What does a good heroin addiction treatment look like?
By Clare Waismann
Heroin addiction: Are you getting the care you need?
The heroin epidemic continues to rage in the United States, with an estimated 467,000 people struggling with heroin abuse as of 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, only 11.2% of individuals receives heroin addiction treatment in a specialized center.
Even within facilities that purport to treat heroin addiction, quality of care can vary drastically. So it is crucial to be aware of good heroin addiction treatment characteristics! How can patients be empowered to make the best choice for their health? How can drug treatment providers be held to the expected high standards? We explore here. Then, we’ll invite your questions about heroin addiction treatment at the end.
Choosing the Best Heroin Treatment Program
Numerous factors set heroin addiction treatment programs apart. Finding the program that is the right FOR YOU is the first step towards a successful recovery. The best heroin addiction treatment facilities often share the following characteristics.
1. Good Heroin Treatment Begins with an Individualized Assessment
Effective treatment for heroin addiction should start with a comprehensive evaluation of the individual. Only by understanding a person’s psychological needs, medical status, and willingness to engage in a healthy life can an adequate treatment program be developed. This includes a thorough assessment of:
- the person’s physical health
- existing medical conditions
- family history of addiction
- psychological history
- emotional status
One-size-fits-all approaches to drug addiction treatment are likely to fail because they do not address the personal factors that lead to the addiction.
2. Good Heroin Treatment Treats the Human Being Behind the Addiction
Good heroin addiction treatment also requires an understanding of the differences between physical dependence and psychological addiction on the drug. Physiological dependence develops when a person takes heroin for a prolonged period of time, leading to increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when the drug is unavailable. While related, drug dependence alone is not necessarily addiction.
Addiction is a complex behavioral syndrome that is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. This is distinct from physiological dependence and usually requires a longer-term outpatient psychological treatment that assists the person learning new coping skills to address emotional struggles.
In many cases, addiction develops as a consequence of painful emotional or psychiatric issues that were never properly addressed. This could include:
- relationship issues
- unresolved trauma
….or other factors that leave a person feeling sad and alone. In this instance, using heroin could be a self-medicating response to emotional pain.
Heroin has a numbing effect, allowing a person to bear their emotional pain more easily. Unfortunately, what begins as a coping response to distressing emotions can soon develop into a full-blown drug problem. Tolerance and physiological dependence develop, and addiction soon follows.
Understanding the underlying causes of pain is key to unraveling the addiction problem in treatment. For this reason, the best heroin addiction treatment programs assess and treat the human being behind the addiction. Succeeding to identify the real emotional distress accurately, allows for the healing process to start.
3. Good Heroin Detoxification Treatment is Performed by a Medical Professional
Addiction medicine is an incredibly complicated field because it relates to physiological changes and brain chemistry. An unhealthy, unbalanced, and dysregulated nervous system can affect individuals physically and emotionally in many different ways. Yet, many treatment centers are staffed by individuals with very limited education and training in the physiology that occurs through a withdrawal syndrome and detoxification. Being able to accurately assess and assist each individual is crucial to the safety and success of the detox treatment and well-being of each patient.
In some cases, staff members have struggled with heroin addiction themselves and are giving back by working at a treatment facility. This is not necessarily inimical. Personal experience can be supportive, but not to be confused with, or replace with qualified health care professionals.
Programs that operate within a full-service hospital ensure that patients have access to the medical assessments and interventions they might need for a safe, comfortable detoxification experience. Having the adequate medical support through heroin withdrawal also increases the likelihood that patients will succeed in completing detox and start in a drug-free life.
4. Good Heroin Detoxification Treatment Supports Patients Through Withdrawal
Withdrawal is one of the most challenging phases of a heroin addiction treatment and the leading cause of relapse. The patients’ metabolism is attempting to transition from an opiate dependent state to an opiate free state. Although the patient may have the best intention to detox, oftentimes withdrawal symptoms are extremely difficult to handle and patients return to using heroin.
Supporting patients through withdrawal, safely and comfortably, is the cornerstone to good treatment. Unsuccessful detoxification attempts often destroy hope and self-esteem leading to depression and overall feelings of worthlessness. Patients become stuck in this cycle making it less likely for the person to attempt a new chance of sobriety in the future. Suffice it to say, good heroin detox treatment minimizes and ideally eliminates, the high risk of relapse during the withdrawal phase.
5. Good Treatment Identifies the Adequate Aftercare
Detox is the first step in overcoming heroin addiction. Still, any good treatment program includes an assessment and discussion with the patient about emotional assistance and aftercare. Good heroin treatment programs allow for an emotional adjustment period so a solid aftercare plan can be reviewed and discussed. Aftercare should then be decided once a thorough evaluation is completed by a mental health professional.
Emotional issues are often intertwined with substance abuse because individuals are attempting to self-medicate mental distress. They temporarily feel relief from depression, anxiety or other more severe symptoms. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD can make day-to-day life exhausting if not properly treated. For those who suffers from these conditions, the proper diagnosis and mental health support can be the difference between immediate relapse and a drug-free life.
6. Good Heroin Addiction Treatment Programs Create a Strong Foundation for the Rest of Your Life
A good treatment program should establish you on a steady path to living a drug-free lifestyle. Creating this foundation begins by providing respect and understanding from the earliest days of treatment and continues for the rest of your journey. Some treatments are based on preconceived ideas of who a substance abuser is and how they should be treated.
These treatments seem to label patients as “lesser than,” what can be damaging to one’s self-esteem for life. Finding a treatment program that is respectful, supportive and non-judgmental, will ensure that you begin on a healthy trajectory.
Heroin Addiction Treatment with the Waismann Method®
Yes, the Waismann Method does provide heroin addiction treatment. We have been at it a long time, nearly two decades. We understand that a safe and comfortable heroin detoxification, followed by a comprehensive and individualized recovery plan, is the best way to treat heroin addiction.
While we here at the Waismann Method would love to help you detox off of heroin, we know you have many options when choosing a good heroin treatment center. We hope that this article provides you with some needed information and perspective on how to best make this decision. If you still have questions about addiction or its treatment, please leave them in the comments section below. We’ll try to respond to you question personally and promptly!
About the Author: Clare Waismann, CATC, (Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor), is the founder of the Waismann Method® which has provided the latest medical techniques to treat opioid dependency for almost two decades, followed by a specialized and individualized recovery center. Waismann has established a reputation worldwide for achieving exceptional results and providing superior care.