What Are Some More Detox Options for a Heroin Addict?

Recovering from heroin addiction is an ongoing process that starts with heroin detox. 

During detoxification, your body is purged of opioids and toxic metabolites. As your system rids itself of heroin, a powerful semi-synthetic opioid, withdrawal symptoms manifest.

What is detox for heroin, then?

What is Involved in Heroin Detox and Why Is It So Challenging?

With heroin detox, you address the physical component of heroin use disorder, preparing you to deal with the psychological aspect of addiction through ongoing treatment.

Sustained heroin use impacts the reward centers in your brain. Tolerance to heroin quickly builds, causing you to require more of the drug to generate the same effects, or to use the drug more frequently.

When you ingest heroin in any form, the substance attaches to opioid receptors that occur naturally in the brain and CNS (central nervous system). This chemical interaction activates certain neurons (cells) as their structure is similar to that of endorphins (your body’s natural opioids). Heroin activates these opioid receptors differently than naturally occurring, opioids (endogenous opioids), prompting the transmission of abnormal signals to the brain and brain stem.

If you discontinue the use of heroin after becoming physically dependent on this semi-synthetic opioid, intensely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will present during detox. Many long-term users of heroin who attempt to quit using the drug at home will relapse during detox, using heroin to eliminate withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin withdrawal is similar to withdrawal from prescription opioids, but it is more intense and more challenging.

Engaging with a supervised medical heroin detox is the safest and most effective method of withdrawal.

Complications can arise during detox. Symptoms can also become so severe that relapse seems like the best option. When you are detoxing in the confines of a licensed medical detox center, you will not have access to heroin, minimizing the likelihood of relapse.

Relapse Rates for Heroin Addiction

Addictions like opioid use disorder are classified as chronic and relapsing brain conditions. Like other chronic health conditions, addiction has high relapse rates. Studies show that between 40% and 60% of those who engage with addiction treatment will relapse once or more. Heroin relapse rates are especially high.

This study shows that 91% of those with opioid addictions relapsed after detox. Among those, 54% relapsed within one week.

Additional research indicates that between 72% and 88% of those who quit using heroin relapse after between one and three years of abstinence.

Kickstarting your recovery from heroin addiction with a supervised medical detox will allow you to build the firmest foundation for ongoing treatment and sustained recovery.

What Are the Benefits of Medical Detox?

Medical heroin detox provides you with a safe space in which to withdrawal symptoms can be managed and cravings alleviated.

Life-threatening complications can occur during heroin detox. Someone who is detoxing in a non-clinical setting could become chronically dehydrated. It is also possible to asphyxiate after vomiting during detox.

A supervised medical detox removes these risks and provides continuous emotional and clinical care throughout the week or more of withdrawal.

Relapse is also possible during heroin detox due to the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, clinicians at an inpatient or outpatient heroin rehab can prescribe medications to reduce the severity of both cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The FDA approves the following three medications for treating opioid use disorder:

  1. Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is commonly prescribed during heroin detox to alleviate cravings and to reduce physical withdrawal symptoms like muscle aches and vomiting.
  2. Naltrexone: Naltrexone disrupts naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain. The medication is not sedating, and it is non-addictive. Naltrexone may reduce cravings for heroin over time.
  3. Methadone: Methadone is a long-acting and low-strength opioid used to taper you off heroin and to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is used during ongoing MAT for heroin addiction rather than during detox.

These medications are all opioid agonists. This class of drug binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain as heroin. They also work similarly to heroin, but without delivering a rewarding high.

Detoxing from heroin is a vital step in the recovery process, but it is only the first step.

Once you have addressed the physical aspect of dependence on heroin, you will be ready to tackle the psychological component of addiction in an inpatient or outpatient setting. We can help you achieve this at Gratitude Lodge.

Heroin Detox and Rehab at Gratitude Lodge

If you want to detox from heroin safely and as comfortably as possible, consider taking advantage of our licensed medical detox center at Gratitude Lodge. We offer supervised medical detox programs, inpatient rehab, and intensive outpatient rehab at the following locations in Southern California:

  • San Diego
  • Long Beach
  • Newport Beach

The treatment team can administer FDA-approved medications to mitigate cravings and heroin withdrawal symptoms. They may also prescribe other medications to counter nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, or depression.

After seven to ten days, you can transition into one of our heroin addiction treatment programs. We offer 30-day inpatient programs, and intensive outpatient programs.

Medication-assisted treatment can be effective not just during detox, but also throughout ongoing treatment for heroin addiction. MAT is most beneficial when combined with behavioral therapies. Your treatment team will customize your treatment plan from the following interventions:

  • MAT
  • Psychotherapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

To move from active heroin addiction into detox and ongoing treatment, reach out to Gratitude Lodge today by calling 888-861-1658.