Heroin is a very serious drug and it requires a two-prong attack if you are looking to quit the drug. Unlike people who smoke cigarettes, cold turkey is not a wise approach. This is because the physical withdrawals to heroin are very serious. Secondly, there is often a very serious cognitive and lifestyle problem with those who have become addicted to heroin. Unlike cigarettes, many heroin addicts have fallen outside of normal functioning life and need counseling and guidance on how to reenter mainstream society and think clearly.

Most heroin addiction treatment plans follow the two-prong attack: dealing with the physical dependence on the drug by administering an opiate agonist or antagonist and then providing counseling. Here is a brief overview of the process.

Addiction To The Drug

Heroin is an opiate. The treatment involves medications that act in a similar way to heroin, but don't have the same negative reactions. They mimic heroin in that they are attracted to the opiate receptors in the brain, but they act slower. The fact that they act slower means that the user doesn't experience the same high that they get from the fast acting street drug. A second type of drug is often used. These drugs are opiate antagonists. They block opiates from being absorbed.

There are three main drugs used: Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone.

Methadone is an opiate agonist. It acts slower than heroin, which enables the addict to slowly withdraw and not experience the same highs that they would by smoking or shooting heroin. Buprenorphrine is also an agonist. When the patient takes buprenorphine, their body won't experience the withdrawal symptoms that they would experience if they went cold turkey. The last drug, naltrexone, is an antagonist. It is sometimes packaged with buprenophrine to prevent patients from trying to inject the drug to get a quicker high. Naltrexone blocks the opiates, so a patient won't feel any high.

Cognitive Treatment

It's not enough to simply rid the body of physical dependence on heroin. The emotional state of the patient needs to be addressed. They need to speak with a counselor to understand why they went to the drug in the first place. Learning about this will help them understand emotional triggers which might send them reeling back into the addiction.

Also, many people on heroin have alienated loved ones and friends, lost jobs and even become homeless. Counselors will help the patients start piecing back their life. If a person is left on their own once they kick the physical dependency, and returns to a empty life, then there is a great chance that they will seek out the emotional escape that the drug provides. So rebuilding a proper social and work life is a vital step. Contact a drug dependence treatment center in your area for help.