Heroin is an illicit drug that can have effects on the mind and body. With chronic use, heroin can cause physical dependence and become addictive.
Once addicted to heroin, it can be difficult to stop use of the drug alone. With professional support, heroin addiction is treatable with detox, medication, and behavioral treatments.
Treatment for heroin addiction can help address the physical effects of heroin addiction, as well as the psychological and behavioral effects living with addiction can have on a person’s life.
Why People Need Treatment For Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction, or heroin use disorder, is a physical and psychological reliance on heroin that can negatively affect a person’s health, relationships, and general way of life.
Signs of heroin addiction include:
- inability to stop using heroin
- craving heroin
- constantly thinking about using or getting more heroin
- continuing to use heroin despite negative consequences
- feeling physically sick within hours of last using heroin
Addiction doesn’t develop after a single use. It is a chronic, relapsing condition that can develop as a result of how heroin interacts with various systems in the body, including certain chemicals in the brain.
Because heroin addiction is progressive and chronic, it requires an intensive treatment plan in order to manage and overcome the condition.
Treatment Options For Heroin Addiction
Becoming addicted to heroin doesn’t mean someone will be addicted to heroin the rest of their life. With treatment, achieving recovery from heroin addiction is possible.
There are a range of evidence-based treatments for heroin addiction that can be effective for people with various physical health and mental health needs.
For people who are physically dependent on heroin, the first step in the treatment process will require detoxification.
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Detox programs for heroin addiction provide a safe and supportive treatment environment to help people taper off heroin or stop using heroin all at once.
Within a detox program, health professionals can provide treatment for symptoms of heroin withdrawal, which can begin within hours of a person’s last use.
Medication-Assisted Treatment For Heroin
One of the most effective treatments for heroin addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This involves the combined use of behavioral therapy with medication.
Although medications for heroin addiction can be beneficial on their own, this treatment can be most effective when offered in conjunction with behavioral treatment.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications to treat heroin and opioid addiction, which can help reduce drug cravings and reduce the risk of relapse.
Three medications FDA-approved to treat heroin addiction:
- Methadone maintenance treatment for heroin addiction: Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist, taken daily, that is available through approved outpatient treatment programs.
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone) treatment for heroin addiction: Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, is an opioid use disorder medication that can be taken daily or administered monthly.
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol) treatment for heroin addiction: Naltrexone, or Vivitrol, is an injectable medication that blocks the effects of opioids like heroin. It is administered once a month.
All medications for opioid use disorder are safe for long-term use. Side effects vary, and the potential for abuse and addiction with these medications is low.
For detoxification, the FDA has also approved the use of lofexidine, a non-opioid medication that can alleviate heroin withdrawal symptoms in the early stages of treatment.
Heroin Rehab Programs
Heroin addiction can be treated in an inpatient, residential, or outpatient rehabilitation program.
Within a heroin rehab program, patients follow a treatment schedule that can help structure their days and provide guidance and support during early recovery.
Inpatient rehabilitation programs offer medical stabilization as well as behavioral health treatment.
This requires living in a treatment facility for a predetermined period of time. Inpatient rehab programs usually last 28 to 30 days.
Residential rehab programs also offer residential care, but not all offer medical or detoxification services.
Residential rehab programs may offer traditional treatments such as individual counseling and group therapy, as well as holistic therapies. Short-term residential programs last 30 to 90 days on average.
Outpatient treatment offers a flexible treatment schedule that involves attending treatment during the day and returning home at night.
Levels of outpatient treatment include:
- Partial hospitalization programs (PHP): 20-30 hours per week
- Intensive outpatient programs (IOP): 10-12 hours per week
- General outpatient programs (OP): 6-9 hours per week
- Standard outpatient treatment services: 1-3 hours per week
Outpatient treatment for heroin addiction may include medication-assisted treatment, as well as weekly counseling sessions and group therapy sessions.
Differences Between Inpatient Treatment And Outpatient Treatment For Heroin
Inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab programs differ in some significant ways, with the primary difference being that inpatient treatment offers 24-hour care, while outpatient treatment does not.
Primary differences between inpatient and outpatient rehab include:
- Level of support: Inpatient treatment offers a higher level of support and structure than outpatient care.
- Cost: Inpatient rehab costs more than outpatient rehab on average.
- Program length: The average length of an inpatient program is 30 days, while the average outpatient programs can last three to six months.
- Types of treatments offered: Inpatient and residential rehab programs usually offer a wider range of treatment services, including traditional and holistic therapies.
- Flexibility: Outpatient programs offer greater flexibility for people who are unable to take off work or are unable to leave their home to attend a live-in program.
Do I Need Inpatient Or Outpatient Treatment For My Heroin Addiction?
Inpatient treatment is highly recommended for people who are in the early stages of recovery from chronic or severe addiction, due to its intensive nature.
Outpatient treatment programs are most suitable for people who are sober, medically stable, or who are otherwise unable to begin an inpatient program due to lack of flexibility or cost.
Aftercare Programs For Heroin Addiction
Recovering from heroin addiction is a lifelong journey. It doesn’t begin or end with getting off heroin.
After an inpatient or outpatient program, aftercare programs can offer additional recovery support services, such as job assistance, housing assistance, and case management.
Dual Diagnosis Rehab For Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction can often co-occur with other types of addictions and mental health disorders. People who have co-occurring disorders can benefit most from a dual diagnosis rehab program.
Common co-occurring disorders with heroin addiction include:
- anxiety disorders
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- bipolar disorder
- eating disorders
- personality disorders
- chronic pain conditions
- behavioral addictions
Dual diagnosis rehab, also known as integrated treatment, is a specialty treatment program that offers both mental health and substance use treatment.
Heroin Addiction Treatment And Rehab Programs FAQs
Having questions about addiction treatment for heroin is common. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about heroin addiction treatment.
❓ Can I Quit Heroin Cold-Turkey?
✔️ Trying to quit heroin cold-turkey, or all at once, is possible but it is also dangerous. This carries a serious risk for relapse, which can be lethal after undergoing the detox process.
After a period of abstinence, a person’s tolerance for heroin becomes reduced. This means their body won’t respond to heroin the same way as it did before.
If someone tries to return to how much heroin they were using before, this can have potentially deadly consequences.
Getting professional help through a medical detox program can reduce this risk and provide support for heroin withdrawal throughout the detox process.
❓ What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Heroin Addiction?
✔️ Heroin addiction can be effectively treated with medication and behavioral therapy, also known as medication-assisted treatment.
Medication-assisted treatment is offered by some addiction rehab centers, clinics, and individual treatment providers. The availability of this type of treatment across the U.S. varies.
❓ Is Opioid Addiction The Same As Heroin Addiction?
✔️ Heroin is an opioid drug that is derived from the natural opiate morphine. Heroin addiction is treated similarly to prescription opioid addiction because it belongs to the same class of drugs.
❓ What Medications Are Used To Treat Heroin Addiction?
✔️ There are several medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid and heroin addiction: methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex), and naltrexone (Vivitrol)
These drugs differ in how they affect the body. All, however, are safe for long-term use and can be effective for promoting continued participation in treatment and positive recovery outcomes.
❓ What Are The Benefits Of Medication For Heroin Addiction?
✔️ Medications such as methadone and buprenorphine serve the purpose of helping a person achieve full recovery from addiction. Approved medications can offer several benefits.
Proven benefits of medication for heroin addiction include:
- reduced risk of fatal overdose
- more likely to continue treatment
- helps manage cravings for heroin
- decreased criminal activity
- increased ability to gain and maintain employment
- improved birth outcomes in people who are pregnant
- improved quality of life
❓ How Much Does Heroin Addiction Treatment Cost?
✔️ The cost of heroin rehab can vary. The cost of heroin drug treatment will depend on factors such as the level of care, geographic location, and how you plan to pay for rehab.
Average costs of rehab programs without insurance:
- Outpatient detox: $1,000 to $2,000 for acute detox
- Inpatient rehab: $12,000 to $30,000 for a 30-day program
- Outpatient treatment: $1,300 to $12,000
- Medication-assisted treatment: $126/week to $1,176/month
Most health insurance plans offer full or partial coverage for substance abuse treatment. Under some insurance plans, treatment costs can be drastically reduced.
Free rehab programs are also offered by some addiction treatment centers in the United States for people who earn little to no income.
Find Treatment For Heroin Addiction Today
Thousands of people seek treatment for heroin addiction each year. With treatment, it’s possible to achieve a fulfilling life in addiction recovery.
We’re here to help. Call our helpline today to find a heroin addiction treatment program for yourself or a loved one.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- SAGE Journals—The Economic Cost of Substance Abuse Treatment in the State of Florida
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—Mental health and substance abuse health coverage options
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Common Comorbidities with Substance Use Disorders Research Report
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Heroin DrugFacts
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Heroin Research Report
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder Research Report