Whilst it is possible to get community-based treatment based on harm reduction treatment, research has shown that retention in a residential treatment programme is the option most likely to result in success if abstinence is the aim.
When an individual enters a heroin rehab, their treatment will usually be split into two parts; the physical detox, and then the psychological support.
For a heroin user, the physical detox will usually take around one to two weeks, depending on the severity of the dependence. Once an individual has completed the detox, rehab will focus on the psychological aspects of the dependence.
A structured programme of psychological, educational and social therapy is provided, which aims at preparing the person to better manage a drug-free life back in society.
The minimum residential period recommended for psychological support is four weeks, but the longer a person commits to spending in treatment, the higher the chance of success.
However, treatment alone can only go so far. The heroin addict must want recovery and be prepared to make radical lifestyle changes.
Making and maintaining that change requires help and support, which is where the importance of a good aftercare programme comes in.
Aftercare comes in many forms; care-coordination which involves the overall management of the individual’s recovery plan when they are back at home, relapse prevention counselling which focuses on developing coping strategies to deal with high risk times for relapse, other forms of counselling aimed at providing caring support for the individual, medical/psychiatric reviews aimed at improving both physical and mental wellbeing, and attendance at Narcotics Anonymous meetings.
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