Heroin addiction remains infamous as one of the United States’ most devastating and overwhelming drug problems to beat. However, with the proper combination of individualized rehab strategies, re-learning important life skills and medical detox where necessary, even the toughest opiate dependency can be beat.
The Role of Detox in Heroin Treatment
Medical detox is a procedure during which specific prescription drugs are utilized to alleviate the discomforts of withdrawal from heroin or other heavy drugs/alcohol.
As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
“Not in itself a treatment for addiction, detoxification is a useful step only when it leads into long-term treatment that is either drug-free (residential or outpatient)… The best documented drug-free treatments are the therapeutic community residential programs lasting 3 to 6 months.”
(Read the full NIDA report here.)
Biophysical detoxification is yet another phase of treatment, and involves specific steps to remove residual drug toxins from the body’s various organs and tissues. This, too, is a vital step in the process of recovery, but in itself is not a complete recovery program.
Effective Heroin Rehab Components
As NIDA has stated, detox is a very useful step in the process of recovery. However, other components of rehab for lasting recovery include:
- Longer-termed treatment lengths (3-6 months in length, as specified by NIDA)
- Residential (in-patient) community settings, for full immersion and supervision
- A natural and holistic approach, targeting multiple aspects of physical wellness and nutrition
- Aftercare strategies; goal-based planning for the future of the addict upon his/her return home
- Life skills training or re-training of basic yet vital life skills (such as communication, problem solving, organization, etc.)
- Opportunities for rebuilding relationships or making amends
- Responsibility and personal accountability training
Early Detection – How to Identify a Heroin Abuse Problem
With the advent of a serious and growing prescription drug abuse problem in the United States, many communities are reporting an increasing link between prescription opioids and heroin. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported seeing 205 heroin-related overdose fatalities in 2012, compared with the 145 seen the previous year. Concurrently, prescription painkiller-related deaths decreased as heroin deaths rose.
Across the country where similar patterns are seen, law enforcement and anti-drug groups are pleased to see prescription drug abuse declining in some aspects. However, the boomerang effect of pharmaceutical abusers turning to street drugs is one we must equally be prepared to fight back against.
Some have seen rapid improvements in heroin abuse cases where early detection was present. Identifying a heroin problem in its early stages can mean greater success with treatment in some cases, but the nature of opiate dependency is such that this may not always be the case.
Despite these variables, early detection of an opiate problem is always preferred. As such, if you are uncertain if a loved one is abusing heroin, consider some of the following early signs of opiate use:
- Odd or erratic behavior
- Mood swings
- Emotional instability or non-optimum mental conditions (anxiety, depression, etc.)
- Change in sleeping patterns; lack of sleep
- Open sores on the arms, legs, feet, etc., which may be infected
Heroin users may also display signs of physical dependency and/or withdrawal. The highly addictive drug makes about one fourth of its users into victims of a heroin dependency by its powerful interaction with the opioid receptors in the brain.
For more information on heroin addiction or Narconon treatment for opiate use, please visit www.stopaddiction.com.