What are the Best Ways to Treat a Heroin Addiction?

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In Pennsylvania, heroin use has been rising for years. As a matter of fact, the opioid and heroin crisis is the number one public health and public safety challenge facing the state. In 2021, 5,168 Pennsylvanians died from overdoses. This is an average of 14 people every day. Based on available data, these numbers are expected to rise. 

When you or a loved one is experiencing addiction, particularly to a drug as addictive as heroin, it’s normal to feel lost and alone. But, help is available. When you come to Recovery Cove in Easton, PA, all you need is a willingness to work our program. We provide a safe and caring space and teach our clients the tools and strategies they need to build a life that embraces sobriety. 

Recovering from a heroin addiction may not be easy, but it’s not impossible either. Below are the best ways to treat an addiction to heroin. 

Pharmacological Treatments 

Pharmacological treatments (medications) have been well researched in the context of opioid use disorders. This research has shown that the right combination of medications can increase retention in treatment programs and decrease drug use, infectious disease transmission and criminal activity. 

The medications used to treat heroin addiction have a couple different purposes. First, they are helpful during the detox stage, as they ease cravings and other physical symptoms that could cause a person to relapse. Second, these medications can help a person remain abstinent, as they work on the same receptors as heroin. However, they are safer and less likely to produce the harmful behaviors associated with addiction. 

The three medications approved by the FDA and used by heroin addiction treatment centers are: 

  • Methadone. This is a slow-acting opioid agonist that dampens the high that comes with heroin and prevents withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is only available through approved outpatient treatment programs and is dispensed on a daily basis.
  • Buprenorphine. This is a partial opioid agonist that relieves drug cravings without producing a high. If a person does use heroin while taking this medication, they will experience unpleasant withdrawal effects. This treatment is less expensive than methadone, with implants and injections approved, eliminating the need for daily dosing.
  • Naltrexone. An opioid antagonist, naltrexone blocks the action of opioids. It’s not addictive or sedating, and it does not result in physical dependence. However, some people have trouble complying with the treatment. Fortunately, a longer acting version of the medication has been approved, eliminating daily dosing. 

Behavioral Therapies 

While medication is effective at reducing cravings and managing withdrawal symptoms, it does not address the root cause of the heroin use, nor does it teach healthy behaviors. Therefore, behavioral therapies are also crucial when treating a heroin addiction. 

The two most commonly used behavioral therapies for heroin addiction are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM). CBT teaches people how to identify the negative thought patterns and beliefs that may be contributing to their substance use. This therapy also helps individuals develop healthier ways to cope with stress. 

Contingency management interventions encourage behavior modification by rewarding individuals for remaining abstinent. Typically, the person will take a drug test, and as long as it’s negative, they are rewarded with some type of money, gift or voucher. These rewards often support a healthy lifestyle and may include things like gym memberships or restaurant gift certificates.

Heroin Addiction Treatment Center in Easton, PA

Recovery Cove treats opioid use disorders in a convenient outpatient setting. Our clients are able to work, go to school and manage their responsibilities at home while receiving personalized, high-quality care. To learn more about our programs, including our evidence-based treatments for heroin addiction, contact us today at 484-549-COVE