Treatment Options For Heroin Addiction

Treatment Options For Heroin Addiction

Heroin and opioid addiction treatments have evolved over the years and today there are several options available to fit the needs of patients.

Most research shows that a combination of treatment methods can yield the best results. This can include different behavioral modification techniques, often referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy.

For some patients, medically assisted treatment (MAT) can be added help improve the success rate of heroin addiction treatment.

The overall goal of successful treatment is to give the patient the tools they need to help deal with the initial withdrawal systems. From there, new therapies are added to deal with cravings or triggers which can lead to relapses in their treatment.

By combining different therapies, a patient can successfully move through the different phases of recovery.

In this article, we’ll outline the most common treatments for heroin addiction and how they are combined to promote successful outcomes for patients.

Medically Assisted Treatment For Heroin Addiction

Medically assisted treatment (MAT) involves the use of prescribed medications to help deal with initial withdrawal symptoms as well as lingering cravings.

With heroin or opioid addiction, one of the most difficult phases of treatment is the initial detox period. During this period, the patient can experience intense withdrawal symptoms.

Certain approved medications can be used during this period to greatly reduce the overall withdrawal symptoms.

By reducing the initial withdrawal symptoms, the chances of completing the detox phase are improved.

Recently, the FDA approved a new medication to aid with opioid withdrawal symptoms. The drug is called lofexidine and is unique since it’s not opioid-based like some other MAT options.

While lofexidine does not help with lingering cravings for heroin, it does help patients more comfortably detox and move on to the next phase of treatment.

Several other drugs are available to help treat heroin addiction. These have been used for many years and have been proven to improve outcomes for patients enrolled in a comprehensive treatment program.

Buprenorphine (Brand name Subutex) 

Buprenorphine was one of the early medications used to treat heroin addiction. It works by reducing cravings and heroin addiction symptoms such as withdrawal during detox.

There are now many different forms of buprenorphine that have been designed to address different areas of treatment.

For example, some formulations now contain naloxone to help reduce the risk of overdose if a patient does relapse while taking buprenorphine.

Other formulations include long-lasting injections which can be helpful if the patient has problems regularly taking the sublingual version at the prescribed intervals

Methadone (Brand name Dolophine)

Methadone works similarly to buprenorphine in that it reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin or opioid addiction. It can come in several forms such as a liquid, powder, or diskette.

Methadone is given out by a licensed medical practitioner. but if the patient has had a period of stability, they can be allowed to take methadone home between medical visits.

Naltrexone (Brand name Vivitrol) 

Naltrexone is a newer medication used to treat both opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. It comes in two forms. One is a daily pill taken orally. The second is a long-lasting injection taken every four weeks.

Naltrexone works differently than other medication options like methadone. Naltrexone has no addictive properties of its own and causes no withdrawal if stopped. Instead, it works by blocking the effects of heroin or opioids.

It also works by reducing cravings and there are also no risks of abuse with naltrexone like there are with Methadone or other similar medications.

Behavioral Therapy Options

Treatment for heroin addiction often involves a combination of options. Beyond pharmaceutical options, behavioral therapy plays a key role in successful outcomes.

The most common behavioral therapy for opioid addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, patients receive tools to reverse negative thought patterns. CBT also provides tools for coping with stress, anxiety, and other possible triggers that can lead to a relapse.

Besides just helping in addiction treatment, CBT has also been proven to be effective for common mental health conditions such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders

CBT works by first identifying negative or incorrect thought patterns. During treatment, a practitioner will try to learn what patterns or learned behaviors the patient is experiencing that contribute to their substance abuse.

The practitioner then provides tools and exercises to help reverse those negative patterns and replace them with healthier behaviors.

Over time and a period of discovery, the patient learns to recognize their negative or incorrect thought pattern before they lead to self-destructive behavior. This realization gives the patient tools to confront issues on their own even after the therapy or treatment has ended.

Contingency Management

Some treatment involves another type of behavioral therapy known as contingency management. This approach rewards patients for positive actions that promote their sobriety.

This therapy can be combined with CBT or MAT and it will depend on the patient and what they respond to. Some patients respond more positively to contingency management approaches instead of CBT.

Although, CBT does provide a more comprehensive toolset when dealing with complex addiction and psychological conditions.

Finding The Right Addiction Treatment For Each Patient

Despite there being many different successful treatment options for heroin addiction, the key is finding the right combination of options for each patient.

No two patients are alike, so no treatment options can be alike. Determining what options are needed takes a practitioner and specialist who combine experience with compassion.

At The Hope Institute of New Jersey, our staff has years of experience treating heroin and opioid addiction. We understand the complexity of the disorder and our experience allows us to tailor a treatment program designed for each patient.

If you or a loved one is suffering from heroin addiction, we can help. Our staff understands what treatment options can offer you the highest chance of long-term success and sobriety.

Contact The Hope Institute today and speak with one of our trained staff members. We can help you find the right treatment options to free you from addiction.