When you develop an addiction to this illicit opioid, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line because you can still get help from your loved ones and medical personnel. Luckily, the first step towards the treatment of heroin addiction will be the awareness of the person that he is addicted to it.
Alongside this, you or your addicted loved one must undergo intervention to enhance your awareness of this mental disorder, and accept that you need medical assistance to recover. In this read, we are going to talk about the various treatments and therapies applicable to treating heroin addiction.
What are the health complications of Heroin Addiction?
Heroin is one of the most abused substances among teens and adults in the U.S., where around 15,000 people died in 2018 due to overdose with this substance. So far, the average death rate due to overdose with this illicit drug is at 5 per 100,000 U.S. citizens.
Below are some of the notable health consequences of heroin addiction:
- Respiratory illnesses (e.g. tuberculosis and pneumonia): This illicit drug depresses your lungs and alters its normal function, which leads to different lung complications. Severe depression of your respiratory system can lead to death.
- Insomnia: Heroin is an upper since it provides a rush into your system, giving you a euphoric pleasurable feeling. With that, your body craves that sensation, so you get a continuous highness which makes it difficult for you to sleep.
- Disruption of the reproductive system: Heroin causes imbalances in your hormones which also leads to erectile dysfunction (for men) and irregular menstrual flow (for women).
- Damaged nasal cavity: If you are snorting heroin, then there’s a huge risk that your nasal tissues are damaged.
- Inflammation and bacterial infection of veins: If you are injecting heroin into your system, then you are at risk of damaging your veins and capillaries. Also, you are at risk for sexually-transmitted diseases (e.g. HIV, Hepatitis B, and C) due to the sharing of needles. Furthermore, this substance can damage soft tissues and heart valves, which leads to serious heart problems.
- Damaged kidney and liver: There are several instances where this illicit substance is mixed with other harmful compounds, which are not filtered by your kidney and liver. With that, it leaves harmful residues in those organs which leads to serious damages.
- Joint inflammation: The residues of heroin also causes adverse reactions to your immune system, which leads to arthritis and rheumatism.
Indeed, heroin addiction can drastically damage your body, especially if you are doing it for a long time. If you want to recover from this unhealthy behavior and mental disease, then talk to your trusted addiction specialist today.
What Are the Available Treatments for Heroin Addiction?
There’s no all-in-one treatment for heroin addiction, yet there are plenty of available options in the field. Technically, you will be given a customized treatment program from a doctor or addiction specialist to address heroin addiction and its withdrawal effects.
It will be a combination of medication and behavioral therapy since heroin addiction both affects your physical and behavioral aspects. Below are the two main classifications for treating an overdose with this illicit drug.
- Pharmacological treatments: You will be given prescribed medicines that will help you abstain from consuming this drug and alleviate its withdrawal symptoms and side effects. We cannot emphasize more that you need to follow your doctor’s prescription to avoid self-medication and overdose with another substance.
- Behavioral therapies: Heroin addiction will also destroy your positive behavior, the main reason why you are having a difficult time avoiding the substance and for your unhealthy communication with your family and friends. When you undergo rehab, you will be given the right behavioral therapies to reinforce discipline and a positive attitude towards sobriety.
What are the Pharmacological Treatments for Heroin Addiction?
Medication is a vital part of your recovery since it helps alleviate the painful sensations of withdrawal effects and repair any physical damages to your body. For the medication of heroin addiction, we can have three classifications for it:
- Agonist: Medicines that activate your opioid receptors but with the very least harm to your body.
- Partial agonist: It still activates your opioid receptors (mimicking the effect of heroin) but with very minimal side effects.
- Antagonist: It blocks your opioid receptors and inhibits the addicting euphoric feeling induced by heroin.
Furthermore, here are the specific medicines that are given to patients suffering from heroin addiction:
- Lofexidine: It’s an FDA-approved drug used to ease painful withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking heroin or any opioid substances.
- Methadone: It’s an opioid agonist that helps you reduce your craving for using heroin and hinders its addictive effect. You can see it in different forms like in syrup, powder, or diskette form. Also, its function in pain alleviation as well.
- Buprenorphine: It’s one of the most common medicines used for treating heroin addiction and is classified as a partial agonist drug. With that, it induces parallel effects with heroin but at very minimal effects that are safe to you. Below are specific medicinal impacts of buprenorphine:
- Decreases the risk for relapse
- Reduces your addiction to heroin and other opioids
- Alleviates withdrawal symptoms
- Prevents overdose with any opioid drugs
- Naltrexone: You can use this medicine for alcoholism and opioid use disorder. When using this drug for treating heroin addiction, it must be accompanied by behavioral therapies and counseling. Naltrexone is classified as an antagonist, so it blocks the addictive effects of opioids (e.g. heroin, codeine, and morphine). Moreover, it’s not an opioid and addictive medicine.
What Are the Behavioral Therapies for the Treatment of Heroin Addiction?
All those medications mentioned above must be assisted with behavioral therapies to create a holistic impact on you or an addicted loved one. Heroin addiction will also corrupt your positive attitude and habits, so you need to correct them to achieve long-term sobriety.
Here are some of the proven and tested behavioral therapies for heroin addiction:
Contingency Management (CM)
In this process, you will receive a tangible prize for every urine sample you give that passes the drug test. Under this contingency management (CM), there are two methods which are further discussed below:
- Voucher-based reinforcement (VBR): You will be given a voucher with a monetary value for every successful drug test you pass while undergoing treatment. You can use this voucher in exchange for food, movie watching, massage, and other recreational activities that help you recover.
- Prize Incentives CM: You will get a chance to win cash ($1-$100) for every drug test you pass while undergoing treatment. Likewise, there will be corresponding cash prizes given for every counseling and therapy you attend.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CRB)
Cognitive behavioral therapy’s main goal is to help you develop self-control when facing risk factors and triggers. The counselor will help you devise a positive coping mechanism to avoid relapse when you encounter daily triggers.
Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA)
If you are going for an outpatient recovery program, then you will be given a Community Reinforcement Approach with vouchers to help you abstain from heroin and religiously abide by your medications and counseling sessions.
Seek Medical Assistance Today
If you think you or anyone in your family is suffering from heroin addiction, then it’s about time you perform an intervention. Don’t hesitate to talk to a professional addiction specialist near you, so you can get a personalized treatment program.
Most successful patients who recovered from heroin addiction got their treatment as early as possible, to avoid further complications with their body and behavior.