Josh Chandler | December 13, 2017

What’s Involved in Medication Assisted Treatment for Heroin (And Does It Work)?

Heroin withdrawals may eat into your will to abstain. Medication assisted treatment for heroin can ease the detox and transition processes. Find out how it works here.

Your body is wracked with pain as you suffer through what feels like a never-ending flu combined with diarrhea, sweats, and chills. And your mind is no better off, wracked with despair. But fortunately, there is a way to ease the heroin detox process: medication assisted treatment for heroin.

Statistics show that from 2000 to 2015, the number of overdose deaths related to heroin increased four times. In addition, nearly 13,000 people passed away in 2015.

Trying to break free from the clutches of heroin can feel like riding a physical and psychological roller coaster. You can stomach it only for so long.

However, medication assisted treatment for heroin may help you to rehabilitate from heroin addiction. In other words, you can reclaim your life.

Not sure how it works, or if it is right for you? We’ve got your answers here.

Medication Assisted Treatment for Heroin: A Widespread Need

Addiction to heroin — which is also called an opiate or opioid –affects people both young and old, but young people appear to be most affected by it.

Research shows that the drug’s use has more than doubled during the past 10 years for young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Unfortunately, for young people who struggle with addiction to heroin, only a small percentage of them will receive medications proven to help them to overcome their drug addiction.

In 2013, only 2 percent of people in the adolescent age group were given medication assisted therapy. Meanwhile, the percentage was much larger for adults addicted to heroin — at 26%.

As public awareness of medication assisted therapy increases, perhaps more adolescents and even adults will take advantage of it.

The drug Suboxone is particularly recommended for teenagers who have opioid use disorders that are severe.

How Does Medication Assisted Treatment for Heroin Work?

In many situations, using medication assisted therapy for heroin may boost a patient’s chances of being able to recover from heroin addiction long term.

Treatment that incorporates the use of medication can be particularly useful early on in your recovery stage. That’s when your body is trying to get used to operating without depending on the drug to which you have become addicted.

The process may lead to vomiting, chills, nausea, and pain that last anywhere from a week to an entire month.

Although the physical withdrawal symptoms from heroin can be ruthless, the emotional ones may last months. Clearly, they can take an even greater toll on your quality of life.

These symptoms include the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

With medications such as Subutex and Suboxone, you can experience a reduction of these withdrawal symptoms. This will help to reduce your craving for heroin.

The medication will also prevent your brain from experiencing the effects of heroin.

It’s why the majority of detoxifications that occur at drug treatment facilities involve medication use.

Why is This Treatment Recommended for Heroin Addicts?

An opiate such as heroin crosses the brain-blood barrier and attaches to brain cell receptors. This triggers the high you feel when you consume the drug.

And the more you use the drug, the more you need greater amounts of it to experience the same high.

The drug essentially rewires your brain and thus changes how you feel pleasure. As a result, breaking your addiction to heroin can be both physically and mentally demanding.

That’s where medication assisted treatment comes in. It helps to break the link between consuming heroin and experiencing an immediate high.

Is Medication Assisted Therapy for Heroin Effective?

Research backs up the idea that medication assisted therapy can reduce addicts’ mortality rate by a whopping 50% or more.

This form of therapy is so effective because medications such as Suboxone and Subutex are buprenorphine-based.

Buprenorphine is an opioid just like heroin is, so it can fulfill your cravings and put a halt to your frustrating withdrawal symptoms.

As a result, in theory, you don’t feel the need to touch heroin again because you no longer have to be concerned with avoiding withdrawal.

Therefore, you reduce your chances of relapsing and overdosing.

Medical Setting Needed

The trick to making this type of therapy work for you is to undergo it in a medical setting that is safe and structured.

When you take buprenorphine-based medications as prescribed, you won’t experience the addictive and thus deadly euphoria you experience when abusing an opioid such as heroin.

Medication assisted therapy is particularly helpful in that it weans your body off of a problematic drug slowly. This is the same experience that cigarette smokers have when they go through nicotine replacement therapy.

This progressive approach increases patients’ odds of continuing with treatment.

With the safely administered medication you receive in place of deadly heroin, you can start to function like you used to before your addiction became a problem. In other words, you can finally start to lead a normal life long term.

How is Medication Assisted Therapy Different from Traditional Treatment Approaches?

Traditional addiction treatment programs often emphasize abstinence. Patients use the help of a support group to complete 12 steps focused on a combination of moralistic and spiritual ideals.

Some of these programs permit medication assisted therapy, but others require complete abstinence.

Research, however, indicates that this is not a good idea for heroin addicts. This is because medication is the care standard for addressing opioid addictions.

How we Can Help

We offer buprenorphine-based medication assisted treatment for heroin.

Buprenorphine, unlike other medications, such as naltrexone, is often easier to start on. (A detoxification period is necessary for naltrexone.) This is why this relatively new drug is gaining ground.

But we realize that every patient is different, so what works for one person might not work for another. That’s why we provided customized therapy that meets you where you are right now.

We combine our clinically supervised medication assisted therapy with traditional rehabilitation efforts. This will lead to a much more comfortable and successful detoxification process for you.

Contact us to find out how you can experience your first day on the road to long-lasting recovery with our help.

Addiction,Drug Addiction,Drug Detox,Drug Rehab,Heroin Addiction,Heroin Rehab,Inpatient Rehab,Medication Assisted Treatment,Recovery,Rehab,Suboxone,Treatment,
Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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