Recovery is not an easy road, and it can be extremely difficult to overcome heroin addiction. According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research, “Heroin is a highly addictive drug regardless of the route of administration” and many people continue to abuse it “even after they no longer experience the euphoric effects” in order to relieve the severe, flu-like withdrawal symptoms it causes.
However, you can receive treatment for heroin addiction and, eventually, stop abusing the drug. It may take even longer to feel strong and stable in your recovery, but this is possible with hard work and professional care.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
As stated by the National Institutes of Health, “Addiction (to opiates and other drugs) is recognized as a chronic, relapsing brain disease with a wide range of serious medical consequences.” It can be treated with several methods, though, which can be used together in varying ways based on the individual’s needs.
- Methadone is an opioid agonist that reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings and minimizes the chance of relapse. A person can slowly withdraw with the help of methadone or stay maintained on the drug as long as necessary.
- Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, newer than methadone, that works much in the same way as methadone does. However, it is often safer from abuse and overdose because it is only a partial agonist and is usually paired with naloxone when prescribed to patients.
- Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that precipitates withdrawal in anyone still dependent on opioids, so it must be taken after the withdrawal period is over. Though it is not as well tolerated as the other two drugs, it can be beneficial for certain individuals.
- Behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, group therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy are an essential part of heroin addiction treatment that help patients change their beliefs toward drug abuse and learn better coping skills.
- Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous and SMART Recovery can be very beneficial either during or after formal addiction treatment.
Can Someone Overcome Heroin Addiction – And How Long Will It Take?
Getting over an addiction, especially to a drug like heroin, takes time and patience, and it will not happen immediately. In fact, even after you attend treatment and do not take heroin for several months or years, you may still feel that you are addicted to the drug. Addiction takes management and treatment, sometimes for the rest of a person’s life. But you can overcome the hold heroin has on you by receiving the right treatments and working hard.
The treatments above have all been found to be “effective at helping patients stop using heroin and return to stable and productive lives” (National Institute on Drug Abuse). Treatment can create an enormous difference in your life and allow you to make the changes you want to see. Cravings for the drug may still resurface at times, but you will be prepared to handle them after going through treatment. You may also need to attend more rehab programs later on in order to keep your recovery strong.