Found naturally in the Asian poppy plant and taken as a sticky brown, black or white powder, heroin is one of the most addictive and deadliest of all abused substances. Users will either inject, snort or smoke this harmful drug to achieve intoxication. But despite heroin’s addictiveness and the difficulties many addicts face when looking to quit, with careful attention to recovery and adequate support heroin dependency can be conquered.
The obvious question then is “how long does it take?” Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer to this question. Yes, as a guide, treatment programs typically range from 28 days to 3 months. But depending on the severity of your affliction and your individualised mental and physical needs, the amount of time it takes to break the cycle of heroin addiction can vary significantly. I will say this however, typically treatment programs of 90 days or more tend to achieve higher success rates.
It is not simply the length of treatment that is important. Your age, the period of heroin abuse, the usage amounts and the severity of your addiction all determine the duration of your recovery, and in particular how long it takes to resolve the uncomfortable heroin withdrawal symptoms. For those of you who are a little older, or have been dependant on the drug for a prolonged period, then the likelihood is your withdrawal will be more challenging.
With this in mind it is important to seek advice from a specialist addiction treatment provider on the optimal approach to rehabilitation and the likely length of recovery.
The challenges of heroin detox
As we eluded to above, unfortunately recovering from heroin abuse is not a walk in the park. The recovery is littered with constant cravings for the drug and users often experience bone and muscle pain, cold flashes, restlessness, diarrhoea and vomiting during the withdrawal process. For some this can be a pain too hard to bear and relapse throughout this stage is frequent, if only to relieve the discomfort felt during this painful withdrawal.
However, formal detoxification is essential to flush the drug out of your body and to prepare yourself for success in the latter parts of your rehabilitation. A formal detox can take a few days to several weeks or months.
Inpatient care is often the best approach
Due to the addictiveness of heroin, and the debilitating impacts of withdrawal, enrolling in an extended period of inpatient rehab is often appropriate and delivers the most favourable outcome. With 24 hour supervision, no access to heroin and (equally importantly) a separation from your existing social networks, you can take the time you need to get your life back on track.
A range of therapies and education may be applied during the inpatient stay to help you with substance abuse and your reintegration into society. Common treatments include individual, group and family counselling, medical care, medication based therapy, mental health services and the treatment of coexisting disorders, teaching techniques to avoid relapse. cognitive behavioural therapy, participation in 12 step programs and recovery groups, as well as after care planning.