Heroin Addiction: What Your Journey Looks Like Before and After Treatment

The drastic difference in your life before and after heroin addiction is a testament to the difficult nature of heroin addiction, but also to the benefits of the many treatment approaches for heroin addiction. Through withdrawal management, various therapies, and relapse prevention, you will come to realize that what happens after treatment takes place on a road defined by positivity and personal growth.

Most people’s mental portraits of heroin addicts are unflattering, to say the last. But if they look past the cultural stigma of the “homeless” heroin junkie, they’ll see a much different picture of this addiction—one that includes everyday folk as well as successful businessmen, famous actors, and talented musicians.

Heroin addiction does not discriminate. Anyone can fall under its spell, and once under, it can be difficult to resurface and break free from its pull.

Despite the power of this drug, residential treatment programs have a long history of successfully helping people through heroin addiction and put their lives back together one piece at a time. Seeing someone before and after heroin addiction is a sharp contrast, but in that contrast, there is proof that hope is not unfounded; it’s never too late to make a change and start following a more positive path.

The Difficult Nature of Heroin Addiction


People have the misconception that it takes “just one hit” to get addicted to heroin, but this belief doesn’t paint a complete picture and undermines the complexity of addiction. Heroin use cause long-term changes in the brain that are not instantaneous, instead taking place over time and slowly blanketing your everyday life.

Diagnostic symptoms include:

  • Frequent consumption that increases over time
  • Neglecting work, school, and housework
  • Heavy cravings
  • A pattern of heroin use in situations that cause physical danger

And that’s not including the effects that it has at a biological level, such as damages to impulse control that can drive your addiction forward at an even faster rate and make recovery more and more of a challenge.

But just because heroin is difficult to quit, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Although the first steps are often the hardest, it gets easier as time goes on. And once you begin, you will continue to grow and learn about the root causes of your addiction and the many ways that you can break free of its grasp.

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Treatment Approaches for Heroin Addiction


In residential treatment, the nature of your recovery will depend on your specific needs and situation. Although medically supervised detox precedes any addiction program, when it comes to the triggers and underlying reasons for using heroin, they depend on your unique circumstances. Your path to recovery will become clearer as time goes on.

Following an initial round of comprehensive psychological testing, there are a few key treatment modalities which almost all programs addressing heroin addiction include:

  • Withdrawal management is very important, as heroin is known for its painful withdrawal symptoms. No matter how much you try and will yourself to stop, it’s hard not to feel helpless once the vomiting, sweating, and shaking start to set in. It’s one of the biggest barriers to overcoming heroin addiction, but in treatment, you can move past it with the help of careful, medically-supervised detox and, in some cases, drugs like Suboxone that reduce heroin’s pleasurable feeling. The combination of controlling these symptoms and reducing heroin’s draw paves the way for you to begin exploring different therapies, which are just as important as detoxing.
  • Therapies range from one-on-one sessions to explore the personal roots of your addiction to mindfulness meditation, which (on top of developing self-awareness) can help promote feelings of optimism and well-being. All forms of therapy are important on their own, but when alongside each other, they can augment each others’ benefits and really propel your journey to recovery forward.
  • Relapse prevention is important because it works in conjunction with therapies and withdrawal management to better understand what drives your drug use and how to prevent cravings. It also helps you and your supports unearth co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and any other mental health condition that is tied to your addiction. By learning to cut these ties, you’ll curb the allure of heroin use and minimize the chances of relapse.

This is by no means an exhaustive list—there are many different ways that comprehensive residential treatment guides you to recovery, and the treatment modalities that work for you will likely change and evolve with time as you continue to grow. But at the end of the day, they all work together to help you make progress toward the same goal: getting clean and moving on, sans drugs.

What Happens After Addiction Treatment?


Treatment programs are not just temporary band-aids that ease the pain of addiction—they are long-term solutions that help you remain strong in the face of the worst times and continue living the best life you can without drugs. You will always have supports available to you, even after leaving treatment, and the knowledge and tools that you gain will never fade. Tackling your addiction isn’t easy, but the future awaiting you after treatment will be brighter for it, and you will be able to look forward to a life defined by optimism, change, and personal growth.

Alta Mira offers comprehensive treatment for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction as well as co-occurring mental health disorders and process addictions. Contact us to learn more about our renowned programs and how we can help you or your loved one start the journey toward recovery.