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Types of heroin addiction treatment available Information

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Types of heroin addiction treatment available

There are many different types of treatment available for heroin addiction, ranging from residential rehab centers UK to community based detox maintenance programmes. During treatment there are different drugs that can be used to make the process of stabilisation or detox as comfortable as possible. Lobmaier, Gossop, Waal and Bramness (2010) aimed to review the drugs used in the treatment of heroin addiction.

Lobmaier et al. (2010) highlighted that the most common type of therapeutic treatment for a heroin addiction is opioid maintenance treatment. Maintenance treatment can be considered more effective than a standalone detox. In a heroin detox, methadone, bupenorphrine or lofexdine are typically substituted for the amount of heroin taken. This is then gradually reduced until the individual is opiate free, which can take anything from five to 28 days. However, a detox alone is usually not enough as it will not address the psychological factors that contribute to heroin dependence and subsequent relapses. This is supported by empirical studies (e.g., Growing, Farrell, Ali & White, 2009).

Opiate maintenance treatment on the other hand aims to help people stop their illicit drug use and the detrimental consequences they often have on the individuals life, such as criminal activity to fund the addiction to illegal substances. In opiate maintenance treatment, replacement opiate drugs can be used for long periods. The reasoning behind this is to stabilise the individuals dependence, and their associated behaviours, then gradually reduce their usage of methadone over time in a controlled manner.

Methadone is most often used in opiate maintenance treatment, closely followed by bupenorphrine. Other drugs that can be used are naltrexone, which reduces the craving for heroin and is typically used following a heroin detox as it blocks the pleasurable affects of heroin if used.

In sum, there are many different types of drugs that can be used for opiate detox and maintenance treatments. The benefits of each would benefit from further research, particularly the more recent developments such as naltrexone implants. However, Labmaier et al. (2010) note that although more costly, a combination of drugs and psychosocial therapies are most effectively used in the treatment of heroin and other opiate addictions.


Gowing, L., Farrell, M., Ali, R., & White, J. M. (2009). Alpha2-adrenergic agonists for the management of opioid withdrawal. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD002024.pub3/abstract;jsessionid=1EA7E00CE88FBC7E5C860D3F2B4780CF.d01t04?systemMessage=Wiley+Online+Library+will+be+disrupted+3+Dec+from+10-12+GMT+for+monthly+maintenance

Lobmaier, P., Gossop, M., Waal, H., & Bramness, J. (2010). The pharmacological treatment of opioid addiction – a clinical perspective. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 66, 537-545.

Article published on 06/12/2020 by PCUG Addiction Treatment