July 21, 2023

Heroin Addiction Treatment

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Heroin addiction treatment typically involves a combination of medication-assisted treatment, therapy, counseling, and support groups to address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction to this deadly opiate.

This guide explores the following issues:

  • Why is heroin so addictive?
  • What makes heroin addictive?
  • How addictive is heroin?
  • How to treat heroin addiction effectively.
  • Heroin addiction help and heroin addiction rehab in Southern California.

What Makes Heroin So Addictive?

Heroin is an illicit Schedule I narcotic that is extremely addictive due to its potent effects on the brain and body. Both white heroin and black tar heroin are equally addictive, with the following factors contributing to its highly addictive profile:

  • Rapid onset and intense pleasure: When heroin is smoked, snorted, or injected, the substance rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and binds to mu-opioid receptors in the brain. This rapid onset leads to an intense rush of euphoria and pleasure, delivering a complete sense of relaxation. This immediate and powerful reward reinforces the desire to repeat the experience.
  • Chemical changes in the brain: Heroin activates the brain’s reward system by increasing the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. The flood of dopamine creates a strong association between heroin use and the pleasurable effects, leading to cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behavior.
  • Tolerance and dependence: With continued heroin use, the brain adapts by reducing the number of opioid receptors and decreasing the natural production of dopamine. This results in the development of tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. As tolerance increases, individuals may become physically dependent on heroin, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit or reduce use to initiate heroin recovery.
  • Psychological and emotional factors: Heroin addiction often involves psychological and emotional factors that contribute to its grip on individuals. Many people turn to heroin as a means of coping with underlying issues such as trauma, stress, mental health disorders, or chronic pain. The temporary relief provided by heroin can create a cycle of self-medication and escape from emotional pain, reinforcing the addictive behavior.
  • Cravings and withdrawal symptoms: A heroin addict typically experiences intense cravings, which can be triggered by environmental cues, social situations, or emotional stressors. Additionally, when attempting to stop or reduce heroin use, individuals may experience debilitating withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, muscle aches, anxiety, insomnia, and intense drug cravings. The fear of withdrawal and the desire to avoid these unpleasant symptoms can further perpetuate addiction.
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Dangers of Using Heroin

Using heroin poses significant dangers and risks to both physical and mental health. Here are some of the key dangers associated with heroin use:

  • Overdose: Heroin overdose is a grave risk due to its potency and the difficulty in determining the purity and strength of street heroin. Taking a higher dose than the body can handle can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and even death. Overdose risk is heightened when heroin is combined with other substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines.
  • Transmission of bloodborne diseases: Sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia for heroin use increases the risk of contracting bloodborne diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C. These diseases can have long-term health consequences and are often difficult to treat.
  • Collapsed veins and infections: Repeated injection of heroin can cause veins to collapse or become damaged, making it challenging to find suitable injection sites. This can result in the use of riskier injection methods, leading to abscesses, cellulitis, and other skin and soft tissue infections. In severe cases, infections can spread to vital organs, posing life-threatening complications.
  • Organ damage: Heroin use can have detrimental effects on various organs in the body. Chronic intravenous use can damage the heart, leading to infections of the heart lining and valves (endocarditis). Additionally, liver and kidney damage can occur due to the contaminants present in illicitly produced heroin or as a result of prolonged drug use.
  • Respiratory problems: Heroin depresses the central nervous system, slowing down respiration and breathing. This can lead to respiratory distress, shallow breathing, and even respiratory failure. Combining heroin with other substances that also depress breathing, such as alcohol or sedatives, increases the risk of respiratory complications and can be life-threatening.
  • Mental health issues: Heroin use is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems. Chronic heroin use can lead to cognitive impairments, memory problems, and difficulties with decision-making. It can also exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions or contribute to the development of new ones, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and antisocial personality disorder.
  • Social and legal consequences: Heroin addiction often leads to strained relationships, isolation, and financial problems. Legal consequences, such as arrests and incarceration, are also common due to the illicit nature of heroin use and possession.

How to Get Help for Heroin Addiction

To get help for heroin addiction, individuals can reach out to healthcare professionals, addiction treatment centers, or helplines. Treatment options may include detoxification, residential or outpatient programs, therapy, and support groups.

How to Help a Heroin Addict

Supporting a heroin addict involves encouraging them to seek professional help, providing emotional support, educating yourself about addiction, avoiding enabling behaviors, and connecting them with resources such as addiction treatment centers or support groups.


What helps reduce withdrawal symptoms?

There are several approaches to reducing withdrawal symptoms, including medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and support groups.

What is methadone used for?

Methadone is a medication commonly used in the treatment of opioid addiction. It helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing individuals to stabilize their lives and focus on recovery.

What is suboxone?

Suboxone is a prescription medication that contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, helping to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings.

How long does a withdrawal episode last?

The duration of a withdrawal episode can vary depending on factors such as the substance used and individual circumstances. Generally, withdrawal symptoms peak within the first few days of detox and gradually subside over the course of one to two weeks.

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Heroin Addiction Treatment Benefits

Heroin addiction treatment offers many benefits for those seeking to overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives. These include:

  • Safe detoxification: Heroin addiction treatment programs provide a safe and supportive environment for detoxification. Medical professionals can monitor and manage the withdrawal process, minimizing discomfort and ensuring safety during this critical phase.
  • Medical and therapeutic support: Treatment programs offer a combination of medical and therapeutic interventions tailored to individual needs. Medications like methadone or buprenorphine can be prescribed to reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Behavioral therapies like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) and MI (motivational interviewing), help individuals address underlying issues, learn coping skills, and develop strategies for relapse prevention.
  • Comprehensive approach: Heroin addiction treatment takes a holistic approach, addressing not only the physical dependence but also the psychological, emotional, and social aspects of addiction. It focuses on healing the whole person, promoting overall well-being and long-term recovery.
  • Relapse prevention: Treatment programs equip individuals with the necessary tools and skills to prevent relapse. They learn effective coping mechanisms, develop strategies to manage triggers and cravings, and receive ongoing support and guidance to navigate challenges in early recovery.
  • Access to supportive communities: Treatment programs often provide access to support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) or other peer support networks. These communities offer a sense of belonging, understanding, and ongoing support from individuals who have experienced similar struggles, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and providing a network of accountability.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment: Many people with heroin addictions also have underlying mental health issues. Treatment programs that offer dual diagnosis treatment address both addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders simultaneously, ensuring comprehensive care and improved outcomes.
  • Improved overall health: Heroin addiction takes a heavy toll on physical health. Treatment allows individuals to break free from the cycle of drug use, reducing the risk of overdose, infections, and organ damage. With sustained recovery, overall physical health improves, leading to increased energy, better sleep, and enhanced well-being.
  • Rebuilding relationships and restoring functionality: Treatment provides an opportunity to mend relationships strained by addiction. It allows individuals to rebuild trust, repair damaged connections, and strengthen family and social support systems. It also helps people regain functionality in various aspects of life, from employment and education to relationships and personal responsibilities.

By pursuing heroin addiction treatment, people can experience these benefits, break free from the grip of addiction, and embark on a path of lasting recovery and a healthier, more fulfilling life. Heroin addiction recovery is challenging but achievable.

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Get Treatment for Heroin Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you have developed an addiction to opiates, we can help you fight back at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California. Our pet-friendly heroin addiction treatment centers in Newport Beach and Long Beach, CA deliver heroin detox and addiction treatment.

Engage with our supervised heroin detox program to minimize the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce the likelihood of complications or relapse derailing your early recovery. After detox, you can transition into ongoing inpatient treatment. Here, you can access the following heroin addiction treatments:

  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Aftercare support

When you are ready to unchain yourself from active heroin addiction, call 800-994-2184 for immediate assistance.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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Dual Diagnosis

Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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Sober Living

Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
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Outpatient Treatment

Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
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Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.