How To Help Someone Addicted To Heroin
From finding out treatment options to taking part in family therapy, there are several important things friends and family can do if they’re trying to help a loved one who is addicted to heroin.
Helping a person who is addicted to heroin may at times seem overwhelming, but fortunately, with knowledge, the right resources, and professional assistance, it is possible to get a loved one the help they need.
Becoming involved in the treatment-planning process and supporting a person throughout recovery are two of the best things a family member can do for their loved one.
The following suggestions can guide family members as they work to help a loved one who is addicted to heroin:
Know The Signs Of Heroin Abuse And Addiction
Knowing the signs of heroin abuse and addiction can help a loved one spot a potential problem, so that treatment can be sought.
When a person is abusing heroin, their behaviors may change as they spend more time finding and using the drug. As this occurs, their health and quality of life can greatly suffer.
At this time, the following signs and symptoms of heroin abuse may develop, including when a person:
- uses heroin more frequently or in greater amounts than they planned on.
- is unable to stop or decrease the amount they use, even after trying several times to do so.
- loses large amounts of their day to using heroin or feeling sick after it begins to wear off.
- has overwhelming urges or cravings to find and use more of the drug.
- develops problems at home, work, or at school because of using heroin.
- continues to use heroin even though it’s harming their relationships.
- loses interest in hobbies, recreational activities, or responsibilities that are important to them.
- takes part in risky behaviors that jeopardize their safety while under the influence of the drug.
- keeps taking heroin even after it starts to cause physical or mental health problems.
- develops a tolerance and needs a higher dose to experience the feelings they desire.
- goes into withdrawal if they quit cold turkey or if they greatly reduce their dose.
When a person has a mild heroin use disorder, they may only show a few of these signs, however, people who are severely addicted may have many of them.
Identify Enabling Behaviors
Despite having good intentions, many people unknowingly enable their loved one. Doing so can be harmful to both the addicted person and those who care about them.
When a person is enabling someone they commonly do things the addicted individual should be able to on their own. This could include taking on more responsibilities around the home. Giving a person money that can be spent on heroin is a common form of enabling.
Enabling behaviors prevent an addicted person from experiencing the consequences of their heroin abuse. People who enable frequently make excuses for an addicted person, such as covering up for them when they’re high or sick from using heroin.
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Understanding the difference between helping and enabling can help loved ones give their family member the best support at this time.
Setting healthy boundaries and rooting out harmful enabling behaviors could help the addicted person see the severity of their addiction. In turn, this may help them understand the need for treatment.
Stage An Intervention For Heroin Addiction
Chronic heroin abuse can change the way a person thinks. This, with denial, can make it very difficult for a person to see that they need help.
A formal intervention led by a professional, called an interventionist, can be a valuable resource at a time like this. While some friends and families may be tempted to plan an intervention on their own, professionally led interventions are generally more successful.
In addition to helping families plan and carry out the intervention, a good interventionist will educate families on the disease of addiction. They should also help families discover treatment options and make transportation arrangements. Some will even accompany the person to rehab.
Find A Drug Rehab Program For A Loved One Who Is Addicted To Heroin
Understanding the different options for heroin addiction treatment can help family members find treatment that best fits their loved one’s needs.
Not every person has the same treatment needs. An individual’s history, health, lifestyle, family needs, and support system can all influence the type of program that works best for them.
Addiction can affect a person emotionally, mentally, physically, socially, and even spiritually. Because of the unique circumstances of each client, the best treatment plans are individualized to each person’s needs and recovery goals.
A variety of services may be built into a person’s treatment plan for heroin addiction, including:
Heroin Detox Programs
While outpatient detox programs are available, inpatient medical detox programs for heroin addiction are often a better option for people who are moderately to severely addicted.
These residential programs offer 24-hour care and monitoring, so that a person is as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Medications are a critical part of medically assisted detoxification. Medications are used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms caused by opioids, such as heroin. This includes evidence-based medications like Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone).
A detox program is typically not treatment enough on its own. For the greatest chance of long-term sobriety, a person should move to rehab after they’ve detoxed.
Heroin Inpatient Drug Rehab Programs
An inpatient drug rehab program, also referred to as residential treatment, provides the highest level of care for heroin addiction.
For this reason, these programs may be recommended for individuals who are moderately to severely addicted.
This intensive level of care can also be a good option for a person who has:
- been addicted for a long period of time.
- a co-occurring mental health disorder or dual diagnosis.
- a history of relapse.
Inpatient rehab gives a person greater access to treatments as well, such as therapy and counseling sessions.
Heroin Outpatient Addiction Treatment
Outpatient treatment provides flexible options for people who don’t need the higher level of care offered in a residential program.
These options may include traditional outpatient, intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and partial hospitalization programs (PHP).
The exact way outpatient treatment is used, if at all, is dependent on a person’s specific needs.
An outpatient drug rehab program for heroin may be used:
- as treatment after a minor relapse.
- to help a person who is mildly to moderately addicted find sobriety for the first time.
- as a preventative measure for someone who fears they might relapse.
- as a step-down program to help a person transition from inpatient treatment.
Heroin Aftercare And Alumni Support Services
Once a person is in treatment, their family members may be wondering what happens after rehab and how to help their loved who is recovering from heroin addiction.
Recovery is a process that requires constant upkeep. Aftercare programs and alumni support services can help a person stay inspired and focused on their recovery goals.
Aftercare planning may take place during treatment, however, many communities have a network of aftercare resources that can be highly beneficial to treatment graduates.
Aftercare and alumni support services may include:
- mentorship programs
- job coaching
- online recovery resources
- self-help groups
- self-improvement classes
- sober living homes
Family Therapy And Support For Heroin Addiction
A strong social support system, including the support of close loved ones, can boost a person’s chance for a successful recovery.
Addiction is often referred to as a family disease. This means that the damage of addiction extends beyond the person who uses heroin to their family members.
Many addiction treatment centers offer family therapy and support programs. Taking part in these programs and family events can be very healing. They can also boost a person’s morale while they’re in rehab and remind them of what they’re fighting for.
Even more, these programs work to undo harmful and dysfunctional patterns in the family that may fuel addiction. Therapy teaches family members healthier ways to communicate. It can also show loved ones how to support an addicted person as they pursue their recovery goals.
Other Ways To Help A Person Who Is Addicted To Heroin
The cost of treatment is one of the biggest reasons why many people put off going to rehab.
Helping a person navigate the financial part of the treatment-planning process can reduce stress, a common trigger for relapse, and make treatment seem like an achievable goal.
Insurance coverage can be a big help at this time. Contacting an insurance carrier to find out what treatments and facilities are covered could help a person get into treatment sooner.
If a person can’t afford treatment, making a financial contribution at this time can also be helpful. If an individual can’t afford this, they could organize a crowdfunding campaign or help their loved one look into other options, such as personal loans and medical credit cards.
Driving a person to rehab can be very helpful too. This also provides an opportunity for a person to feel supported during what can be an overwhelming and scary time.
How To Get Help For A Person Who Is Addicted To Heroin
Reaching out for professional help at this time can take some of the weight off friends and family who are concerned about their loved one’s heroin abuse.
Highly trained and compassionate addiction specialists can connect families to information and treatment options, so that their loved one can the care they need.
Contact Addiction Campuses today for more resources on heroin abuse, addiction, and treatment.Article Sources
National Institute on Drug Abuse - https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-treatments-heroin-use-disorder
U.S. National Library of Medicine - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424859/
Wiley Online Library - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1440-1819.2006.01476.x