Heroin addiction treatment

Heroin is an opiate drug derived from morphine, and is most commonly injected intravenously, although it can be snorted, smoked or inhaled. It has strong painkilling properties, being roughly three times as strong a painkiller as morphine. Heroin is also one of the most addictive substances available and addiction can occur rapidly. Tolerance is built quickly, causing a person to require more of the drug to appease their cravings, risking fatal overdose and many associated difficulties.

If you are worried that you or a loved one may be addicted to heroin, Priory’s free initial addiction assessment offers you an opportunity to discuss all of the options associated with your addiction. This assessment takes place with an experienced therapist and is completely confidential. There are many symptoms associated with heroin use and a range of indicators that a person may be using it.

All three ways of taking heroin deliver the drug to the brain rapidly. Once there, it is converted back into morphine and binds to opioid receptors, located in many areas of the brain, such as those involved with pain perception, reward, and other areas that are critical for life.

Heroin can appear as a white or brown powder, and also as a black, tar-like substance. The initial injection of heroin causes a rapid euphoric rush alongside a dry mouth, flushing of the skin and heavy limbs. This is followed by a state that can alternate from alertness to lethargy. There can also be a fast onset of nausea, vomiting and severe itching, depending on the dosage and how the body reacts.  

Find out more about the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction. 

Heroin withdrawal symptoms and physical effects

Heroin abuse can result in addiction and a variety of severe complications and illnesses. There is a risk of Hepatitis B or C, or HIV (often through the sharing of needles). A chronic user may suffer from collapsed veins, infection of the heart lining and valve, constipation, gastrointestinal issues, and liver or kidney disease. Users tend to eat significantly less and can suffer from complications associated with malnutrition, combined with their drug abuse. Those who smoke the drug are at further risk of breathing problems, chest infections, and lung congestion.

The withdrawal symptoms of heroin can begin as soon as a few hours after use for some people, contributing to its addictiveness. Users may continue to consume heroin because of its pain-relieving abilities or simply to stave off any withdrawal symptoms, finding themselves dragged into a vicious cycle. The longer this goes on the stronger the likelihood of serious illness related to the addiction. Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense heroin cravings
  • Sickness and vomiting
  • Strong muscle and bone aches
  • Restlessness or tremors
  • Feeling of heaviness
  • Intense cramping in limbs
  • Insomnia
  • Cold sweats and/or chills, or a fever
  • Diarrhoea 

These withdrawal symptoms can last for anything from a few days to several weeks, and heroin cravings may persist for months. In some cases, the complications related to heroin withdrawal can cause death.

Treating heroin abuse

It’s important to recognise the need to seek help. Heroin addiction will almost certainly require an inpatient programme to overcome.

Treatment for heroin dependency will involve intensive group and individual counselling in order to identify all of the associated issues and treat them holistically. Our consultant-led teams work to identify the patterns of destructive behaviour and social impact that the addiction has upon the individual’s life and the lives of people closest to them. Having the support of family and friends can be a significant advantage on the road to recovery, as they are able to offer a strong support network. 

Heroin detox programme

Heroin treatment begins with a medically-assisted detoxification. This has to be managed very carefully because of the dangers associated with withdrawal and going ‘cold turkey’.

The detoxification process can take between several days and a few weeks to complete, depending on how much of the drug a person was consuming. It requires close monitoring of the patient and will likely be medically-assisted to ensure that the detox process is as comfortable as possible. 

Find out more about detoxing from heroin.

Why choose Priory for heroin addiction treatment?

At Priory, we are dedicated to providing exceptional treatment to all who entrust us with their care. We recognise that addiction does not define who you are, and we want to help you to put this behaviour behind you so that you can begin living the full and happy life that you deserve.

We understand that using heroin has likely caused immense distress throughout all aspects of your life, and it is our mission to help you to achieve recovery on all levels – mentally, physically, emotionally and socially. In order to do so, we are pleased to offer the following:

  • Professional experience – the compassionate staff members that make up our treatment teams have extensive experience in helping individuals overcome their struggles with addiction. Their knowledge and expertise will allow you to receive the most clinically excellent treatment available
  • Personalised care – we recognise that the specific ways in which the use of heroin has impacted you, may differ from the way that it has impacted others. As such, we are committed to creating an individualised treatment plan that is uniquely tailored to you
  • Comprehensive care – we strive to make sure that you are able to achieve recovery in a truly holistic way. As such, we provide a wide range of services that can be implemented into your overall plan of care 

For further details on how Priory can provide you with further assistance regarding heroin addiction treatment and rehab, please call  0800 840 3219 or click here for a free addiction assessment.