What Are the Steps in a Heroin Treatment Program?

If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, you may feel like you don’t know where to turn. Many people become addicted to heroin to deal with chronic pain, or they’re trying to self-medicate a mental illness. No matter the reason for usage, heroin is a very dangerous and highly addictive substance. The idea of quitting might seem overwhelming, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. What are the steps to a heroin treatment program?

Heroin treatment will generally follow three main stages: detox, inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. The duration of these stages and the steps involved will vary depending on your circumstances. This is an overview of the basics of what to expect.

How Heroin Treatment Works

To understand the stages of heroin addiction treatment, it’s important to understand how recovery from addiction works. To have a successful recovery, people must manage the following:

  • Getting the toxic substance out of their body
  • Treating the mental health aspect of addiction and dependence
  • Treating any co-occuring mental or physical disorders
  • Treating the physical dependence on the substance

You’ll generally address these criteria in three stages. The first is detox, which is when you’ll go through the detoxification and withdrawal process. A medically monitored detox can help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce pain. The next is inpatient treatment. Most heroin addicts need inpatient treatment for a successful recovery; that said, sometimes people can’t afford to do an inpatient program. In these cases, outpatient treatment would be the next step. Outpatient treatment is also the next step after a heroin addict completes an inpatient rehab program.

Addiction is a lifelong disease that will require consistent maintenance. However, both the physical and mental symptoms will subside the longer you go without relapsing.

1. Detox

Detox is the first step. You need to rid your body of the heroin, which means going through the withdrawal process. Heroin withdrawal can be very painful, but medical detox involves methods that can help.

Professional treatment centers are the best place to go through a heroin detox. Hospitals are capable of medical monitoring, but they may not provide the same mental health services a patient needs. Many detox centers are attached to rehabilitation facilities, so you can go from detoxing to inpatient care without needing to change addresses. That said, detox is handled differently from rehab.

Detox refers to the medical aspect of withdrawal. As such, detox programs tend to last for only a few days, while inpatient rehab often lasts for several months. The longest detox programs tend to be about two weeks long. They involve consistent medical monitoring of your withdrawal symptoms to ensure your withdrawal is as safe and painless as possible.

There are a number of medications that patients may be prescribed during a heroin detox. Some of the common ones include:

  • Buprenorphine – An opioid medication that can help with cravings and withdrawal along with chronic pain
  • Methadone – An opioid stronger than buprenorphine that works similarly; however, the use is controversial due to the risk of overdose
  • Naltrexone – A blocker for opioid receptors that reduces craving and prevents heroin from getting the user high
  • Suboxone – A combination of buprenorphine and naltrexone that inhibits heroin effects while relieving withdrawal pain

2. Inpatient Rehab

After you’ve detoxed from the heroin, you need to deal with the mental aspect of addiction. The best way to do this is in an inpatient rehab facility. Inpatient rehab programs provide stable, controlled environments with constant access to medical professionals and mental health services. These are the best places to explore and treat your mental health.

Rehab programs typically last at least 30 days, but many will last between 3 and 6 months. Residential programs may last even longer. The best program for you will vary depending on your environmental circumstances, the strength of your addiction, and the mental health treatment you need.

2.5. Intensive Outpatient Care

This is labeled as step 2.5 because it’s a potential alternative to inpatient care. Experts highly recommend inpatient care for heroin addiction, as it’s a serious substance use disorder that has a high chance of relapse. For people who can’t afford the cost of inpatient rehab, an intensive outpatient program (IOP) is an option. Intensive outpatient programs will often require you to take time off work, but if you can’t afford that, you may be able to tailor your program around your schedule.

An intensive outpatient program will address the same mental health factors that you’ll cover in an inpatient rehab program. You’ll receive counseling and therapy, explore healthier coping methods, and get to the root of your addiction. You may also have access to family therapy services for your loved ones. Unlike inpatient care, however, you’ll live and sleep at home. Most IOPs involve four to eight hours of therapy per day.

Intensive outpatient care tends to be much cheaper than inpatient rehab. There are some inherent risks, though. If environmental triggers are a big part of your addiction, you might have a higher likelihood of relapse while in treatment. Relapse potential is also higher since it’s easier to get illicit substances outside a rehabilitation facility.

3. Outpatient Services

After completing inpatient treatment, outpatient services are used to maintain the patient’s mental and physical health. Typically, these will involve individual addiction counseling, meetings with psychiatrists for mental health medication, and regular physician appointments for any physical health conditions. Ongoing family therapy is also highly recommended.

4. Support Groups

Both secular and non-secular support groups are available in nearly every community. You can also find support groups online. Experts recommend that addicts attend support groups to connect with people going through the same issues. Peer support greatly reduces the chances of relapse.

If you’re ready to talk to someone about your addiction, we have trained counselors available 24/7. Call 877-978-3125 today.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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