Managing heroin withdrawal for patients who want to live a life without opioids is a major focus for New Life Medical Addiction Services.
Heroin is an illegal, opioid-derived depressant drug that binds to opioid receptors in the brain and creates a number of different side effects. It is one of the most abused of the opiate drugs because it can be injected, smoked, or snorted and, as a result, is very fast acting and potent.
Heroin and other illegal opiates like Fentanyl are seeing increased use because they are substitutes for prescription opioids. The reason for this is that people who use opioids prescribed by a doctor for pain management are eventually cut off from the prescription when their doctor makes the determination that there is no longer a medical need for the drug. People who have become addicted to the prescription opioids then sometimes turn to street drugs like heroin to satisfy their addiction.
Heroin is a fast-acting drug which starts to work almost immediately. Users can experience euphoria, warm flushing of the skin, dry mouth, heaviness in the arms and legs, and poor cognition. These effects can continue for many hours, and users can go from being completely alert to drowsy and listless.
Many issues can result from heroin abuse that can jeopardize a user’s health, including:
- Liver damage
- Kidney disease
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections like Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS
- Collapsed veins
- Open sores and abscesses
Beyond these significant medical issues, overdoses from using Heroin are a real possibility for users. Heroin overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, are of particular concern for users of street heroin because it is impossible to determine the actual composition of the heroin and if it has had any other even more dangerous substances added to it.
Heroin is highly addictive, and it can cause patients to become both physically and psychologically dependent. Very rarely, people can use heroin without developing addictions, however most people get hooked after their first time using. There may be a genetic component to the development of addiction as some risk factors for addiction point to a family history of substance abuse.
Patients who use heroin on a regular basis quickly develop a tolerance to it and need to use increasingly larger doses of the drug to maintain their high. Since the body gets used to the presence of heroin over time, patients who stop using can experience severe withdrawal symptoms including:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Muscle and bone pain
- Insomnia or restlessness
- Cold flashes
Heroin withdrawal symptoms can begin within hours of the last dose and typically continue for about one week. Addiction to heroin is so powerful that some heroin addicts report withdrawal symptoms that last for many weeks or months.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms and the extreme cravings that accompany it are the primary cause of relapse for those looking to end their heroin abuse. To minimize heroin cravings and the accompanying withdrawal symptoms, the heroin detox program at New Life Medical Addiction Services utilizes Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT).
The doctors and clinicians at New Life know that a patient who engages in detox without any follow-up care is at high risk for relapse. As a result, we view our medication assisted approach to heroin detox as a critical first step in the journey that our patients must take to in developing a healthy lifestyle and the coping skill that will allow them to prevent a future relapse.
New Life’s Approach to the treatment of Heroin Addiction
New Life Medical Addiction Services specializes in Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) as its approach to heroin and opioid detox and rehab. Outpatient detox and rehab means that our patients can live at home and continue with their work, studies, and family life while they get better. Our treatment is ideal for the large number of patients who don’t want to commit to an expensive 30-day inpatient rehab.
Our patients are able to receive their medications at our Marlton, NJ offices and meet with our clinicians and peer counselors either in-person or virtually while they maintain their family, school and business relationships. Maintaining as much of a normal lifestyle while a patient recovers from addiction can be a key ingredient to a successful outcome.
The New Life Process
Step One: Withdrawal
The first step in the treatment process is detoxification, which is when a patient stops taking heroin. Withdrawal can feel like a terrible case of the flu, and patients can experience a range of unpleasant symptoms including sweats, fevers, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
The board-certified doctors at New Life will prescribe drugs like Buprenorphine and Naltrexone to ease the withdrawal symptoms, and then gradually taper the patient off these drugs. In our experience, the flu-like withdrawal symptoms can last up to a week, but the worst of it typically ends after the first two days.
Step Two: Treatment
Once our patients have completed detox, they will attend classes and therapy sessions with counselors, as well as support meetings with others in treatment. Through this, they learn how to deal with the triggers (people, places and things) that could make them want to use heroin again.
Step Three: Maintenance
Once our patients have completed their outpatient detox treatment, our counseling and ongoing therapy begin. Studies show that people who remain in treatment and stay connected to support groups for at least one year are more likely to stay sober after rehab.
Counseling for Recovering Heroin Addicts
New Life has licensed certified mental health specialists and licensed certified drug and alcohol councilors on staff to provide counseling to our patients who have gone through heroin withdrawal and are in the recovery process. Our highly trained professionals are skilled at helping our patients understand the root causes of their addictions and to help them stick with their recovery by changing their attitudes and behaviors towards drug use and by helping them engage in healthy life skills.
The kinds of counseling that New Life offers includes:
- Individual counseling, which can include discussing the problems and stresses which could have been the trigger for their drug misuse. It can also include setting goals, talking about setbacks, and celebrating the progress a patient has made in the path to recovery.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps our patients recognize the negative patterns of thinking and behavior which lead to their heroin addiction and reveals ways to change that behavior. It also provides the kind of coping skills that helps our patients manage the stressors that will prevent a relapse.
- Group counseling, which gives our patients a chance to learn about the difficulties and challenges others are having and to illuminate strategies for dealing with the situations they may come across.
- Family counseling, which includes partners or spouses and other family members who are close to the patient. Family counseling can be a critical step in the healing process when bad or disruptive behavior has damaged family relationships.
- Peer coaching where staff members who have had their own problems with alcoholism and alcohol abuse can provide insight through their own experiences.
Helping our patients through heroin withdrawal and their eventual recovery are core to the New Life mission. We are available 24/7/365 to help you or your loved one start the process. Feel free to call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message