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How to Successfully Treat Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is a complex disease; if it is not effectively treated, it will only worsen over time.

Over the past two decades, heroin abuse and addiction rates have increased. Heroin abuse has quickly become one of the most significant health-related concerns throughout the country. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently reported that heroin use has been increasing significantly since 2007. NIDA noted that this was likely due to an increase in prescription medication during the early and mid-1990s. Once healthcare professionals realized how habit-forming opioid narcotic pain relievers truly were, the government cracked down harshly on distribution. Unfortunately, many individuals had already developed substance dependence disorders by that time. Heroin was easier to obtain and significantly more affordable, thus the widespread transition from painkillers to illicit opioid narcotics.

Like all other chronic diseases, heroin addiction can be adequately treated. However, the method of treatment is very important. Individuals who are suffering from heroin abuse or addiction and attempt to quit on their own will not likely be successful for an extended period. One of the predominant symptoms of heroin withdrawal is intense psychological cravings – these cravings generally lead individuals back to using before the detox process is complete. Individuals suffering from heroin abuse or addiction must seek professional medical care. Otherwise, they will likely relapse within the first week of ceased use.

How to Treat Heroin Addiction

How is heroin addiction treated? In the case of this specific drug, there will always need to be a multi-phased treatment process, beginning with a medically monitored detox. During medical detox, the individual will undergo various treatment methods, all ultimately geared toward physical stabilization. In the case of heroin, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is generally utilized. Prescribing physicians who are a part of the medical detox team will prescribe medications like suboxone, which is beneficial in alleviating symptoms of withdrawal and helping to alleviate psychological and physical cravings. In most cases, heroin withdrawal will last between one and two weeks – however, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last for much longer (up to a year when left untreated).

Once medical detox is complete, the individual must transfer directly to an inpatient treatment program to prevent relapse. This is where most of the psychological, emotional, and behavioral work will be done. In most cases, this phase of the treatment process will last for between one and three months, but it might last longer in severe cases of heroin addiction. Once inpatient treatment is complete, the individual will move on to aftercare. Aftercare generally consists of a prolonged stay at a sober living facility and intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment. The goal of sober living is to prepare clients for a return to completely independent living.

Absolute Awakenings and Heroin Addiction

At Absolute Awakenings, we help our clients during every single step of the recovery process. Heroin addiction is a complex disease; if it is not effectively treated, it will only worsen over time. One of the biggest concerns of untreated heroin addiction is a drug-related overdose. Heroin abuse is extremely prevalent -according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over 902,000 American adults admitted to using heroin in 2020 alone. If you or someone you love has been actively abusing heroin, we at Absolute Awakenings are available to help. Give us a call today, and our treatment advisors will help get you started on your journey of heroin addiction recovery as soon as possible.


  1. Huecker MR, Koutsothanasis GA, Abbasy MSU, Marraffa J. Heroin. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 17, 2023.
  2. Shah M, Huecker MR. Opioid Withdrawal. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 17, 2023.
  3. Suboxone Uses, Dosage, Side Effects & Warnings. Accessed January 17, 2023.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What is the scope of heroin use in the United States? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed January 17, 2023.

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