Skip to main content

What Does Treatment for Heroin Look Like?

Written on October 20, 2023
What Does Treatment for Heroin Look Like?

Heroin, an opioid derived from morphine, has taken countless lives and ensnared many more in the clutches of addiction. Whether it’s stories in the media or the experiences of loved ones, the devastation of heroin addiction is apparent. Fortunately, for those seeking to break free, there is hope. Treatment for heroin addiction has advanced over the years, providing effective solutions for those ready to reclaim their lives. Let’s delve into what the journey of recovery looks like for someone battling this affliction.

Understanding the Severity of Heroin Use

In the United States, heroin is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule I substances are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Other drugs in this category include LSD, marijuana, ecstasy (MDMA), and methaqualone.

This classification means that the manufacture, distribution, and possession of heroin are illegal and penalties for trafficking or possession can be severe. This scheduling reflects the government’s position on the drug’s high potential for abuse and lack of accepted medical use in the U.S.

Heroin’s pull is so strong primarily because of the intense euphoria it produces. And also, the severe withdrawal symptoms that follow when the drug’s effects wear off. This combination leads to a vicious cycle of increasing dependence and escalating doses. Moreover, the risk of overdose, tainted supplies, or sharing needles can lead to fatal consequences or other serious complications like infections and diseases.

Effective Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Heroin ensnares countless individuals in its web of dependence. Thereby, casting shadows over lives and communities. Its grip is relentless. Often plunging users into a vicious cycle of euphoria and despair—punctuated by the looming fear of withdrawal symptoms. Yet, even in the depths of addiction, hope flickers. The road to recovery, though challenging, is treatable. 

Heroin addiction treatment has evolved. Thus, combining medical, psychological, and holistic approaches to offer those entangled in its grasp a lifeline back to light, health, and freedom. This exploration delves into the multifaceted journey of recovery, unveiling the transformative power of comprehensive heroin addiction treatment.

Initial Steps: Detoxification

The first hurdle of treatment for heroin addiction is detoxification. Detox is the process where the body rids itself of the drug and adjusts to its absence. Given the severe withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin, which include pain, sleep disturbances, vomiting, and intense drug cravings, detox must be achieved under close medical supervision. In many cases, medications are administered to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and minimize cravings.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) stands at the forefront of modern addiction treatment strategies. Thereby, offering a scientifically-backed approach to overcoming opioid addiction, including heroin. By utilizing FDA-approved medications in conjunction with behavioral therapies, MAT addresses both the physiological and psychological aspects of addiction. 

Medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone play pivotal roles in alleviating withdrawal symptoms, reducing cravings, and blocking the euphoric effects of opioids. This integrated treatment not only enhances the chances of sustained recovery but also reduces the potential for opioid overdose, presenting a holistic solution to a multifaceted challenge.

One of the cornerstones of heroin addiction treatment is MAT. Some of the medications used include:


A long-acting opioid, methadone can be administered daily to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Whereas, it acts on the same receptors as heroin but without producing the euphoria. Over time, the dose can be gradually reduced until the individual no longer requires it.


Often known as Suboxone when combined with naloxone. This medication reduces or eliminates withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It acts as a partial opioid agonist, providing milder effects than full opioids.


Unlike the aforementioned medications, naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids. Therefore, if a person tries to use heroin while on naltrexone, they won’t feel any of the drug’s effects, thus discouraging its use.

Ultimately, these medications can be essential in preventing relapse and helping individuals transition to a drug-free life.

Holistic Approach

Many treatment centers like Flatirons Recovery incorporate holistic and alternative therapies into their programs. Yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and art therapy are some modalities that can be beneficial for those in recovery. These treatments offer ways to cope with stress, find inner peace, and connect with oneself on a deeper level.

Behavioral Therapies and Counseling

Medication alone isn’t the complete answer to addiction treatment services. Behavioral therapies play a pivotal role in heroin addiction treatment. These therapies address the root causes, behaviors, and triggers associated with drug use. Some of the commonly used therapies include:

Individual counseling

Individual counseling is the foundation of the comprehensive approach to treatment for heroin addiction. By offering a private, one-on-one setting with a trained therapist, individuals are given the space to delve deeply into the underlying causes of their addiction. Thus, addressing personal traumas, triggers, and behavioral patterns. 

This personalized therapeutic approach not only facilitates introspection but also equips individuals with tailored coping strategies and tools for sustained recovery. Through consistent sessions, individuals chart their progress, confront challenges, and bolster their resilience against relapse. Thereby, making individual counseling an invaluable component of the healing journey.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) serves as an important tool in the arsenal against heroin addiction. Rooted in the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, CBT empowers individuals to identify and challenge maladaptive thought patterns that fuel their addiction. So, by replacing these with healthier, constructive alternatives, individuals learn to respond differently to triggers and stressful situations. 

The structured sessions of CBT provide a framework for understanding the cycle of addiction. Thereby, equipping individuals with practical skills to prevent relapse and foster long-term recovery. As an evidence-based therapeutic approach, CBT offers both insight and actionable strategies for those battling heroin addiction. This helps individuals recognize, avoid, and cope with situations where they might be tempted to use heroin.

Contingency Management

Contingency Management (CM) is a reward-based intervention strategy widely employed in addiction treatment settings. By providing tangible rewards or incentives in response to verified drug-free behaviors or other therapeutic milestones, CM reinforces positive behavioral changes in individuals battling addiction. 

Accordingly, this approach capitalizes on the immediate benefits of reward-driven actions, increasing motivation and promoting adherence to recovery goals. Whether through vouchers, cash incentives, or privileges, Contingency Management offers a practical tool to encourage and maintain abstinence. Therefore, making it an invaluable component in the landscape of addiction treatment.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) is a client-centered approach designed to spur rapid, internally motivated change in individuals battling addiction. Unlike traditional forms of therapy that guide clients through a step-by-step recovery process, MET focuses on resolving uncertainty and sparking a genuine drive to commit to treatment. 

Through a series of structured sessions, therapists employ motivational interviewing techniques to help individuals recognize the adverse impacts of their substance use and the benefits of cessation. By tapping into and increasing an individual’s motivations and resources for change, MET serves as a powerful incentive, accelerating entry into treatment and bolstering engagement in the recovery journey.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is a powerful tool in addiction treatment, offering both therapeutic guidance and the invaluable support of peers. For many, it becomes a critical part of their recovery. Thus, providing a space of understanding, growth, and hope amidst the challenges of overcoming addiction.

Family Involvement

Family involvement plays a crucial role in the recovery journey of individuals battling addiction. Recognizing that addiction does not exist in a vacuum but affects the entire family system, many treatment programs actively integrate family therapy and education sessions. These interventions are designed to mend strained relationships, address enabling behaviors, and equip family members with the tools to support their loved one’s recovery. 

When families are educated and involved, they not only provide a stronger support network but also create a more understanding and conducive environment for the individual’s long-term sobriety. In essence, family involvement transforms the recovery journey from a solitary endeavor to a collective pursuit of healing and renewal.

Aftercare Following Heroin Addiction Treatment

The journey of recovery from heroin addiction doesn’t end when initial treatment is over. Continued support through group therapies like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery provides the community and accountability needed to maintain sobriety. Aftercare and relapse prevention planning are also critical components to ensure long-term success.

Begin Treatment for Heroin Addiction at Flatirons Recovery 

Battling heroin addiction is no small feat. Whether an inpatient or outpatient program, it requires dedication and resilience. And, most importantly, the right support system. Many individuals have successfully turned their lives around with a combination of medical, psychological, and holistic therapies at Flatirons Recovery. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin addiction, know that help is available and recovery is achievable. Embrace the path of healing and move towards a brighter, healthier future.

Contact us today to learn more about our holistic approach to treatment for heroin addiction.