Rehab for Heroin Addiction: How to Choose Inpatient vs. Outpatient

Battling heroin? Here, we discuss your treatment options. This can help you make a decision between inpatient or outpatient treatment settings.

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ARTICLE SUMMARY: If you’re fighting heroin addiction, inpatient rehab is recommended. Learn how and why structured treatment works here.


Physical Effects

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug. And it’s one of the hardest drugs to quit. So, what does heroin really do to your body?

Repetitive and chronic heroin use leads to:

1. Tolerance, which means you need more and more of heroin to be able to get the wanted effects.
2. Physical dependence, which means your body has adapted to the presence of heroin in the system and cannot function normally without it.
3. Psychological dependence, which means you believe that you cannot function or experience satisfaction without heroin.
4. Addiction, which means you may be aware of the harm heroin is causing to you, but you feel unable to stop.

Due to the seriousness of negative consequences, heroin users are first advised to seek help from a heroin detoxification facility to help manage all these conditions. Detox clinics can help you manage heroin withdrawal side effects and symptoms. They also provide psychological therapies and support. During heroin rehab, you will be monitored and assisted by teams of doctors, nurses, and addiction counselors.

Why Rehab?

The most important reason why you need drug addiction rehab is because the chances of relapse are very high when you try to quit by themselves. Rehab, on the other hand, can provide a better chance for you to become heroin-free. Medical detox can make withdrawal more humane. Then, ongoing treatment will teach you how to continue to live…without the need to use.

A reputable rehab will offer you medications and talk therapy at the same time. The use of medicines is critical in trying to get off heroin. Without them, the brain can experience extreme craving which leads to relapse. So, always be sure that medication assisted treatment is included in your treatment plan.

However, the main “meat and potatoes” of rehab is talk therapy. During individual sessions with a therapist, you’ll explore the reasons why you use heroin to self-medicate. Often, trauma is at the bottom of it. So, you can expect to go through the following stages of treatment when you’re in the right treatment center:

  1. Assessment
  2. Planning for detox and withdrawal
  3. Supportive care
  4. Treatment matching
  5. Talk therapy
  6. Medication therapy

With prolonged and chronic use, it’s extremely difficult to quit heroin without the help of medical professionals or a structured rehab treatment program. Often, quitting on you own can lead to relapse. And when your tolerance is lowered after a self-help detox…you are at risk of overdose.

Inpatient vs. outpatient heroin rehabilitation

Before you check into an inpatient or an outpatient rehab, it helps to be better informed about the structure of each. The best way you can approach treating your heroin addiction will vary by individual. So, it is important to be aware of the key differences.

The main difference between inpatient and outpatient programs is supervision. An inpatient rehab has 24-7 round-the-clock care. This includes medical and psychiatric care. Inpatient clinics anticipate physical and mental problems…and are prepared with treatment options in critical moments. Conversely, outpatient clinics allow you to come and go as you please. There is little in the way of medical support, and you’re often referred outside for these services.

While some people may be self-motivated enough to attend an outpatient program, most people coping with heroin addiction require the more intense environment of inpatient treatment. When living in a rehab center, you’ll be connected with a therapeutic group of people who truly care about you…and are going through the same thing. Here are some other difference between the two types of rehab clinics.

1. Length of the treatment program

INPATIENT: Inpatient rehab treatments last for an average of 28-30 DAYS.

These types of programs include an intake session during which you are physically examined and interviewed. Then, an individualized treatment plan is created according to the severity of your condition. Treatment occurs in a daily routine, usually beginning at 7:00 AM and lasts until lights out around 11:00 PM. For more serious cases, individuals are asked to stay longer in rehab, for about 60-90 DAYS.

OUTPATIENT: Outpatient heroin programs usually last around 10-16 weeks, but they can last for months or even years depending on individual needs. There are also intensive outpatient programs which consist of two-hour group meetings, 3-5 nights a week. Outpatient treatment includes counseling and therapy sessions which are held daily or weekly, but do not require you to live in the facility. Instead, you are expected to attend group meetings, typically in the evenings, and maybe also see a counselor a few times a week.

2. Cost of heroin rehab

INPATIENT: The average cost of inpatient heroin rehab is around $7,000 for a 30-day program. High quality residential rehabs usually cost $20,000 and can go up to $40,000 for a 30-day program. The average cost of 60 or 90 day rehab programs ranges anywhere between $12,000 to $60,000.

OUTPATIENT: On average, outpatient heroin rehab costs around $5,000 for a three (3) month program. The price tag depends on how often you visit the treatment center each week and for how long.

3. Residence

INPATIENT: In an inpatient setting, you are expected to completely devote yourself to your recovery. You live at the clinic for the duration of the treatment program. This type of treatment is very structured and pulls the patient completely out of their environment….which can be a very good thing. The daily routine does not vary and you are expected to participate in all activities.

OUTPATIENT: In an outpatient treatment setting, you will continue to live at home, continue to attend to your regular work, school, and family duties, but also come to the facility for treatment. Outpatient rehab settings generally grant you more freedom while allowing you to working on your addiction issues. However, this might not be the best option for someone coping with heroin problems. Heroin is extremely habit forming, and it might require a complete

4. Detoxification

There are two types of medically assisted safe heroin detox treatments: The first type of detox replaces heroin with another drug and gradually decreases the amount of the replacement drug over a period of time. Another type of detox method removes all traces of heroin from your body and this type of method is also called a natural detoxification. But, what is the difference between inpatient vs. outpatient drug detox programs?

INPATIENT: Most inpatient heroin rehabs include the cost for detox in the cost of the program. Heroin is a drug with dangerous detox side effects and therefore require more careful monitoring, which eventually makes the price higher.

OUTPATIENT: Outpatient heroin detoxification does not exist. Outpatient clinics usually refer you out to a detox clinic, and require you to come back to the facility for treatment once detox is done.

How can I decide between inpatient and outpatient heroin rehab?

Deciding whether you should choose inpatient or outpatient drug rehab, and which treatment is appropriate will depend on:

  • The length of time you have been using heroin
  • Quantities of heroin you use
  • The level of your motivation

People who experience intervention early – before addiction has become severe – may experience a less complicated rehabilitation process. Such individuals may benefit from outpatient rehab. However, you must have a good support system at home and be highly motivated to be eligible.

If you have been using heroin for more than a few months and have developed a more serious addiction, then you require a more structured and medically supervised environment. Such individuals can benefit most from inpatient heroin rehab.

Your questions

We hope to have helped you understand more about how can you stop using heroin…with medical help. But we realize that you might have more questions about the right approach. If you still have questions about whether you should check into an inpatient rehab, or if outpatient treatment is enough, please reach out.

Feel free to post your questions in the designated section below. We will respond personally and promptly. Or, give us a call. Our compassionate hotline operators can talk you through the process of inpatient rehab for heroin. In case we don’t know the answer to your question, we will gladly refer you to someone who can help.

Reference Sources: NSF: Guidelines for the management of heroin withdrawal
NIDA: DrugAbuse: Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment
NCBI: Inpatient vs outpatient treatment for substance dependence revisited
Herzanek, J. (2010) Why don’t they just quit. Changing Lives Fondation.
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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