Heroin is a highly dangerous drug, and its use can lead to severe health problems and even death. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), an estimated 9.5 million people in the United States aged 12 or older have used heroin at least once in their lives. In 2018, there were an estimated 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States and of those, 15,482 (32.9%) involved heroin. Additionally, regular use of heroin can lead to addiction, respiratory depression, and increased risk of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Keep reading to learn about heroin addiction treatment options to help you manage and overcome.

What Is Heroin Use Disorder?

Heroin use disorder, also known as heroin addiction, is a condition in which an individual compulsively uses heroin despite experiencing negative consequences as a result of their use. Heroin use disorder is characterized by a number of symptoms, including:

A strong desire to use heroin

Difficulty controlling or reducing use

Continued use despite negative consequences

Spending a lot of time using or recovering from use

Giving up important activities in order to use

Using despite physical or psychological problems

Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms

Individuals with heroin use disorder may experience physical and psychological symptoms when they stop using the drug, such as insomnia, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, and diarrhea. They may also experience cravings for the drug and have difficulty resisting the urge to use. 

What to expect when you stop taking heroin

When an individual stops taking heroin, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary depending on the individual, the severity of their addiction, and the amount of heroin they were using. The withdrawal symptoms can be divided into two categories: acute and post-acute withdrawal.

Acute withdrawal symptoms typically occur within the first few days after stopping heroin use and can include:




Muscle and bone pain

Abdominal cramps


Nausea and vomiting

Increased heart rate and blood pressure

Cold flashes with goosebumps

Dilated pupils


Runny nose


Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can occur after the acute withdrawal symptoms have subsided and can include:





Difficulty concentrating


Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)

Drug cravings

It’s important to note that the withdrawal symptoms can be severe and in some cases, it may be recommended to undergo a medically-assisted detoxification to help manage the withdrawal symptoms.

After detox, it’s important to continue treatment for addiction, such as counseling, therapy, or support groups. This can help to prevent relapse and to build the skills necessary to maintain long-term recovery.

Here’s How to Treat Heroin Addiction

Unfortunately, there is no cure to addiction. However, it can certainly be managed through the following treatments:

Medication: Usually, individuals enroll themselves in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs that offer holistic treatments.

Behavioral interventions

Counseling and support groups

Let’s dive in deeper for heroin addiction treatment options:

Medication for Heroin addiction

Currently, the FDA has approved three medications to treat opioid use disorder. The following are the medications that are commonly used to treat heroin addiction in a drug rehab:


This is a long-acting opioid medication that is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings for heroin. It is typically given in a controlled setting, such as a methadone clinic, and is gradually tapered off as the individual becomes stable in their recovery.


This medication is similar to methadone in that it is a long-acting opioid medication that is used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. However, it has a lower risk of overdose and can be prescribed by a qualified physician in an office-based setting.


This medication is an opioid antagonist, which means that it blocks the effects of opioids. It is used to reduce cravings and decrease the likelihood of relapse.

Therapy and Counseling

Medication is coupled with therapy and counseling to ensure that all dimensions of addiction are covered. While medication offers physical treatment, therapy tries to undo the mental damage done by heroin or any other such drug. There are several therapies that are commonly used to treat heroin addiction:

Behavioral therapy

This type of therapy helps individuals understand and change the behaviors that lead to their drug use. Examples include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and DBT, which help  individuals identify and change negative thought patterns, and contingency management, which uses rewards to encourage abstinence Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are both evidence-based approaches that have been used to treat individuals with heroin addiction. CBT therapy focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to the addiction, DBT is a form of CBT that emphasizes the importance of balancing acceptance and change. Both approaches can be used in individual or group therapy settings and may be combined with other forms of treatment, such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or 12-step programs.

Motivational interviewing

This is a counseling approach that helps individuals explore and resolve their ambivalence about changing their drug use. MI is a client-centered, goal-oriented method that aims to help individuals resolve ambivalence about their substance use and make positive changes.

The therapist uses open-ended questions, reflective listening, and affirmations to help clients explore their own motivations for change and to overcome any resistance they may have to seeking help. MI is designed to be non-confrontational and non-judgmental, and it is based on the idea that people are more likely to change when they feel that the decision is their own.

Group and Family Therapy

Group therapy and family therapy are both forms of treatment that can be used to help individuals with heroin addiction, 

Group therapy involves a therapist leading a group of individuals with similar issues in a therapeutic setting. Group therapy can provide a sense of community and support for individuals in recovery, as well as an opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. It can also provide a safe space for individuals to share their thoughts and feelings and to receive feedback and encouragement from others. Moreover, it can be beneficial for individuals with heroin addiction because it allows them to address issues related to their addiction, such as shame, guilt, and social isolation, in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.

Family therapy involves a therapist working with the individual with addiction and their family members. It can address the impact of addiction on the family, as well as issues such as communication, conflict resolution and boundary setting. Family therapy can help families understand the addiction and support the individual in recovery, it can also address any enabling behaviors that may have contributed to the addiction.

Both group and family therapy can be advantageous for heroin addiction treatment and heroin rehab, as they address not only the individual’s substance use but also the impact of addiction on their relationships and support systems.

12-step programs

These are peer-support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, that follow a specific set of steps to recovery. 12-step programs have been shown to be effective in helping individuals with heroin addiction. They provide a structured approach to recovery and a sense of community and support. However, it’s important to note that not everyone may respond positively to this approach, it’s important to consider individual needs and preferences when selecting a treatment program. 12-step programs are also most effective when used in combination with other evidence-based treatments that are mentioned above. 

Modern Addiction Treatments

Holistic addiction treatments refer to therapies that address the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – rather than just focusing on the addiction itself. These types of treatments can include:

Meditation and yoga

Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness-based practices which can help individuals manage stress, improve their mental and physical health, and develop a sense of inner peace. Both Mindfulness and Yoga have been shown to be effective in reducing substance use and improving treatment outcomes for individuals with addiction. They can help individuals to develop the skills necessary to manage cravings, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. They can also provide an alternative method of stress management that does not involve substance use.


which is based on the traditional Chinese medicine practice of inserting thin:  needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and promote healing.

Art therapy

This uses creative activities such as drawing, painting, and sculpture to help individuals express their feelings and emotions related to their addiction.


It is also an important component of holistic addiction treatment as it can help to improve physical and mental health, relieve stress, and promote overall well-being.

Massage therapy

A therapy that can help to reduce stress, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.

Holistic addiction treatments can prove to be advantageous for some individuals because they address the whole person, rather than just focusing on the addiction. They can also help to improve physical and mental health, relieve stress, and promote overall well-being. It’s also important to consider individual needs and preferences when selecting a treatment program. One of the key things to consider while opting for addiction treatments is that something that is working for others may not work as well for you. This is exactly why personalized addiction treatments are encouraged. 

Final Thoughts on Heroin Addiction Treatment

Thank you for reading this resource on heroin addiction treatment. If you’re struggling with heroin addiction, there is hope. Find a mental health professional that treats heroin addiction here.

The post Heroin Addiction Treatment Options: Everything You Need to Know. appeared first on TherapyByPro.

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