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How do I get Help for a Heroin User?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Due to heroin's intensely addictive nature, dependency on the drug can be formed upon initial use. Seeking treatment for a heroin user must therefore be attempted with the understanding that the user is likely not physically able to stop by sheer force of will. As heroin is one of the most damaging and addictive types of drugs, getting treatment from qualified professionals is imperative for a heroin user. As the body builds a tolerance to heroin with continuous use, the user will repeatedly increase his or her dosage, inevitably to lethal amounts.

If you are trying to get help for a heroin user, the first step is to confront the user and ask if he or she is willing to get professional help for the addiction. While some users may acknowledge they have a problem and accept professional treatment, many will express an unwillingness to receive help. It is important to remember in this case that a user's initial denial and unwillingness to stop using the drug is not uncommon.

Whether or not the heroin user has agreed to accept help once confronted, the next step is to call a local hospital to ask what sorts of resources are available for getting a loved one help with heroin addiction. A medical facility should be able to provide you with contact information for support groups and professional rehabilitation resources, either within the hospital or the community. Upon making contact with a group or counselor and explaining your situation, they may recommend staging a supervised intervention with the heroin user. The purpose of an intervention is to create a "rock bottom" state for the addict, to reinforce the severity of his or her addiction and its ramifications for on loved ones.

If you are seeking help for a heroin user, it is important that you also accept support as a casualty of the user's addiction. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer support for the family and friends of drug addicts in addition to the addicts themselves. The effects of a heroine user's addiction on loved ones can include depression, anxiety, feelings of despair, and other damage to their overall quality of life.

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Discussion Comments
By Alchemy — On Jun 06, 2010

I agree with PelesTears, but I would like to add something. You must also be able to accept the fact that an addict may never come around and live with the consequences. You cannot allow that persons inability to overcome addiction tear your life apart. I used to volunteer/work at a youth center for at risk youth. My desire to work there came from personal dealings with addiction amongst family members as well as the realization that the drug problem in the small town I spent my high school years was getting worse. Younger siblings of kids I went to high school with were overdosing on Oxycontin or Fentynol, or getting arrested for drug related crimes. From working with the kids and my own family I have learned that the sooner the problem is addressed the better the chance for recovery. I have also learned that not everyone can be 'saved'. The best approach is extremely cautious optimism.

By PelesTears — On Jun 06, 2010

Rehabilitation for a heroin/pharmaceutical opiate addict cannot be thought of as a singular event. Helping someone who is addicted to heroin/pharmaceutical opiates involves continuous treatment. The addict and his/her support network both have to be willing to change habits. Enabling behavior by those that love the addict need to be changed to ensure that recovery can progress. Like the article said, the addict must hit rock bottom before they are willing to change. Treatment is only the first step; it is also the shortest and easiest. Changing all the little things (i.e. associations, familiar settings, old habits, etc.), and addressing the underlying causes behind the user seeking an escape are the lifelong changes that require commitment from all involved. If you want to help an addict you must be patient (different from accommodating) and prepared to make the commitment.

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