If you or someone you know is struggling with heroin addiction, seeking help from a heroin detox center in Cohasset, MA, could be your first step toward recovery. Heroin dependence is a serious chronic condition requiring a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program.
Fortunately, addiction therapy programs in Massachusetts offer a range of evidence-based treatments, including medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapies, and support services, to help patients achieve and maintain recovery. With the proper treatment and support, individuals with heroin dependence can overcome addiction and rebuild their lives.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is derived from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant. Heroin can be consumed in several ways, including injecting, smoking, or snorting. When heroin enters the brain, it is converted back into morphine, which binds to opioid receptors, producing a rush of pleasure and relief from pain. However, the repeated use of heroin can lead to physical and psychological dependence, making it difficult to quit.
Heroin Use Disorder
Heroin use disorder, also known as heroin addiction, is a chronic disease that affects the brain and behavior. It is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and drug use. Heroin use disorder can cause various physical, psychological, and social problems, including overdose, infectious diseases, mental health disorders, financial problems, and legal issues. Some of the symptoms include:
- Taking heroin in larger amounts or for a longer period than intended
- Craving or a strong desire to use heroin
- Failing to fulfill significant role obligations at work, school, or home due to heroin use
- Continued use of heroin despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of the drug
- Giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of heroin use
- Using heroin in situations where it is physically hazardous
- Continued use of heroin despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by heroin
- Developing tolerance, which means that higher doses of heroin are needed to achieve the desired effects
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goosebumps, and involuntary leg movements when attempting to quit or reduce heroin use.
The severity of heroin use disorder is classified as mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of symptoms present.
How to Treat Heroin Dependence?
Heroin dependence is a chronic condition requiring comprehensive and individualized treatment. The most effective treatment for heroin dependence is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone, with behavioral therapies and support services. MAT has been shown to reduce the risk of overdose, improve retention in treatment, and increase the likelihood of long-term recovery. Some of these include:
Medications for Heroin Dependence
Methadone is a synthetic opioid that is taken orally once a day. It works by blocking the effects of heroin and reducing withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is dispensed through specialized clinics, and patients must visit the clinic daily to receive their dose. Methadone has been used for over 45 years to treat heroin dependence and has been shown to reduce the risk of overdose, decrease drug use, and improve social functioning.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist taken sublingually or as a film placed under the tongue. It works by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms and blocking the effects of other opioids. Buprenorphine can be prescribed by qualified healthcare providers in office-based settings, which increases access to treatment for patients in rural or underserved areas. Buprenorphine is as effective as methadone in treating heroin dependence, with fewer side effects and a lower risk of overdose.
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist taken orally or as a monthly injection. It works by blocking the effects of opioids and reducing the risk of relapse. Naltrexone is not a replacement for opioid agonists like methadone or buprenorphine. Still, it can be used as a maintenance treatment for patients who have completed detoxification and are highly motivated to remain abstinent. Naltrexone has been shown to reduce cravings and improve treatment outcomes when used in conjunction with behavioral therapies.
Behavioral Therapies for Heroin Dependence
Behavioral therapies are an essential component of MAT for heroin dependence. They aim to address the underlying psychological and social factors that contribute to drug use and promote positive changes in behavior. The following are some of the commonly used behavioral therapies for heroin dependence:
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented therapy that focuses on changing negative thoughts and behaviors related to drug use. It helps patients develop coping skills and strategies to manage triggers and cravings.
Motivational interviewing (MI) is a patient-centered therapy that aims to enhance motivation and commitment to change. It helps patients identify and explore their ambivalence about drug use and develop a plan for change.
Support Services for Heroin Dependence
Support services are critical for patients with heroin dependence to maintain their recovery and improve their quality of life. Peer support groups provide a supportive and non-judgmental environment for patients to share their experiences and receive encouragement from others in recovery. Case management services help patients navigate the healthcare system and access social services like housing, employment, and legal assistance.
The goal of treatment is not only to reduce drug use but also to improve overall health and well-being, restore functioning, and enhance social integration. With the proper treatment and support, patients with heroin dependence can lead fulfilling and productive lives.