Heroin addiction is a deadly disease and one that, unfortunately, is plaguing many areas of the country in record numbers. Many communities are struggling to find ways in which this sometimes lethal condition may be treated so that the tragic numbers of deaths related to heroin overdose may be cut down. Like any other kind of addiction, heroin addiction is a complicated disease, and proper treatment requires smart and well thought out strategy.
There are a number of different types of treatment available for individuals struggling with heroin addiction, and finding the right treatment depends on the personality type of the addict. One type of treatment that many addiction therapists are weary of, however, is the use of other drugs to treat heroin addiction. Many doctors argue that this type of treatment may be counter productive and even dangerous.
What Type of Drugs Are Used To Treat Heroin Addiction?
The most commonly used drug in prescription-assisted heroin addiction treatment is methadone. Methadone is in essence a synthetic version of heroin, which means that it satisfies the brain’s reward center’s cravings for heroin without providing the extreme mind altering effects, and, possibly, while being less dangerous than heroin. Unlike heroin, methadone is regulated and dispensed in the form of a tablet. Many communities have methadone clinics, where heroin addicts can be administered methadone to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of heroin.
Another type of medication that is slightly newer than methadone is buprenorphine, which offers similar effects to methadone. A third type of prescription that is available to recovering addicts is naltrexone, which is unique in that it does not simulate heroin use, but rather blocks the effects of heroin and thus ideally removes an addict’s incentive to use.
Mental Dangers Presented By Prescription Options
There appears to be a number of dangers involved in using drugs to treat the addiction to another drug. It is irrefutably true that heroin is a far more dangerous drug than any of its prescription replacements, so the notion that a transition is ideal is not completely misguided. That said, many counselors and therapists warn that when an addict transitions from heroin to another drug, they do not develop the adequate mental skills to remain drug free for life.
The process of recovery is a long and difficult one, and heroin is certainly on of the most painful and uncomfortable drugs that a person can withdraw from, which is why doctors agree that withdrawal should always occur in the context of a treatment facility.
Though heroin withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and difficult, it may be much more advantageous for an addict to completely withdraw and then begin the process in treatment of developing the mental tools necessary to avoid triggers without using. Addicts who successfully do this may be much less likely to relapse.
Physical Dangers Posed By Methadone and Similar Drugs
The other reality of methadone use is that while it is more safe than heroin itself, methadone is by no means a safe drug. It is possible to overdose on methadone and similar medications, and many addicts who use methadone still have the tendency to use to excess, since addiction is a disease that never truly goes away. This means that it is very likely that a person who was at one point addicted to heroin may use methadone to the point of overdosing.
This risk may be especially prevalent among addicts who have begun to administer the drug to themselves, as happens frequently at many clinics after an addict has received their initial few doses. Methadone is simply not a safe option.