Treatment of Heroin Addiction

Ausra Tauginaite, LCP

Treatment of Heroin Addiction


         Research has shown that integration of both medication and therapy is the most effective approach to treat heroin addiction. At Elemental Center, Ltd. we treat opioid addiction by integrating both methods.


       When people addicted to opioids stop using, they experience withdrawal symptoms, such as vomiting, feeling nauseous, tremors, runny nose, sweats, chills, and pain. Purpose of the detoxification program is to help to withdraw from heroin by minimizing the withdrawal symptoms and to adjust to a drug free state. Detoxification is a step towards a long term treatment.


        Methadone, is an opiate that blocks the effects of heroin and eliminates withdrawal symptoms. It has a longer half-life than heroin. Another type of drug is Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine produces lower level of physical dependence, so when individuals discontinue the medication, have fewer withdrawal symptoms. Medications Naltrexone and Naloxone block the effect of heroin. They are antagonists and are useful as antidotes. Naltrexone blocks pleasurable effects of heroin and is successful in preventing relapse. Suboxone is a drug that contains Buprenorphine and Naloxone and is used to treat opiate addiction. Suboxone produces lower level of physical dependence.

Residential treatment programs

        Residential treatment facilities provide individual and group therapy, participation in support groups, educational lectures, family involvement, and working with professional staff experienced in treating addiction.

Short term and Long term Counseling and Therapy

       Research has shown cognitive behavioral therapy is effective when treating opioid addiction. Short term therapy’s goals are: relieve the symptoms of distress and discomfort resulting from addiction or withdrawal, prevent complications of withdrawal, achieve an addiction free state, prepare for a long term program, and engage the family in the treatment process.
Long term treatment goals: to maintain an opioid free state and prevent relapse.

Self help groups, for example – Narcotic Anonymous.

       Narcotic Anonymous (NA) is a fellowship which purpose is to achieve and maintain drug free living. NA is based on the disease model, spirituality and 12 steps. NA provides education, support and hope to substance abusers and their families.




Audience. (n.d.). Heroin: Abuse and Addiction | National Institute on Drug Abuse. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2012). Foundations of addictions counseling. Boston:

Keltner, N. L., & Folks, D. G. (2005). Psychotropic drugs (4th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier Mosby.

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