How Are Withdrawal Symptoms and Cravings Managed During Detox?
Throughout a medical detox the individual will be closely monitored, with medication provided as heroin withdrawal symptoms ramp up. Detox nurses will utilize various medications to help ease the symptoms while also offering the emotional support that can help usher the individual through to completion. Simple over-the-counter medications can alleviate the muscle aches, fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea symptoms.
Increasingly, heroin and opioid detox require the use of medication, using certain opioid antagonists and agonists to help control craving and slowly reduce the desire for the drug. These medications may include buprenorphine, and naltrexone, and are prescribed in certain cases to better help with relapse prevention. In most cases, the drugs are prescribed for a limited time, such as 3-6 months before a tapering schedule commences, but in some cases long-term use of these drugs is warranted.
After Detox, Next Steps
Once detox has been completed the individual will be in a much better place both physically and emotionally for beginning treatment. Heroin addiction treatment can be provided through either an outpatient or inpatient program, determined by the severity of the addiction. An inpatient program is best for entrenched addiction as it provides a living situation that is free of outside influences, stressors, and triggers that might lead to relapse.
During active treatment there will likely be multiple types of therapy provided, including individual psychotherapy sessions, group counseling, family programs, addiction education classes, and holistic therapies, such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness training.
Some treatment programs address the dual diagnosis, individuals having both a heroin addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, by providing specialized treatment elements and psychotropic medications. An individualized treatment plan will be created for the specific needs of the person, including how long their treatment term should be for optimal results.