Heroin Addiction Treatment: Heroin Addiction Treatment Success Rates, Types of Treatment, and Statistics.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that around 4.2 million people over the age of twelve have experimented with heroin at some point during their lifetimes. Around one-fourth of people who try heroin develop a crippling addiction to the substance, and there are around 900,000 chronic heroin users in the United States. Heroin is a difficult drug to overcome, but heroin addiction treatment is the first step towards recovery. Several types of treatments can be undertaken to successfully overcome a heroin habit, although heroin addiction treatment success rates vary widely by treatment center or clinic.
What Is Heroin?
Heroin, informally known as smack, horse, H, and black tar, is a sticky brown, black, or white powder that is made from morphine, a substance found naturally in the Asian poppy plant. Heroin users mix the substance with water and inject it into their bodies with a syringe. Heroin can also be snorted up the nose or smoked in a pipe. No matter which route is used to get it into the body, the substance is very addictive.
Why Is Heroin Addictive?
To understand heroin addiction treatment, it is important to understand how heroin affects the brain. When heroin enters the brain, it devolves from its current state back into morphine. Morphine binds to the receptors in the brain that are involved in the perception of pain and reward—opioid receptors. This action causes a sense of euphoria to engulf the user. When the drug wears off, the feeling goes away. It is this longing for the euphoric state induced by heroin that makes it so addictive. This state is described by addicts as a feeling of happiness and well-being. When the body adapts to the presence of the drug, the user will experience symptoms of withdrawal until more of the drug is used.
Many users don’t realize that they have a problem with heroin dependence until they go into withdrawal. Withdrawal from heroin can include bone pain, muscle pain, restlessness, cold flashes, vomiting, and diarrhea. When no heroin is available, users will have severe cravings for it accompanied by symptoms of withdrawal. If you develop an uncontrollable desire for the drug, find it hard to stop using heroin, or continue to use it even though it is causes harm, you may suffer from addiction.
Most heroin addicts realize that they cannot kick the habit on their own, because addiction to opioids is a disease in much the same way diabetes is a disease. Several heroin addiction treatment options can help the heroin addict return to a healthy, normal life. These medications are not used on their own to overcome addiction but are offered in conjunction with counseling and a support network of friends or family when possible. Medications can be given as an inpatient or outpatient treatment, and the type of program that is used can have a big impact on completion and success. When it comes to heroin addiction treatment success rates, as part of an outpatient treatment, medication therapy has a 35 percent completion rate, while the completion rate for a residential program was as high as 65 percent, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Buprenorphine, which is sometimes referred to by its brand names, including Subutex, Zubsolv, or Probuphine, is a popular type of medication that is used to treat heroin addiction. While this medication does not make the user feel high, it tricks the brain into thinking that it is receiving heroin. This keeps symptoms of withdrawal away while reducing cravings for the drug. Another similar medication is Suboxone, which contains not only buprenorphine but also naloxone. Naloxone is an ingredient that will cause symptoms of withdrawal once the drug is injected into the system. This drug is usually taken once daily, or even every other day.
Methadone, also known as Dolophine or Methadose, is a long-acting opioid-agonist medication that is taken orally to dampen the high normally felt by heroin users, because it reaches the brain slowly. Methadone clinics dispense daily doses of the drug to participants. This is an effective medication for managing and overcoming heroin addiction and is often recommended for patients who cannot tolerate other medication-based treatments. Research has shown that this type of medication-assisted treatment for heroin addiction is more effective when combined with a group or individual counseling plan.
Naltrexone, also known as Revia or Depade, is an opioid antagonist that is sometimes preferred over other medication options because it is not addictive and does not act as a sedative or cause physical dependence. Naltrexone is also used for patients who are unable to tolerate an agonist program.
Proven Results with Medication-Based Therapy
In a study conducted by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and published in the “New England Journal of Medicine,” it was shown that each of these medication-assisted therapies were effective, at least to some extent, in countering heroin use. There was little difference in the treatment outcomes of those taking high-dose methadone or burprenorphine, with heroin addiction treatment success rates ranging from 72.7 percent for those in the methadone group to 20 percent for those patients on a low-dose of methadone. Those taking burprenorphine and high-dose methadone saw nearly the same outcomes. Overall among all groups, the rate of heroin use decreased by around 90 percent after treatment was started.
Which Heroin Addiction Treatment Works Best?
An addiction counselor or your doctor can be instrumental in helping you determine which heroin addiction treatment option is the best for you and your particular situation. Regardless of which option you choose, statistics show that overcoming heroin addiction is easier when the condition is approached as a chronic disease and treated with both medication and counseling. Having a good support system in place during heroin addiction treatment is also important, including support from family and friends who understand what you’re going through.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Centers
Nearly every drug treatment center can assist with heroin addiction. Typically, it starts with a medically-supervised detoxification.
Bayside Marin, a San-Francisco area drug treatment facility, explains why heroin detox is so difficult without professional assistance:
“One of the reasons that heroin addiction can be so difficult to overcome is that attempting to stop using can result in the rapid onset of painful withdrawal symptoms. Cramping, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and several other quite unpleasant symptoms can occur within just a few hours after a person’s last dose of heroin. The pain of withdrawal, combined with powerful cravings for heroin, can overcome even the strongest desire to stop using the drug.”
During a medically-supervised detoxification, the addict may be given other drugs to reduce the symptoms and, in extreme cases, may find themselves being knocked out with sedatives so that their body is able to get through the symptoms.
The success rates with medical detox are very high. By helping the addict get through with minimal pain, constant psychological guidance, and the strong support team that a drug treatment facility can offer, an addict has an opportunity to overcome this difficult and deadly addiction.
For more statistics on substance abuse you can read 11 Drug & Alcohol Substance Abuse Statistics