Regular use of heroin and other opioids result in strong physical dependence resulting in the individual relying on the drug to simply prevent withdrawal. Many heroin addicts no longer enjoy their drug use but simply continue using to fend off withdrawals.

As a result, the first stage of any heroin rehab programme will be heroin detoxification. At The Providence Projects, all clients are assessed by one of our doctors on admission to ensure that everyone has a personalised detox regime to ensure a safe, and comfortable, detox.

Both The Providence Projects and The Providence Surgery are highly experienced in heroin detox. The Providence Projects have been providing this service since 1996 and The Providence Surgery were recently rated as ‘Outstanding’ by The Care Quality Commission.

Alcohol detox at Providence Projects

What is heroin detox?

Opiate withdrawal refers to the wide range of symptoms that occur after stopping or dramatically reducing opiate drugs after prolonged use.

All prescribing is overseen by Dr Mufeed Niman. Each patient is treated in a caring and delicate manner to help make them feel safe and comfortable and to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid withdrawal reactions are very uncomfortable but are not usually life threatening. Symptoms usually start within 12 hours of last heroin usage and within 30 hours of last methadone exposure. As pointed out, most of these symptoms and sometimes all of them are alleviated during your prescribed detox regime here at the Project.

Please note, detox alone is not the solution for the ‘addict’ or ‘alcoholic’. It is often necessary and is the beginning of the treatment recovery process but without the necessary therapeutic interventions that treatment offers, the chances of long term recovery are slim.

Getting through a heroin detox is the first step on the road to recovery. There are a number of options available to those who want to quit drugs, including both inpatient and home detoxes. Our team of addiction specialists are on hand to guide you through the options available.

It is important to know what to expect from a heroin detox before you begin so that you can make sure you complete the process in the most appropriate way to your situation.

The best chance you have of overcoming heroin addiction is finding a programme that works for you. With so many options available, it can be difficult to know where to look. Fortunately, there is plenty of help available.

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What are heroin withdrawal symptoms?

Each person will experience different symptoms when trying to cut down, reduce or stop their heroin use. It will depend on a variety of factors and is not as straight forward as how much one is using or how long one has been using for. Generally, those who are looking to detox from methadone will often experience longer withdrawals due to the nature of the drug.

Many of the withdrawals experienced are physical. These are also linked with psychological withdrawals which result in strong cravings. This is why trying to stop without professional help can be too difficult.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Runny Nose
  • Yawning
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Depression
  • Watery eyes
  • Intense craving
  • Insomnia
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Constipation / Diarrhoea

What is the best heroin detox?

There are of course a range of options and medications when considering a heroin detox. Substitutes such as methadone or buprenorphine are generally popular while some people prefer to simply reduce slowly. Over the years, people have used Lofexidine, Dihydrocodeine, sedation, and a plethora of ranges and techniques to break the physical heroin addiction.

Research in recent years and clear guidelines published by NICE demonstrate that the most effective medication in detox is buprenorphine (subutex). This medication works slightly differently in that it also partially acts as a blocker whilst being very effective at minimising withdrawal symptoms.

Detox regimes will vary in length dependent on a range of factors. The majority of heroin detox programmes at The Providence Projects are between 10 and 14 days. As well as buprenorphine, there are other medications used during detox to assist with sleep and other potential withdrawal symptoms. Success rate for heroin detox at The Providence Projects is 95%.

Although the right medication is key in a successful detox programme, the wrap around support is equally important. At The Providence Projects all clients are provided with a range of comprehensive therapies including talking therapies, complementary therapies and physical therapies to ensure a holistic treatment. Recovery from addiction is not about medication but that medication is necessary as a bridge into recovery.

Home detox from heroin

When deciding whether to go into a detox and drug rehab clinic or to detox from home, there are a range of factors to consider.

Detoxing at home may be more convenient as it will not involve any travel and will probably be far cheaper. Home detox programmes usually cost in the region of £1,000 – £2,000. For many reasons, home detox has a much lower success rate than heroin detox at a rehabilitation clinic.

The disadvantages of home detox:

  • No supportive therapy programme
  • No addictions counsellors on hand on a daily basis
  • Possible lack of understanding from those around you
  • Relapse triggers
  • Lack of monitoring
  • Association

The combination of these factors makes detoxing at home very difficult. In fact, those that do manage to complete a home detox generally find it very hard to maintain recovery afterwards due to Post Acute Withdrawal symptoms and a lack of skills to remain clean.

If home detox is your only option due to personal circumstances, The Providence Projects can offer advice and support in this area.

How long is heroin detox?

As mentioned previously, there are a range of options for a heroin detox and depending on the route you choose will affect how long the detox is. NICE guidelines strongly advise against rapid detox for a range of reasons. This approach is generally unsuccessful and potentially dangerous. Some people prefer to go on to long term opioid maintenance prescriptions. Most commonly this will be a methadone script. Most local authority drug agencies will use this as their first line of treatment and whilst there are some benefits, there are also a range of pitfalls.

Methadone, which has a much longer half-life, is a highly addictive drug. Due to the way in which it is released, many methadone users want to reduce or stop but find that it is too difficult and the withdrawals are too much to manage. Those who support methadone use claim that on the right levels of methadone, users can function effectively and live a normal and happy life. In our experience this is a very rare occurrence. Like any opioid drug; taken over a long period of time it is simply not good for you. There are a range of long-term side effects which can be quite debilitating and generally prevents people from living a full life in recovery.

To detox from heroin and be drug free is the best goal. Getting into recovery is what most people want and really is the life that people deserve. The length of a heroin detox for this purpose will depend on the length of use, the quantities used and a range of personal health factors and history. The average length of heroin detox at The Providence Projects is 12 – 14 days. During this period, clients are monitored regularly to ensure comfortable withdrawal. The detox regime is flexible and can be reviewed or amended at any time depending on the process of the client.

Heroin detox: what happens next?

This really is the key. Believe it or not, in many ways, the detox is the easy part of recovery! There may be times that you experience cravings or some mild withdrawals but the success rate of heroin detox is very close to 100%.

The key to recovery is staying stopped. The comprehensive and intensive heroin rehab programme provides you with the level of support required during those difficult stages after detox. It also gives you the skills and the tools required to stay clean after completing your rehab programme.

As part of this process, there are a range of therapies including 1-1 counselling, group therapy, assignments, workshops, family therapy, exercise, self esteem work, relationship workshops and much more. This programme enables people to not only break the cycle of addiction, but to ensure that this cycle can be broken for good.

Learn more about our drug or alcohol rehab programmes at the Providence Projects. Call our team of experienced counsellors on 0800 955 0945 and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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