Heroin addiction is a disease plagued by health and legal risks, causing both a mental and physical dependency after only a short period of time. Ridding oneself of this dependency is never easy, though these days, there are a number of therapeutic and medical treatments available to those willing to fight. Whether you are an addict yourself or a concerned friend or a family member, making a point to research the addiction is vital in ensuring the best potential for recovery. In this entry, we will offer up some basic information to get you started on the road to sobriety.
A study performed in 2003 suggested that over 3.7 million people had engaged in heroin use at one time for another. Of this initial figure, 57% were then classified as dependent or addicts. In all, only around 280,000 addicts sought help for their issue.
Withdrawal and Addiction
Just as with any other addiction, heroin withdrawal results in intense cravings. Addicts who use regularly will ultimately become physically dependent, commonly experiencing a variety of withdrawal symptoms, including body aches, diarrhea and vomiting once use has stopped.
Though many heroin users associate detox with pain and discomfort, the detoxification process actually works to minimize the withdrawal symptoms. Most addicts placed in heroin recovery program will be forced to enter a medically monitored detoxification facility prior to continuing their recovery. The detox period varies on a case-by-case basis, but generally lasts between 3 – 10 days.
With over 30 years of success, Methadone has been used as the go-to medication to help address heroin addiction. The medication is provided to individuals once each day to suppress withdrawal symptoms and minimize the cravings associated with the dependency. Other common medications include clonidine, buprenorphine, naltrexone and lofexidine.
Behavioral therapy is often used in combination with medication to ensure the best possibility for long lasting recovery. In addition to inpatient programs, many addicts will be encouraged to continue their treatment on an outpatient basis post-completion.