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How do I Choose the Best Heroin Treatment?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 December 2019
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By heroin treatment, most people mean treatment that helps them go through withdrawal and detox, and which then may provide medical and/or mental support to remain free of heroin. There are several methods by which a person can end heroin addiction, and plenty of ways they can get addiction support after withdrawal. Choosing a treatment is an individual choice, however, and people should do some investigating if they want to determine which treatment is best.

The standard treatment begins with medications to help withdrawal; often drugs like clonidine are used. Some people go through a procedure called ultra rapid detox, with or without anesthesia. The method, when used with anesthesia, is associated with higher death rate, and it is now not a recommended procedure. There is certainly evidence that ultra rapid detox with anesthesia has a high failure rate and is not likely to prove a more lasting heroin treatment than any other method.

Heroin treatment with slower detox begins by helping the person manage some withdrawal symptoms from heroin by giving medications. Once physical withdrawal is complete, most people need continued medications to support remaining free of heroin. Certainly the most discussed of these is the drug methadone, which may reduce craving for heroin. People often participate in methadone clinics and spend a scheduled amount of time receiving the medication before eventually withdrawing from it.

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Some other drug choices may be suggested in lieu of methadone as ongoing heroin treatment. These include buprenorphine and naltrexone. Both work to potentially reduce ongoing “need” for heroin. Some people may favor buprenorphine because it doesn’t involve getting the medication at a clinic and any physician may prescribe it. Naltrexone is probably less effective, and may only work when a person is fully committed to remaining off of heroin.

What people do as and after they withdraw may influence chance of successful discontinuation. Most people are helped if they can live in a treatment facility for several months. Usually, doctors recommend at least three months and some suggest that six months is the optimum length of stay for heroin treatment. Some people will obviously not be able to stay this long in a facility, and if they are motivated they still can end addiction to the drug, especially if they work with narcotics anonymous groups or other outside groups for drug addicts.

Participation in treatment and/or therapy groups is recommended once people exit a treatment facility, too. Many find that they continue to need the support of NA or other groups for many years. Drug addiction, as is often noted, is only partly physical. Changing the behaviors or ways of thinking that made a person seek out a drug like heroin must be addressed too.

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