Two Major Approaches to Heroin Addiction Treatment

by | Apr 3, 2017 | Health


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When you take an opioid such as heroin, your brain responds easily to the chemicals they contain. This can quickly lead to addiction in many cases. In fact, of those who try heroin, some 23% become dependent. For those who want to escape their heroin addiction, treatment is available in various treatment centers.

Approaches to Heroin Treatment

In general, you can divide the treatment of heroin addiction into two types. These are:

1. Pharmacological: This approach relies on medications. Research indicates the effectiveness of using such an approach to alleviate withdrawal symptoms during detox. Medical professionals supply the medication in a tapering schedule. The most common drugs used fall into one of the following categories:

a. Agonists e.g. Methadone
b. Partial Agonists e.g. Buprenorphine
c. Antagonists e.g. Naltrexone

2. Behavioral: Behavioral therapy does not address the physical addiction. This form of heroin addiction treatment looks at the “why” of addiction. It seeks to find out why the patient is an addict. It then considers such things as triggers and works with patients, helping them to discover how to prevent relapses. Among the most common therapies are:

a. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
b. Contingency Management Interventions
c. Motivational Incentives
d. CBT with Voucher-Based Incentives
e. Motivational Enhancement Therapy
f. Family Behavior Therapy

The purpose of both types is to prevent relapsing.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Both pharmacological and behavioral treatments can be successful in treating heroin addiction. However, they work best when melded together into a complementary program. By combining medication with such things as contingency management and cognitive-behavioral therapy, an addict increases his or her chances of regaining control of his or her life. In any type of heroin addiction treatment, however, it becomes essential for the medical professional to match the program with the needs and drug use qualities of the patient.

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