What Do I Do After Heroin Detox
A successful heroin detox process marks the first critical step towards overcoming a heroin addiction. Detox treatment gives addicts a fighting chance at taking back control of their lives from heroin’s effects.
While a successful heroin detox may seem like most of the battle is won, actually breaking an addiction means working though the underlying issues that drive a person to use. After completing heroin detox, recovering addicts must take the needed steps towards eliminating the behaviors and mindsets that drives the addiction lifestyle.
The heroin addiction recovery process entails ongoing psychotherapy treatment, medication therapies when needed and in some cases residential treatment care.
Heroin Detox vs. Heroin Recovery
Long-term heroin use alters or “skews” the brain’s reward system in terms of teaching the mind to view heroin as a positive reinforcement. According to the University of Arkansas, this process remains unaffected by a successful detox process.
In effect, addicts can consider themselves clean and sober after completing heroin detox, but recovering from the drug’s addictive effects has just begun. The sooner a person accepts the “process” that recovery requires, the easier it will be to take an active role in the treatment process.
Psychosocial Treatment Needs
With long-term heroin use, addicts enter into a lifestyle that prioritizes compulsive drug use over everything else. A big part of the recovery process entails undoing the addiction lifestyle and replacing it with healthy and productive habits, routines and relationships.
Psychosocial treatment covers a range of activities, some of which include:
- Individual psychotherapy
- Group therapy
- Family therapy
- 12-Step support groups
Each of these activities works with different areas of the recovery process. As heroin detox treats the body’s physical dependency on the drug, psychosocial treatments help addicts overcome the psychological effects of addiction.
Residential vs. Outpatient Treatment
After heroin detox, a person can choose to enter a residential program or an outpatient treatment program. Truth be told, anyone struggling with a full-fledged heroin addiction may seriously want to consider entering residential treatment after completing detox.
Residential treatment provides the type of structure and support needed to maintain abstinence and stay in recovery. Entering outpatient treatment after detox should only be considered in cases where work and/or family responsibilities make it impossible to enter a full-time, live-in residential program.
Over time, heroin’s effects cause actual changes to develop within the brain’s structure. These changes inevitably change the way the brain functions as a whole. Many heroin detox programs use medication therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine, to help reduce the effects of withdrawal.
For some people, withdrawal “aftereffects” from heroin use can linger on for months and even years into recovery. Medication therapies can be taken on a long-term or maintenance basis to help support the brain’s repair processes and relieve long-term withdrawal effects.
After a person completes heroin detox, the body’s tolerance for heroin has decreased considerably. According to the British Medical Journal, addicts who relapse after heroin detox are more likely to die from overdose than those who discontinue detox and resume drug use.
The importance of having the necessary treatment supports in place after heroin detox cannot be overstated. Should a relapse episode occur, addicts enter into a game of Russian roulette with each successive use.