Heroin Addiction Treatment and Rehab Centers
Heroin is an illicit opioid drug derived from the opium poppy plant.1,2 Heroin and other opioids bind to opioid receptors on cells in the brain and throughout the body.1,3 They affect parts of the brain that are involved in feelings of pleasure and pain and are critical in maintaining heart rate, breathing, and sleep.1,3
Using heroin can be dangerous, as it is addictive and can lead to a fatal overdose.1-3 In 2021, among Americans aged 12 and over, there were 1.1 million people who had used heroin within the last year and 1 million people who had an addiction to heroin in the past year.4 Nearly 20% of the fatal opioid overdoses in 2020 had heroin involved.5
Professional treatment for heroin addiction, including medication, is available and effective, and you can learn more about it from this article. This page will cover:
- Options for heroin rehab treatment.
- What to expect from an inpatient and outpatient heroin addiction treatment center.
- What to expect from detox.
- Programs and therapies that are used in heroin rehab centers.
- Treatment medications and therapies used in heroin rehab.
- Therapies commonly used in heroin addiction rehab.
- How to get help for heroin addiction.
- FAQs about heroin addiction treatment.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Options
There are different levels of care that are available for heroin addiction treatment. These can include detoxification, inpatient, and outpatient treatment, and should be tailored to meet your needs to be most effective.3,6
Effective treatment means finding the right facility and level of care for your unique needs.6 Finding the right treatment includes assessing the following factors:6,7
- How severe your opioid addiction
- How long you’ve been using.
- Whether you use any other substances.
- If you have any medical or mental health issues.
- Whether you have legal and/or employment problems.
- If you have special age, gender, or cultural needs that should be addressed during treatment.
Being in the right setting and getting the appropriate care to help you achieve treatment goals will help you have the best chance of succeeding in your recovery.6,8 As you progress in treatment, you should be reassessed regularly, since your needs can change.6
Inpatient Heroin Rehab
There are two different types of inpatient treatment options available for heroin addiction. Standard inpatient treatment for heroin addiction can take place in a hospital or freestanding treatment center, where you remain for the duration of treatment, which usually lasts about 30 days.6
Intense group and individual counseling sessions occur daily, and staff is onsite around the clock to provide support at any time.6,9 Counseling typically includes behavioral therapy techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and can also make use of medications that are FDA-approved to treat opioid addiction.6
Residential programs for heroin typically occur in freestanding treatment facilities or a group home, where you stay for 6 months or longer.6,10 This type of care provides not only intensive behavioral therapy techniques and a very structured setting, but also relies on staff and other residents to hold each other accountable for their actions and become responsible and productive members of society.6,9
People who have more severe heroin addictions, home environments that aren’t stable or safe, co-occurring medical or mental health problems, or legal issues, may benefit from the high level of support in a residential setting.6,9 Some facilities have specialized programs available, such as offering dual diagnosis treatment for heroin addiction, luxury heroin rehab programs, or treatment programs for certain populations addicted to heroin, including women, veterans, or LGBTQ people.6
Outpatient Rehab for Heroin Addiction
Outpatient heroin rehab programs typically take place in a clinic or office setting, where you attend scheduled appointments for group and individual counseling, as well as psychiatrist and nurse appointments as needed for medication maintenance.6,9 The length of treatment can vary widely, depending on your treatment goals and the progress you make.6
Outpatient care is different from inpatient because there are levels of care allowing the intensity of treatment to be adjusted for your unique needs.6 In addition, you live in your own home, or another sober living facility, and attend shorter treatment appointments that can give you the freedom to work, go to school, and manage your household while still working on your recovery.6,9
Outpatient care is offered on a continuum of intensity. Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) are the most intensive, providing at least 20 hours of treatment sessions per week that are similar to what is provided at inpatient facilities.6,10
Intensive outpatient treatment provides at least 9 hours of treatment services per week, as a step down from PHP, while standard outpatient offers less than 9 hours of treatment weekly.10 These programs may be beneficial for people who have less severe addictions, are employed or attend school, have a supportive network of family and peers, have access to reliable transportation, and live in safe and stable home environments.6
Medical detox for more severe heroin addiction typically takes place in an inpatient, residential setting, which can be a hospital or freestanding treatment center or another type of facility.7 This level of care offers around-the-clock medical supervision and care, where staff can provide medication and monitor withdrawal symptoms to ensure that your detoxification process is as comfortable and safe as possible.6,7
Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include: 3,7
- Pain in the muscles and bones.
- Uncontrollable leg movements.
- Strong cravings for opioids
- Increases in blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature.
Although heroin withdrawal symptoms typically aren’t life-threatening, there can be rare but dangerous complications that develop as a result.7 Diarrhea and vomiting can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, and underlying health issues can be aggravated by some of the other symptoms.7 Attending a medical detox allows staff to monitor symptoms and identify any potential complications so they can be treated immediately.7
While detoxification is an important initial step toward recovery, it doesn’t address the factors that contribute to addiction and is not an effective substitute for comprehensive treatment.3,6
Heroin Rehab Programs & Therapies
There are a range of programs and therapies available to treat heroin addiction. Since addiction affects each person differently, rehab programs create an individualized treatment plan to maximize the effectiveness of treatment to help ensure your treatment goals will be met.6,8 Some people respond better to certain types of programs and therapies than others, and different facilities may utilize certain types of programming.6
Some of the more common therapies and programming that are used during treatment include:6,9
- Combinations of medication and behavioral therapy.
- Relapse prevention skills training.
- Treatment for underlying mental health disorders if present.
- Development of an aftercare plan to follow once treatment is completed.
Not all these techniques are used for every person, and some people may need additional assistance in other areas that have been affected by heroin use, such as socialization, employment, family or marriage counseling, physical health, and legal support.6
There are FDA-approved medications that can be used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid use disorders. Two of the medications, methadone and buprenorphine, can be started in detox. Both can ease or eliminate symptoms of heroin withdrawal and can reduce cravings to use heroin, making detox more comfortable and safer and improving retention in rehab.1,11
Lofexidine is a newer medication that is FDA-approved and is a non-opioid which can lessen symptoms of heroin withdrawal.1
Medications can also be used during treatment once detox is complete, to reduce cravings and block the effects of any opioids that may be consumed.3,11 Methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex), and naltrexone are all three used as maintenance medications in heroin addiction treatment.3 Each of these medications works differently, so you and the prescribing doctor will decide which would be most effective for you.3,11
Whichever medication you are on, pairing it with behavioral therapy increases the effectiveness of either treatment alone, and makes it more likely that you will stay in treatment, reduce your heroin use, and help you return to a stable and productive way of life.3,6
During heroin addiction treatment, there are some common therapeutic techniques that have been found to be highly effective. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM) are the most widely used behavioral therapy techniques and can be provided in both individual and group therapy sessions for maximum effectiveness.1,6
CBT helps you to change how you think and behave, identify situations that put you at risk for relapse and apply coping skills, and manage stressors.3,6 CM offers small, tangible rewards in exchange for desirable behavior, including attending treatment sessions and maintaining abstinence.1,6
Individual sessions can be used to discuss goals and private issues, while group sessions allow for peer support, reinforcement, and a sense of identity among participants.6 Some facilities also make use of complementary holistic therapies to increase the effectiveness of behavioral and medication therapies.
Getting into A Heroin Rehab Center
Finding a heroin rehab center can feel overwhelming at first, but there are some steps you can take to make the process easier. Some things you can do to locate a program for you include:
- Talking to your doctor or mental health provider. They can provide a referral to or a suggestion for a facility that can meet your needs.
- Check out the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. They offer a treatment-finding site here where you can search by a range of criteria.
- Visit Rehabs.com. They provide a website here where you can find a local rehab and narrow it down based on criteria.
- Reach out to your health insurance provider. They can give you a list of rehab facilities that are covered by your insurance plan.
- If you are a veteran, contact your local Veterans Administration (VA) office. They can help.
Starting at any rehab will involve an evaluation to determine your needs, so they can place you in the right setting and create a treatment plan that is right for you.7 This involves learning more about your current and past substance use, family history of substance use, your physical and mental health history, a physical exam, your living situation, any problems you may have with social relationships and work, and legal issues.7
American Addiction Centers (AAC) offers a free, 24/7 hotline where you can contact our admissions coordinators to answer any questions you may have. They can help you understand what to expect during treatment, what your insurance will cover, and how to find a treatment facility near you. They can also help facilitate admission to one of our AAC facilities. Help is only a phone call away .