiction treatment?

Yes, medically supervised detox is the best and most successful option to help someone addicted to heroin. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, heroin is highly addictive, and heroin users develop a tolerance, which means that they need higher and more frequent doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Someone who is addicted to heroin and stops using the drug abruptly may have severe withdrawal. Within six to twelve hours after using the drug, withdrawal symptoms begin. After one to three days,most of the withdrawal symptoms peak, and after one week, most withdrawal symptoms subside, yet symptoms can persist for weeks or even months.

  • Withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Severe muscle and bone pain
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Severe heroin cravings

Medical detox providers use medication and withdrawal management to help heroin addicts. Heroin is a short-acting opioid, and it takes effect rapidly but also leaves the bloodstream quickly. Medical detox is a specific intervention used to treat heroin addiction. The entirety of the detox process can last five to seven days or even longer, but this depends on the person. The patient is under constant medical supervision, and things like blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and temperature levels are all monitored.

Medical detox should not be considered the only approach to treatment because it will not adequately provide enough counseling or therapy. The next phase of treatment after medical detox is inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. Outpatient programs are effective but may not be the best option for someone with heroin addiction. Outpatient treatment does, however, act as an excellent aftercare support option.

The best treatment option for heroin addiction is long-term residential rehabilitation. Inpatient treatment programs provide more options to help, like traditional and non-traditional approaches and evidence-based counseling. Typically, an addiction assessment determines the length of rehabilitation needed. Counseling methods like cognitive behavioral counseling, motivational interviewing, and group or individual therapy are typically used within long-term treatment centers.

Heroin Addiction Family Intervention

It is challenging to help a loved one struggling with addiction, and most heroin addicts battle their addiction for years before they accept help. However, not every heroin addict is willing to accept treatment, and most require family intervention. People who struggle with addiction are often in denial about their situation and unwilling to seek rehabilitation.

A family intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends with the help of a professional interventionist. The intervention focuses on examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the family and addict. Also, it offers prearranged treatment and a clear treatment plan. A certified interventionist will help guide a family through the whole process. 

Sources-NIDA. “Heroin DrugFacts.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 21 Nov. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin Accessed 18 Dec. 2020.

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