Rehab for heroin

A guide on what to expect during heroin rehab here.

minute read

Heroin addiction is life altering and extremely dangerous. Many heroin users find it difficult to overcome addiction. But if heroin is consuming your life, help is available.

Read on to find out more about rehab for heroin and how you can kick the habit for good. Then, we invite your questions about rehab at the end.

Readiness for heroin rehab

How do you know if you’re ready for rehab for heroin? Well, you could wait until you hit rock bottom and have nothing left to lose. You could wait until this drug has consumed your life, chased away your loved ones, drained your bank account, and demolished your dignity. Or, you could face up to the fact that you have a problem before you hit rock bottom.

However severe your addiction is, there’s no better time than the present to consider rehab for heroin. Rehab programs can help you beat physical and psychological dependence on heroin and take back your life.

Rehab for heroin addiction

So, once you’re ready for rehab, what can you expect?

Rehab is usually necessary in order to successfully overcome a heroin addiction. Rehab programs are organized through either inpatient or outpatient treatment centers. Both types of settings help recovering addicts stay away from heroin and learn coping skills necessary to resist using the drug in the future. What happens during each?

Inpatient heroin rehab – This type of heroin rehab program which usually requires a 3-6 week stay in a facility, which may be extended to several months, if necessary. Participants sleep, eat, and attend counseling sessions together. This type of rehab is successful for heroin addicts who:

  • have been diagnosed with co-occuring disorders
  • have tried quitting heroin on their own unsuccessfully
  • struggle with profound dependency and addiction
  • would benefit from environmental change

Outpatient heroin rehab – Outpatient programs benefit patients who live at home and/or need to continue working. Participants in outpatient heroin rehab are typically highly motivated, self-guided individuals who self-elect to attend a more closer to home alternative treatment program.

Heroin addiction rehab programs

While all heroin rehab programs are different, they usually offer most of the services listed below.

1. Assessment and interview intakes

Every patient who enters rehab for heroin will be required to undergo an initial assessment as well as periodic evaluations during the length of their treatment. The initial assessment will help doctors and addiction specialists gain a better understanding of the individual’s physical and psychological dependence on heroin. This will help rehab staff create an addiction treatment plan based on each person’s unique needs and situation.

Then, periodic evaluations help rehab staff determine how well the treatment plan is working and when to tweak or update the treatment plan, if necessary. It’s critical to be as HONEST AS POSSIBLE during initial intake, as staff are interested in helping you from the inside-out!

2. Medical detox from heroin

How long to detox from heroin? Detoxification from heroin occurs when you stop taking heroin and can take anywhere from several days to several weeks to resolve. It is during this time that most heroin addicts experience severe uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • cramping
  • insomnia
  • muscle aches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • runny nose
  • sweating

Some hospitals and heroin rehab programs offer patients the opportunity to go through the detox process under medical supervision. Medical detox during rehab for heroin is typically much safer and more comfortable, and it reduces the chances that a heroin addict will relapse in an effort to ease the withdrawal symptoms. Medications and interventions are ordered during medical detox from heroin, when necessary.

3. Pharmacotherapy and medication

Opiate replacement therapy is often used as adjunct therapy during rehab for heroin. This involves replacing heroin in a person’s system with a safer opiate drug, such as methadone or buprenorphine. This can help ease, or even eliminate, withdrawal symptoms, decreasing the odds of a relapse. Eventually (over the course of 6 months or even after years), recovering addicts will be weaned slowly off of these medication so they are no longer dependent on them either.

4. Psychological and mental health treatment

Rehab for heroin programs typically use a number of psychological treatments to help heroin users address addiction. This often consists of cognitive and behavioral therapies and can include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group therapy
  • Family counseling
  • Anger management training
  • Contingency Management
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT)
  • Trauma related counseling

Qualified psychotherapists and counselors will not only help heroin addicts and their loved ones better understand their addictions, but will also teach them techniques to help free themselves from the drug. Since underlying mental and emotional problems may contribute to an addict’s heroin use, counseling and therapy may also be used to treat these during rehab for heroin as well.

5. Educational sessions

While in rehab for heroin, recovering addicts will often be required to participate in several education sessions about addiction. By better understanding that their addiction is a disease, a heroin user usually won’t feel as powerless to fight it. These education sessions are also used to teach recovering addicts different methods and techniques to combat cravings and kick their heroin habit for good.

6. Support services

Overcoming a heroin addiction is nearly impossible without a good support system. Keep in mind that you don’t have to do it alone. Rehab for heroin programs typically offer their patients a number of supportive services, including case management, financial, and social services. Many heroin rehab programs also offer educational services and job training, which can prepare them with skills they need to support themselves in the future.

Rehab for heroin questions

Would you like to know more about rehab for heroin addiction, or would you like to share your own experiences? We welcome any questions or comments from our readers, and we look forward to helping you free yourself from the ties of this dangerous drug. Leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to answer any questions you may have.

Sources: Medline Plus: Opiate withdrawal
DEA: Drug Fact Sheets
NIDA: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)
NIDA: DrugFacts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction
State of New Jersey: Division of Addiction Services
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hi there can you please tell me what the best way for me to stop using as I don’t have funds as I’m on dss. I do need to be able to get into a rehab centre when I don’t have money for the programme. Please help me.

  2. Harm reduction is what is needed. No more money, time & resources to keep fighting a drug war that’s raged on for decades without any tangible success, at all, & is causing massive amounts of problems all over the country. Harm reduction is what is needed. Policy must be made to stop the drug war with the objective of shutting down the black market. The drug war has failed. The drug war is driving the problems, not fixing them. Decriminalization/legalization is necessary, it needs to be backed up with public health announcements explaining exactly why it is needed. Its not in any way condoning the abuse of addictors, it is done bc the alternative, the drug war, has made things infinitely worse on almost every level, to include making drugs abundantly available to any & all that wants them.
    We need to pull LE out of the drug biz – that will free up a lot of resources currently chasing their collective tails. When the laws create more harm and cause more damage than they prevent, its time to change the laws. The $1 TRILLION so-called war on drugs is a massive big government failure – on nearly every single level. Its way past time to put the cartels & black market drug dealers out of business. Mass incarceration has failed. We cant even keep drugs out of a contained & controlled environment like prison.
    We need the science of addiction causation to guide prevention, treatment, recovery & public policies. Otherwise, things will inexorably just continue to worsen & no progress will be made. Addiction causation research has continued to show that some people (suffering with addiction) have a “hypo-active endogenous opioid/reward system.” This is the (real) brain disease, making addiction a symptom, not a disease itself. One disease, one pathology. Policy must be made reflecting addiction(s) as a health issue.
    The war on drugs is an apotheosis of the largest & longest war failure in history. It actually exposes our children to more harm & risk and does not protect them whatsoever. In all actuality, the war on drugs is nothing more than an international projection of a domestic psychosis. It is not the “great child protection act,” its actually the complete opposite.
    The lesson is clear: Drug laws do not stop people from harming themselves, but they do cause addicts to commit crimes and harm others. We need a new approach that decriminalizes the disease. We must protect society from the collateral damage of addiction and stop waging war on ourselves. We must implement policy that stops this war on ourselves. We need common sense harm reduction approaches desperately. MAT (medication assisted treatment) and HAT (heroin assisted treatment) must be available options. Of course, MJ should not be a sched drug at all.
    Every human being is precious, worthy of love and belonging, and deserves opportunities to fulfill his or her potential regardless of past trauma, mental and emotional anguish, addictive behaviors or mistakes made.

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