Heroin represents an extremely dangerous drug due to its high risk for overdose. In 2019, an estimated 14,019 people died from a heroin overdose, which made up nearly 20% of drug-related deaths that occurred that year, reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
Heroin addiction can be successfully treated with one of several programs at a drug rehab center, though inpatient treatment yields far better results than other programs.
Continue reading to learn more about the differences between inpatient and outpatient treatment for heroin addiction and why people should consider choosing an inpatient program for themselves or a loved one.
What Is Inpatient Addiction Treatment for Heroin?
Inpatient and residential treatment grants patients recovery from heroin addiction in a safe environment where they do not have access to drugs and alcohol. Inpatient rehab eliminates exposure to everyday stressors and responsibilities related to work, school, and family so patients can focus solely on their recovery. These programs include various behavioral therapies and services that keep patients busy and occupied all day long and provide daily structure, which helps them adjust to healthier, sober lifestyles.
Inpatient drug rehab programs for heroin typically begin with medication-assisted detox and withdrawal. Detox helps patients recover from heroin dependence and reduces their withdrawal symptoms to make them feel more comfortable. According to the World Health Organization, heroin detox and withdrawal lasts an average of 4 to 10 days.
During detox, nurses and doctors closely monitor patients and provide them with plenty of water to replenish fluids lost through vomiting, sweating, and diarrhea, along with vitamins and supplements that help boost their immune systems. In addition, patients with moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms often receive medications such as buprenorphine and methadone that minimize symptoms.
Some treatment centers also use lofexidine, which produces sedation, relaxation, and mild pain relief. However, Harvard Health Publishing reports that methadone may be more effective than lofexidine at reducing severe withdrawal in patients recovering from heroin dependence.
After completing heroin detox, patients start receiving behavioral therapy to help them change harmful behaviors and attitudes related to addiction. The NIDA states that the most effective behavioral therapies for heroin addiction are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management.
CBT helps patients identify and change behaviors related to heroin use and teaches them to cope with various triggers and stressors to stay sober. Contingency management uses a voucher system where patients get reward points when they produce negative drug tests and exhibit positive sober behaviors. They can then exchange these points for prizes such as gift cards and other items that support a healthy lifestyle.
Other behavioral therapies available in an inpatient rehab program include family behavior therapy, 12-step support group therapy such as Narcotics Anonymous, and dialectical behavior therapy. All drug rehab programs get customized for each patient based on their unique recovery needs.
What Is Outpatient Addiction Treatment for Heroin?
Outpatient rehab treatment for heroin is far less intensive than inpatient treatment because it is fewer hours a day on fewer days a week. Patients live at home or in a sober living facility while visiting the rehab center regularly to receive behavioral therapy. Outpatient rehab is usually ideal for patients continuing to work or care for children while receiving treatment and for those individuals who have a safe home environment and supportive friends and relatives.
Instead of experiencing detox at the rehab facility, patients may get prescribed buprenorphine to reduce heroin withdrawal symptoms. Methadone cannot get prescribed to patients in an outpatient program because this medication can only get taken under direct medical supervision. However, some patients have the option of visiting a methadone clinic every day to receive their daily methadone dose.
Why Is Inpatient Better Than Outpatient for Heroin Addiction?
Heroin patients who complete inpatient programs maintain abstinence for an extended period than those who receive outpatient treatment. Inpatient treatment offers the highest level of support for patients whose lifestyles had revolved around heroin use. These rehab programs also have 24-hour monitoring, which is highly beneficial for those experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, including powerful drug cravings.
Heroin withdrawal can be challenging for patients due to symptoms, including insomnia, muscle pain, and drug cravings. Often, these symptoms can become severe enough to cause a relapse back to heroin use as patients try to eliminate or relieve these symptoms. Unfortunately, heroin relapse increases the risk for an overdose, given how a patient’s tolerance level decreases when they stop using heroin for a few days. Inpatient detox prevents this complication because patients have no access to heroin or other harmful substances that can trigger an overdose.
The daily structure is another significant benefit of receiving inpatient rehab treatment. Rehab staff work with patients to help them develop new daily routines that include several hours of behavioral therapy and essential tasks such as eating three healthy meals a day, exercising daily, and socializing with peers while engaging in sober activities. Outpatient programs do not offer this benefit. Instead, patients must take steps to adjust to sober living, which requires a high level of motivation.
Recovering From Heroin Addiction With Haven Detox
At Haven Detox in Massachusetts, we offer medication-assisted heroin detox to help people recover from heroin dependence. We also offer an inpatient program that includes various behavioral therapies that help patients recover from addiction. Contact us today at (855) 614-0111 to learn more about our drug and alcohol rehab programs and about how we can help you or your loved one achieve long-term recovery.