Heroin addiction

There are many factors included in the heroin addiction problem. It influences both the user and society. Drug addictions generally lead to unsocial behavior, criminal activity, and a number of family and social issues. It is clear that the treatment of this disorder needs to be implemented with the utmost care and detailed planning. The entire therapy process should be implemented by only the most dedicated staff, supervised by experts in their fields with years of training and experience.

The reason why heroin addiction is so entangled is that it doesn’t always include only the treatment of addiction. Most heroin addicts suffer from more than just physical effects of addiction. It is estimated that around 70 percent of addicts that receive the treatment also suffer from a series of mental health disorders. So what does modern medicine have to offer when it comes to helping people who are in need of psychological assistance? Let’s have a look.


In the United States, the healthcare administration spends estimated 11 billion dollars on funding top rated drug rehab centers which provide drug addiction treatment and any other necessary assistance. Statistics shows that overall cost for the government, including criminal offenses and productivity losses, goes up to 193 billion dollars per year. The money that the government spends on treating heroin addiction patients, substantial as it is, is simply not enough. The reason why these funds are not enough is because treating a heroin addiction is a complex issue due to a number of factors. One of the key factors is because patients that treat heroin addiction don’t need to treat only the addiction issue.

The number of heroin addicts that at the same time suffer from a certain form of mental disorder goes all the way to 70 percent of people that are registered or regularly attend drug counseling. Additionally, the resource also states that depression and anxiety are the most common heroin-related mental health issues. Furthermore, heroin addiction treatment often includes treatment of addiction from some other form of opioids. There are many cases where a person would try to “self-medicate” in order to fight heroin addiction on their own. This barely ever shows any positive signals, on the contrary, it can only lead to a new form of addiction or relapse. Additionally, heroin addicts can often isolate themselves from the rest of the community. This sort of conduct can lead to a number of behavioral issues, depression, and suicidal thoughts.

Therefore the first step would be to distinguish which of the patients need dual support. As the result, a new diagnosis emerged, called co-occurring disorder. This diagnosis means that the person suffers from substance abuse disorder and a mental illness like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Disregarding which problem was the first to show its symptoms, it is always difficult to cure the patient due to potential causal effects of treating both symptoms at the same time. In order to overcome the difficulties that follow the treatment period, it is recommended to work on lifestyle and social improvements. Depression and anxiety can lead to suicide or self-harming if not treated effectively. Proper lifestyle guidelines can create a healthier environment for the person that undergoes the rehab and help that same person adapt to a new life easier.

With such a complex task at hand drug and alcohol treatment centers need to administer the care simultaneously, with both progress reports under attention and comparison. The most effective way to tackle the co-occurring disorder is to start from the detox period and all the way to aftercare treatment. What’s more important is that all the time, patients mental health needs to be under monitoring. With withdrawal period causing all sides of side effects, the change of lifestyle, influence of medications (if used as a part of the therapy) patients mental health is under the constant state of pressure.

Tackling this sort of treatment is a job that requires all hands on deck, social workers, healthcare professionals, and comprehensive planning and coordination team. Additionally, people with specific mental difficulties should have their own personal coordinator that would organize the sessions. Some individuals could also require a specific setting in order to even agree on taking part in the therapy. In short, the very foundations of the therapy should take into consideration the specific mental health situations of the people that need help. In that regard, proper guidelines need to be imposed that would keep the patients well being always in the first place.

The treatment should be personalized, meaning that each person would undergo evaluation and diagnosis that would help to create a personalized plan of treatment. The reason for such an approach is that every person has a unique path to cross and there are no universal solutions. The rehab facilities should impose a treatment that would include both personal and group therapy in order to help the individual socialize and work together with other people. Moreover, listening to other people’s experience may serve as an inspiration for personal recovery. The help of other group members could show potential in times when an individual starts to lose hope in the progress of the therapy. The word of a person with experience in those and similar situations can mean a lot, not only in informative aspect but also as a sign of support. There’s nothing more important for a person with deep self-doubt than to have someone to show their sympathy and support.

It’s far from unusual for patients to experience crisis situations during the therapy. These issues could come as a part of a physical or mental addiction, and more importantly, the effects of the therapy on the mental condition of the patient. In those situations, it is more important than ever for the entire team to work together in order to adjust the therapy according to the problem at hand. Group therapy, as a part of the program, could be helpful in terms of participants sharing their personal experiences and helping each other through difficult times. There is a large disagreement in how many heroin users there are in the US. The National Survey on Drug Use shows a number of 130 thousand registered heroin users. However, there are some estimates that set the number of heroin users up to 900 thousand. Therefore it’s essential to encourage the patients to be supportive to the people they know are in a need for treatment. This can also benefit the self-esteem of the individual, which can have a positive effect on the progress of dual therapy.

It’s important to keep a positive attitude toward an individual’s prospects for improvement. The patients that undergo therapy don’t have a high self-esteem and they often experience suicidal thoughts. That’s why the therapy needs to be focused on both the physical and mental state of the patient. Encouragement and faith in the future recovery should be the top priority of the drug rehabilitation center staff. Moreover, integrating family therapy can expedite the rehabilitation progress and maintain positive attitude due to the involvement and support of family members. Close friends and family members could also participate in some of the activities that are part of the therapy. This would significantly benefit the patient’s treatment, as they need to feel the support of their loved ones. It could serve as a great motivator and also nudge the scales in the right direction in the time of crisis.

Finally, when the program is completed, it only becomes the start of a new life. This is where the support of the friends, family, and the therapists is of paramount importance. Socialization, working on skills and job opportunities, and well as focusing on positive thinking all need to be monitored by experts that would guide the person through those initial resocialization days.

Additionally, a 24/7 support line should be available just in case an individual needs any kind of emergency assistance from the people they know. Nobody knows when a patient might experience a crisis or deal with issues in life caused by their former addiction, so it’s imperative to always have a free line waiting where they can hear from someone they trust. More than that, all the institutions involved in treatment should maintain the “no wrong doors” policy. This way when a person is in need all the institutions would be available to provide help.

Final Thoughts

Heroin addiction is a serious issue that needs the attention of the entire community. Dealing with addiction can lead to appearance or enhancement of mental disease symptoms, and it might appear difficult to cope with sometimes. Maintaining a positive attitude, believing in those who treat you, and strong determination to get better are key to a successful therapy.  Many people lose faith in their recovery after long and exhausting sessions that take toll over time. However, with proper guidance, sincere care, and intensive, comprehensive medical assistance it is possible to create a better life and build a healthy future.

About the Author

Thanush Poulsen is a healthy blogger who investigates the problem of drug addiction in contemporary society. His primary focus is on the treatment options and prevention measures.