Why It’s Not Too Late to Get Help for Your Heroin Addiction

Woman in hat struggling with Mixing Cold Medications with Prescription Drugs

Getting help for your heroin addiction is a healthy step. It is never too late to seek treatment and recover. Regardless of age, duration of addiction, or what substances you have been on, it is possible to seek treatment and start your sobriety.

What Treatment to Seek

When looking at types of treatment, it is best to start with an assessment. Depending on the severity of the heroin addiction, a treatment center can offer inpatient/residential, intensive outpatient, transition housing, or outpatient counseling.

These are typically coupled with traditional 12-step programs, spiritual emphasis, individualized treatment plans, group therapy, and detoxification.

Each treatment facility has a varying focus while treating the addiction [1]. Some programs are holistic in focus and have programming that works with the overall health and healing process.

Some of these programs use non-traditional therapies to promote recovery. Faith-Based programs allow participants to focus on developing and strengthening their faith while recovering from addiction.

Cognitive programs work to help an individual identify negative thinking patterns, addiction-type thinking, and educate and promote healthy thinking beliefs, and processes through different types of traditional therapies.

Self-Help programs typically enable individuals to attend meetings and peer support groups to gain sobriety and coping skills.

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Detoxification is often a part of the addiction treatment process. Some facilities will offer in-house detox but it depends on their treatment level provisions. However, detox is normally required and essential when entering treatment for heroin addiction.

Having 24-hour support during the withdrawal process in a safe environment is important to prevent drug use to curb the withdrawal symptoms.

Some detox programs will offer medically-assisted detox and holistic rehab. When a person decides to detox, it can take days to weeks to be fully detoxed from substances. It can be described as cleansing the body of all traces of addictive substances or toxins [2].

Heroin can cause painful withdrawal symptoms, and a person can have serious withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, and other reactions.

It is not recommended to try to detox on your own, but to seek detoxification from a treatment facility or hospital where there is support.

It’s Never Too Late

Help is available for anyone who seeks it. It does not matter a person’s past, struggles, drug use, or what experiences that person has been through. An individual can seek treatment alone or with the help of family and friends,

In the recovery process, therapy is beneficial to uncover underlying issues for heroin use [2]. Psychotherapy, talk therapy, group therapy, and if needed, family therapy is all used to help understand the addiction, identify triggers, and promote healthy thinking and behaviors.

Other mental health issues can be addressed as well, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Behavioral Therapy, and group therapy are some of the treatment options used within the sobriety process.

These can aid in identifying and correcting unhealthy belief systems, working on skill building, relationship repairs, and gaining support from others who are in similar situations.

Other issues such as self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, and positive outcomes of sobriety are addressed within the therapeutic process. Working on skill building, and job searching is also done during the treatment process.

Getting Support

One of the main things that someone who is addicted to heroin needs is support with sobriety [3]. Giving encouragement, support, and love will help the person know that they are able to get through their treatment.

In 2012, over 100,000 individuals were admitted to treatment facilities for heroin use [3]. One main effective treatment for heroin addiction is methadone.

During detox therapy, certain medications can be used to help with the withdrawal symptoms. Both methadone and buprenorphine are used to help in the detox process.

Contingency management therapy is also a way to support heroin addicts in treatment. It is a type of reward therapy that encourages a drug-free environment.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA), is a non-profit organization that was created for recovering addicts and is based on a 12-step program [3].

NA will meet independently from facilities and are there to offer support and guidance to those wanting to live addiction free. These programs are recommended to be used as a complement to other treatment and therapies.

Heroin is extremely addictive, and in 2013 almost 5 million individuals in the U.S. alone reported having tried heroin at least once [3]. Once heroin is in the body, it rapidly enters the brain and has both short and long-term effects.

Short-term effects include feeling flushed or hot, dry mouth or lack of saliva production, nausea, severe itching, and drowsiness. Long-term effects can be physical dependence, collapsed veins, bacterial infections, and arthritis symptoms [3].

Getting help can occur at any stage of the addiction process, and it is never too late to get help.

How Do I Know I am Addicted?

Woman in hat

If you feel that you are unable to stop heroin use, spend increasing amounts of money on buying heroin and foregoing necessities, you may have an addiction to heroin.

Other signs of addiction include loss of interest in hobbies or activities, mood swings or irritability if not on a substance, and constantly thinking about your next high.

If you feel that you are addicted to heroin, and need help, seek treatment.

Most facilities can do assessments over the phone and have 24-hours a day access to staff who can help assess your best treatment needs. Help is possible from heroin addiction.

Image of Libby Lyons and familyAbout the Author: Libby Lyons is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist (CEDS). Libby has been practicing in the field of eating disorders, addictions, depression, anxiety and other comorbid issues in various agencies. Libby has previously worked as a contractor for the United States Air Force Domestic Violence Program, Saint Louis University Student Health and Counseling, Saint Louis Behavioral Medicine Institute Eating Disorders Program, and has been in Private Practice.

Libby currently works as a counselor at Fontbonne University and is a Adjunct Professor at Saint Louis University, and is a contributing author for Addiction Hope and Eating Disorder Hope. Libby lives in the St. Louis area with her husband and two daughters. She enjoys spending time with her family, running, and watching movies.


[1] Are You Worried that it’s too Late to Recover from Drug Addiction? (2017, May 24). Retrieved September 01, 2017, from http://aforeverrecovery.com/blog/addiction/is-it-ever-too-late-to-recover-from-drug-addiction/
[2] Professional Help for Drug Problems is the Best Option. (2017, April 19). Retrieved September 01, 2017, from http://brsrehab.com/2015/11/02/is-it-ever-too-late-to-get-help-for-your-drug-problem/
[3] How to Help a Heroin Addict. (2016, October 19). Retrieved September 01, 2017, from http://drugabuse.com/library/how-to-help-a-heroin-addict/

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on October 7, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 7, 2017.
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.