The detox process associated with heroin addiction treatment is often the scariest part of recovery for addicts. The withdrawal symptoms experienced by an addicted person when they are without heroin can be intense and even overwhelming in some cases. Those who attempt to undergo heroin detox alone often find that they are incapable of avoiding the temptation to relapse.
Because withdrawal symptoms are difficult and complications can develop, it is recommended that patients attempting heroin detox do so under the medical supervision of a substance abuse treatment professional in a safe and controlled setting.
Medications Approved for Use During Heroin Detox
Because the withdrawal symptoms can be so difficult during the first days and weeks of recovery, much scientific research has been dedicated to exploring treatment options that mitigate these symptoms and bolster the chances that the patient will stick with treatment during this first step.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the following medications are the most commonly prescribed for the purposes of addressing withdrawal symptoms during heroin detox:
- Methadone. A slow-acting opiate, methadone is often prescribed in liquid form to those in recovery from high-dose heroin addiction. A highly restricted medication due to its considerable abuse potential, those who opt to utilize this medication will be required to take the dose in the presence of a medical professional each day, meet with a counselor regularly, and take drug tests. Over time, patients have more freedom through take-home doses as long as they follow the parameters of the program, and they will also receive a lower dose incrementally until they are completely drug-free.
- Buprenorphine. Prescribed in the form of Subutex and in combination with naltrexone in the form of Suboxone, buprenorphine is the only drug that is FDA-approved for nothing but the treatment of opiate addiction. Though the drug is not heavily regulated by federal officials, the potential for abuse of the drug is becoming more and more evident. Patients who have a low-dose heroin addiction may benefit from the many benefits of this heroin detox medication, as long as it is carefully monitored by medical professionals.
- Naltrexone. Rather than replacing heroin at the opioid receptors in the brain like methadone and buprenorphine do, naltrexone works by blocking the action of opiate drugs thus helping patients to fight relapse. Unfortunately, many patients don’t stick with the medication long, so a long-acting injection was recently approved for use that may increase the efficacy of the medication in long-term treatment.
Medication alone is not enough to address heroin addiction. A unique combination of psychotherapeutic and holistic treatment options are recommended on a long-term and intensive basis to help patients explore the “why” question that’s behind their addiction as well as identify triggers for relapse and create actionable plans to overcome these obstacles to recovery.
Far more than just a physical issue, the psychological aspect of heroin addiction can be powerfully gripping. Patients are encouraged to enroll in a residential treatment program for detox and addiction treatment, staying until they feel strong in their ability to avoid relapse and then continuing to undergo outpatient treatment and other aftercare support options until drug and alcohol abuse of all kinds is firmly in the past.
The Oaks at La Paloma: The Journey to Health and Wellness Starts Here
Find out more about our evidence-based heroin addiction treatment program here at The Oaks at La Paloma in Memphis, Tennessee when you reach out to us at the number above. Our admissions coordinators can answer your questions and assist you in helping your loved one into a heroin treatment program that can be life-changing – and life-saving. Call now.