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Heroin Addiction Treatment and Rehab Centers Near Me

6 min read · 10 sections
With hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. struggling with heroin use disorder in recent years, much-needed treatment for heroin addiction is available via myriad rehab programs across the country. 1 Take a deep dive into heroin addiction treatment, including detox, inpatient, outpatient, and aftercare options as well as FDA-approved medications and behavioral therapies.
What you will learn:
Heroin effects, including withdrawal symptoms and heroin detox options.
Treatment for heroin addiction (detox, inpatient, outpatient, and aftercare).
Behavioral therapies and FDA-approved medications used in heroin addiction treatment.

What is Heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug, whose effects include euphoria, drowsiness, and mental clouding, among others.2,3 Illicitly manufactured from morphine, a natural opiate alkaloid derived from the opium poppy plant, heroin is associated with physiological dependence and addiction development.4

The 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reveals that among those 12 and older, 0.4% (1 million people) used heroin in the last year.1 While this figure represents a slight decline compared to 2021, 0.3% (900,000 people) in this same age group and during this same period had a heroin use disorder (i.e., an opioid use disorder involving heroin use).1,5

Effects of Heroin

Heroin effects often include a near-immediate surge of euphoria followed by various adverse effects, which can include:10

  • Drowsiness.
  • Mental clouding.
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and legs.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Skin flushing.
  • Severe itching.
  • Respiratory depression.

Effects of chronic heroin use and various methods of misuse (e.g., injecting, smoking, and snorting) include:11,12

  • Progressive hormonal imbalances.
  • White matter brain changes, which can affect decision-making skills, behavior regulation, and stress response.
  • Development of profound tolerance, dependence, and an associated withdrawal syndrome.

Am I Addicted to Heroin?

Like other opioids, heroin attaches to and activates opioid receptors in the brain to modify pain perception. In turn, this activation is associated with an increase in dopamine activity in the brain, which can considerably reinforce its use and prompt people to repeat the experience.7 Repeated use of opioids such as heroin increase the risk of addiction or, in diagnostic terms, an opioid use disorder.13

To diagnose an opioid use disorder, doctors and other addiction treatment professionals typically use the following criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5):14

  • Using heroin or other opioids for longer periods of time or in larger amounts than intended.
  • Being unable to cut down or stop using opioids such as heroin.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of heroin or other opioids.
  • Experiencing cravings, or intense desires or urges to use heroin or other opioids.
  • Failing to fulfill obligations at home, work, or school due to substance use.
  • Continuing the use of opioids such as heroin despite interpersonal or social problems that are caused or worsened by such use.
  • Giving up social, recreational, or occupational activities due to opioid use.
  • Using opioids in risky or dangerous situations.
  • Continuing opioid use despite having a physical or mental problem that is probably due to substance use.
  • Developing tolerance or needing more of the substance to achieve previous effects.
  • Suffering from withdrawal, meaning that unpleasant symptoms occur when the individual stops using heroin or other opioids.

These diagnostic criteria are part of an informal self-assessment tool that can provide additional insights.

What is Heroin Addiction Treatment?

Despite heroin’s highly addictive nature, a variety of effective treatment options can assist people in attaining and maintaining sobriety. Chief among these options are pharmacological (i.e., medications) and behavioral treatments. While they can be used alone, they’re often most effective when used together, and many heroin rehab centers offer this type of integrated approach.15

This integrated treatment, then, is also organized into various levels of care. The following sections outline these offerings in detail, but to summarize, treatment for heroin addiction often includes:

Heroin Detoxification

Chronic use of substances such as heroin can lead to physiological dependence. Once dependence develops, withdrawal symptoms can arise if someone significantly decreases use or stops using the substance altogether.13

Symptoms of heroin withdrawal can include:12

  • Insomnia, restlessness.
  • Muscle and bone pain.
  • Uncontrollable leg movements.
  • Sweating, chills, and goosebumps.
  • Diarrhea, vomiting.

Although opioid withdrawal is typically not life-threatening in itself, it can be extremely uncomfortable as the body clears itself of the substance, a process known as detox.16 Fear of withdrawal symptoms or an inability to tolerate them when they develop can prompt some individuals who want to quit to continue or resume heroin use. Medical detox and pharmacological withdrawal management can help.15,16

A professional medical detoxification involves a set of interventions intended to keep the individual as safe and as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. Depending on various factors (e.g., the substance, duration and severity of use, etc.) detox may be available in outpatient or inpatient settings, the latter of which involves 24/7 monitoring and care.16

Along with various opioid withdrawal management medications (see below), heroin detox centers may offer additional supportive measures to better manage the challenging withdrawal period, such as providing adequate nutrition, pain management, emotional support, etc., while providing a safe and supportive environment for recovery.17 Additionally, some medications such as clonidine may be prescribed for moderate to severe opioid withdrawal.18 In some professional detox settings, the treatment team may begin to address any medical conditions that may occur alongside opioid use disorder, such as bacterial infections, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C (HCV), and more.17

Keep in mind, however, that heroin detox alone rarely leads to long-term sobriety. Rather, it’s the first step in a multipart treatment program.16

FDA-Approved Medications to Treat Heroin Addiction

Several medications that treat opioid use disorders interact with the same opioid receptors as the addictive substance, though in a way that is safer and less likely to lead to harmful, addiction-related behaviors. These medications include opioid receptor agonists (which activate opioid receptors), partial agonists (which bind to, but only partially activate opioid receptors), as well as antagonists (which block opioid receptor activation to interfere with rewarding opioid effects, should a drug like heroin be used during recovery efforts).15

The following medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of opioid use disorders:15

  • Methadone for Heroin Addiction Treatment. As a long-acting opioid agonist, orally administered methadone has a gradual onset of effects, minimizing the reward associated with other, faster routes of use while preventing withdrawal symptoms from shorter-acting drugs such as heroin. Methadone is closely regulated and only available via specially licensed outpatient treatment programs, where it’s dispensed daily.
  • Buprenorphine for Heroin Addiction Treatment. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine helps to relieve drug cravings without a pronounced, rewarding euphoria and with less risk of dangerous side effects of its own. One variation of buprenorphine is Suboxone, which contains the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone. Naloxone is included to deter individuals from taking Suboxone to get high via injection. Suboxone is intended to be administered orally or placed under the tongue for absorption. When used correctly, it can stabilize withdrawal symptoms from drugs such as heroin. However, if someone attempts to inject Suboxone to get high, the naloxone induces withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone (which is also available in generic formulations) is available via prescription. Healthcare professionals can prescribe buprenorphine as an immediate-release oral medication or an extended-release, monthly injection (Sublocade).
  • Naltrexone for Heroin Addiction Treatment. As an opioid antagonist, naltrexone is available in both immediate-release oral and extended-release intramuscular injection formulations (Vivitrol). As a treatment for opioid use disorder, naltrexone binds to but then prevents opioid receptor activation—thereby blocking some of the rewarding effects of other exogenous opioids such as heroin to diminish the likelihood of relapse in recovery. While it’s not sedating nor addictive and it doesn’t result in physical dependence, some patients have difficulty complying with treatment, which leads to limited effectiveness.

Behavior Therapies for Heroin Addiction

Each treatment plan is customized to the unique needs of the individual, which may necessitate different combinations of behavioral therapies. A variety of behavioral therapeutic approaches can be delivered via both inpatient and outpatient settings.15

The National Institute on Drug Abuse recognizes the following behavioral therapies (among others) as effective in treating heroin addiction, especially when used in conjunction with medications:15

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). As a goal-oriented type of talk therapy, CBT aims to help change problem behaviors by altering how people think and behave. It’s geared around the idea that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected, and if you change one, you can often change the others. CBT can help modify the patient’s expectations and behaviors related to heroin use and increase their ability to cope with life stressors.
  • Contingency management. With contingency management, individuals are rewarded for positive change. Often, patients earn points or vouchers based on negative drug tests or various behavior modifications, which they can redeem for items that further encourage healthy living.

Since treatment isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, a host of individual, group, and family therapies  also may be employed, and several additional behavioral therapies are available.

Inpatient Heroin Treatment

The aforementioned pharmaceutical and behavioral therapies can be employed in various treatment settings. One such option is inpatient rehab for heroin.

With inpatient care, patients live in a treatment facility where they receive 24/7 care and monitoring in a safe, supportive environment. Days are highly structured and typically involve various types of behavioral therapies (often including individual, group, and family options) as well as relapse prevention training and other addiction education opportunities. Inpatient rehab also aims to address whole-person health, offering healthy nutrition and activities that foster physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.16,19

Inpatient heroin treatment provides a host of benefits. Among them, safety is paramount. Inpatient rehabs offer supportive environments free of addictive substances paired with various addiction treatment specialists and other healthcare providers to assist patients 24/7. Additionally, inpatient heroin addiction rehabs can often separate individuals from triggers (e.g., people, places, activities, etc.) that might otherwise prompt substance use. Plus, they can provide a sense of community among peers and professionals who understand addiction, which can further support recovery.

Since inpatient programs provide ongoing support including room and board along with various facility amenities, they’re generally more expensive than outpatient treatment. That said, insurance may pay for part or all of inpatient treatment.

Each insurance plan is unique, so the best way to determine how much you’ll pay is to contact a facility directly. If you’d like to investigate options and locations available through American Addiction Centers, caring staff available 24/7 at can answer questions about everything from payment options to treatment types and facility offerings. Additionally, staff can verify your insurance benefits, or you can do so online.

Also note that treatment facilities such as those offered by American Addiction Centers often provide multiple levels of care, which means you can complete your entire continuum of care—e.g., detox, inpatient, outpatient, and aftercare treatment—via a single provider.

Outpatient Heroin Rehab

With outpatient care, patients live in their own homes or a sober living environment outside of treatment sessions. This scenario sometimes allows patients to maintain additional responsibilities such as jobs, school, families, etc. while also receiving substance use disorder treatment. Additionally, some outpatient programs offer evening and weekend care, affording patients even more flexibility.16

Many of the same inpatient therapies and treatment options can be employed in outpatient settings. However, treatment programming is often relatively less structured and less time intensive than its inpatient or residential treatment counterparts.

Outpatient options for heroin addiction treatment and other substance use disorders include a few different levels of care, ranging from traditional outpatient appointments to more intensive levels of programming that require participation for several hours a day, multiple days per week.16 Outpatient options include:16,20

  • Traditional outpatient treatment (Level 1). Representing the least intensive level of outpatient care, per the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) Criteria for addiction treatment placement, Level 1 employs many of the same therapies and medication interventions used in inpatient rehab, just at a lower intensity. Generally speaking, those in outpatient care should: have supportive home environments, display stable physical and mental health, have access to transportation to attend treatment, and be free of significant withdrawal risks.
  • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). Those enrolled in IOPs live at home and receive ongoing behavioral and pharmacological therapies. However, IOPs provide care that’s more intense than traditional outpatient treatment and less intense than inpatient care.
  • High-intensity outpatient (HIOP) (aka partial hospitalization program [PHP]). The ASAM Criteria previously categorized this level of care as a partial hospitalization program (PHP), so HIOP and PHP are sometimes used interchangeably. Nevertheless, this level of care represents somewhat of a halfway point between outpatient and inpatient facilities. These day treatment programs allow patients to live at home. However, patients participate in intensive care for several hours a day and multiple days per week.
  • Aftercare and sober living. After patients finish inpatient and/or outpatient programs, many addiction professionals recommend that they participate in some form of aftercare treatment, such as ongoing sober living, 12-Step programs, and continuing outpatient therapy.

Find Heroin Addiction Treatment Near You

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction—be it related to heroin or to a host of other substances including alcohol—American Addiction Centers (AAC) can help. Offering accredited facilities and staff paired with evidence-based care, AAC provides the full spectrum of care via multiple U.S. treatment centers, which are in-network with myriad insurance providers that typically cover part or all treatment costs.

Available 24/7 for free and confidential conversations, admissions navigators at can not only help you explore various treatment options and facilities but also answer your treatment questions, discuss financing, and more. Additionally, staff can verify any insurance benefits or you can verify your insurance benefits online.

Reach out now to take your first step toward a lasting recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions about Heroin Treatment

 

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