Many struggling addicts do not really understand the difference between heroin detox vs. heroin treatment. The main difference can quickly become evident to anyone who has gone through the heroin detoxification process and promptly ended up relapsing on heroin shortly thereafter. So what is the difference between the two, and how can a struggling addict use this information to benefit them in heroin addiction recovery? Let’s take a look.
The Heroin Detox Process
The process of detox from heroin generally lasts for about 3 to 5 days, depending on the type of heroin being used, the route that it is taken by, and how long the addict has been abusing the drug for. In some extreme cases the acute detox process can last even longer than 5 days. Such is the case when a user is using pure white heroin, or Fentanyl, and is also using it intravenously. While not technically heroin, this drug is often sold as heroin–or “china white“–and is actually about 300 times more powerful than regular heroin in terms of potency. This is measured by the persistence of the opiate molecules in the brain and their ability to fill an opiate receptor site. China white is about 300 times more powerful than regular heroin, so a user of that substance may have a prolonged detox.
Regardless of the type of heroin being used, a point comes very early in recovery when the body is physically detoxed from the drug, and any cravings experienced are now psychological in nature rather than physical. This is the point at which heroin detox and heroin treatment start to differ. Anything done after this point of complete detoxification is strictly an effort at treating addiction to heroin, and no longer pertains to the detox portion of recovery. In other words, heroin detox treatment only lasts for about a week at the most. Heroin treatment can last for much longer, and indeed can last for the rest of the addict’s life.
The Importance of Heroin Addiction Treatment
This is where the struggling heroin addicts can potentially get confused. They may believe–at first–that getting through the horrible discomfort of heroin withdrawal will be enough to insure that they do not return to using their drug of choice. Nearly every addict quickly finds out that this is not the case, and that a great deal of effort is necessary in order to maintain sobriety. Thus the need for heroin treatment comes into play. Ongoing treatment can come in many forms, such as 12 step meetings, inpatient rehab, long term treatment, group therapy, counseling, drug maintenance, and so on. The need for ongoing treatment in early recovery becomes painfully obvious after an addict has tried to make it on their own and ended up relapsing following detox.
This has recently become an even trickier issue with the advent of heroin rapid detox, where the heroin addict is basically put under and goes through the detox process without feeling any discomfort at all. In such cases, there is no painful memory of the detox process to help insure that the addict remains drug free. Thus there is less natural incentive to stay clean and sober when so much of the pain of heroin addiction detox has been avoided.
With scientists conducting more studies on heroin addiction, it wouldn’t be surprising if they discover newer and faster ways to detoxify in a matter of years.