What to Expect: Heroin Detox and Rehab
Heroin detox and rehab, the first step in overcoming an heroin addiction is detoxification, a process of withdrawal that removes the heroin toxins from the body. However, detox alone is not enough for sustained abstinence. For a long-term recovery, detox should be supported by rehabilitative treatment which addresses the psychological issues behind the addiction to heroin and teaches addicts to live a healthy life.
What are the effects of withdrawal from heroin?
Withdrawing from a heroin dependency can result in a number of symptoms. You may be affected by some or all, in varying degrees.
Physical symptoms include: sweating, tremors, cramps, chills, restless leg syndrome, rhinitis, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, seizures.
Psychological symptoms include: depression, anxiety, uncomfortable moods, cravings, insomnia, dizziness, nausea, flu-like symptoms.
Can I detox from heroin without specialist help?
Sudden withdrawal from heroin is not life-threatening but it does pose physical risks. Symptoms can be intense and hard to cope with physically and psychologically. This can result in the individual being drawn back into heroin abuse. It can also be very difficult for family members who are looking after the addicted person through the heroin detox process. They may not have the emotional strength to motivate the addict nor the medical expertise required to ensure that symptoms are minimised.
Detoxing physically from heroin can take up to 14 days or longer. Ask yourself if this is really safe or achievable without medical support and monitoring. And without a professional to help you manage the psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
What does residential treatment for heroin addiction involve?
A residential detox and rehab treatment programme offers the best chance of long-term recovery as it treats both the physical and psychological addiction to heroin.
On admission, a doctor will assess you and prescribe appropriate medication to reduce the risk, and alleviate the symptoms, of heroin withdrawal. To support heroin detox, a substitute therapy such as Subutex will be used. You’ll also have a physical examination, and a urine test to record drug usage. Routine blood tests may also be taken. The doctor will review any current prescribed medication. Throughout the heroin detox process, the doctor will monitor your physical well-being.
You’ll be allocated a key worker who will gather background history and develop a rehabilitative care plan. You’ll be fully involved with this. The plan will address your heroin use, behavioural issues and physical, psychological and social needs.
The rehab treatment will consist of education, counselling and therapy to understand and challenge the addictive illness. You’ll learn to recognise trigger points and affective behaviours to allow a life free from the harm that addiction to heroin creates. Many heroin rehab programmes are based on the proven 12 step model, and take a holistic approach to treat the whole person.