Heroin Rehab Treatment
As the most deadly illegal substance in the UK, heroin carries no benefits. It is not prescribed as a form of medical treatment and the unregulated nature of this drug makes it extremely dangerous, as there is no way to know for sure what a bag of heroin contains.
Seeking treatment for heroin addiction can feel overwhelming, and many people will be unsure of where to start. Here at OK Rehab, we aim to shine a light on the process of heroin rehab and answer many of the most common question surrounding this treatment.
What are the symptoms of heroin addiction?
While many people will attempt to be secretive about their addiction to heroin out of a sense of guilt and shame, there are a number of warning signs to look out for.
Physical symptoms of heroin addiction include:
- Extreme weight loss
- Flu-like symptoms including fever and body chills
- Skin problems such as scabbing and bruising
- Persistent itchiness
- Respiratory illnesses including pneumonia
- Nausea and vomiting
- Digestive issues including constipation
- Drowsiness and lethargy
Psychological symptoms of heroin addiction include:
- Memory loss
- Insomnia, difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Impaired concentration
- Noticeable confusion
If you or someone you care about is displaying any of these symptoms and you are concerned that heroin addiction is the cause, reach out to your doctor for advice or give our team at OK Rehab a call for support and guidance during this time.
What are the long-term effects of heroin addiction?
The dangers of a heroin addiction extend far beyond the short-term symptoms listed above. If left untreated, prolonged use can lead to a range of long-term effects including an increased risk of contracting HIV and other blood-borne diseases, all of which can have severely detrimental consequences. 
Long-term effects of heroin addiction include:
- Collapsed veins
- Teeth and gum problems resulting from poor hygiene
- Increased risk of abscesses and other skin issues
- Increased risk of contracting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS
- Menstrual problems and increased risk of miscarriage
- Legal troubles, including charges of heroin possession
- Financial troubles such as debt, a lack of savings and/or job loss
- Damage to relationships with friends, family members and colleagues
- Decrease in cognitive functions – finding it difficult to make decisions and regulate behaviour
- Increased risk of Parkinson’s disease
Do I need to go to heroin rehab?
The addictive nature of this drug results in a higher likelihood of relapse when attempting to reduce or completely stop ingestion. As the body’s tolerance to this substance can drop shortly after the withdrawal process begins, a relapse without medical assistance during the recovery period could prove fatal due to the increased risk of overdose.
Therefore, anyone who has been taking heroin for any length of time is advised to seek medical assistance and consider undertaking under the care of experienced medical professionals in a rehabilitation centre.
If you can relate to any of the below statements, it is highly recommended that you work with a doctor to devise a treatment plan with the aim of eventually stopping your heroin use.
- I have tried to reduce or completely stop my heroin use but I have been unable to do so
- I often decline social invitations if I am not able to use heroin before or during the activity
- I have experienced negative consequences due to my heroin use but I still continue to use it
- My life is centred around acquiring and using heroin, with little time left to pursue other activities
- I find it difficult to imagine my life without heroin
- I have noticed an increase in side effects such as teeth and gum problems and collapsed veins
- If I try to reduce or stop my heroin intake, I experience severe withdrawal symptoms
- Friends, family members and other people in my life have commented on my heroin use
- I attempt to keep my heroin use a secret from other people around me
- My heroin use has affected my performance at work or school
How does heroin rehab work?
The primary goal of treatment within a heroin rehabilitation programme is to assist the individual in reducing their heroin intake until they are no longer physically and psychologically dependent on this substance. This is often achieved in three stages: detoxification, maintenance therapy and aftercare.
Not all patients will choose to undergo maintenance therapy, instead of progressing directly from detoxication to aftercare. This is a personal choice that should be discussed with a medical professional and is usually based on the length of the addiction and the amount of heroin ingested on a regular basis.
The process of detoxification involves gradually reducing the dosage and frequency of heroin intake until the individual is no longer ingesting this substance. It is important that the patient is closely monitored during this stage of treatment as the risk of relapse is high and many of the physical withdrawal symptoms can result in severe dehydration.
2. Maintenance therapy
This form of treatment involves ceasing heroin use and instead of switching to a less dangerous substitution such as methadone, allowing the individual to avoid many of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that come with detoxification. Although heroin substitutes carry a risk of addiction, they are tightly controlled and monitored by medical professionals and therefore present less danger to the patient.
The goal is always to eventually taper off the dosage of any heroin substitute provided, and this method of treatment has proven to be extremely effective. 
Combining the above methods with a range of individual and group therapies is the most effective form of treatment for heroin addiction. Therapy can provide strategies for long-term recovery including managing potential triggers, healthy ways to deal with stress and challenging destructive thoughts and behaviours.
What is the success rate for heroin rehab?
Understanding the success rate for heroin rehab can be difficult, as many studies fail to take into account the fact that relapse can often be part of the recovery process.
Recovering from heroin addiction is often a long and challenging road, but thankfully there is hope on the horizon. One study that followed a group of heroin users over 33 years revealed a 53% success rate of those that were still alive by the end of the study, with roughly 1 in 5 people relapsing. 
The chances of long-term recovery from heroin addiction are greatly increased when medical treatment is sought, particularly within a professional rehabilitation centre. This allows detoxification to take place under controlled and safe settings, with options for maintenance therapy along with one-on-one and group counselling available as part of the treatment programme.
Relapse does not mean failure. Instead, it is an opportunity to learn more about the addiction and any potential triggers, allowing for greater self-understanding and potentially a decreased chance of relapse in the future.
What are the most common heroin withdrawal symptoms?
The withdrawal process generally begins when an individual greatly reduces their intake of heroin or abruptly ceases use. However, symptoms can appear after a period of heavy use.
While the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are not generally life-threatening, it is advised that anyone attempting to reduce or stop their heroin intake should seek medical assistance due to an increased risk of dehydration throughout the process.
It is vital to note that the body’s tolerance to heroin can drop dramatically after just a short period of detoxification, leading to a greater risk of overdose if the individual relapses.
Physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Increased pain sensitivity
- Flu-like symptoms including fever, muscle aches and body chills
- Painful joints
- Changes in heart rate
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Nausea and vomiting
Psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Cravings for heroin
- Anxiety and depression
- Agitation and irritability
- Disturbed sleep – trouble falling or staying asleep
How to cope with heroin withdrawal
While most unpleasant symptoms of heroin will generally pass within a week, there are a number of actions that can be undertaken during this time in order to make the process of withdrawal and recovery more comfortable.
1. Reach out for help
Whether you are under the care of medical professionals or attempting to detox from home, reaching out for support from family and friends can make all the difference. They will be able to check on you and provide a listening ear, reducing feelings of loneliness and allowing you to express your feelings. Additionally, a trusted therapist can also help you work through your fears and emotions throughout the withdrawal process.
2. Take medication
There are a number of over-the-counter medications that can help to manage many of the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal including Ibuprofen for pain management, Imodium for diarrhoea and Antivert for sickness and nausea. If symptoms persist or become unmanageable, a doctor may be able to prescribe higher-strength medications. Finding activities that you enjoy can also boost serotonin and endorphins, potentially alleviating many symptoms and increasing the chances of long-term recovery.
3. Focus on health
During the withdrawal process, there is a risk of dehydration due to the increased likelihood of vomiting and diarrhoea. Drinking enough water and other fluids can help to reduce this risk while consuming healthy, nutrient-dense meals can give your body the strength to get through heroin withdrawal. Regular exercise may also be helpful but care must be taken to ensure that fluids are not lost through excessive perspiration.
4. Keep occupied
While heroin withdrawal can be uncomfortable and difficult to deal with, keeping your mind busy can be a helpful distraction during the recovery process. Books, films and TV shows can provide hours of entertainment and allow the mind to focus on something other than the withdrawal symptoms that you may be experiencing.