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Contrary to what many people might think, recovery from addiction to heroin does not stop with heroin detox. Heroin detoxification, as a matter of fact, is just the first step—a very important one—in the heroin recovery process.
Heroin Counseling and Therapy
Once an addict is done with detoxification from heroin, it is recommended that he or she take the next important step, which is therapy / counseling. The psychological aspects of heroin dependence are addressed in this stage. Licensed counselors or therapists take the lead here, engaging the heroin addict in private, one-on-one sessions, with a group of other recovering heroin addicts, or for members of the patient’s immediate family.
As with any other types of counseling, the goal of heroin addiction counseling is to delve deep into the personal history of the addict, get an understanding of what triggers the individual to use heroin, and formulate a plan that would help the addict deal effectively with any situation that could lead to renewed heroin use. Now that sounds simple enough, but there is no such thing as an easy way to complete recovery from heroin addiction. While counseling works for some people, it is best used only in certain situations. It is also best used in many cases when counseling is combined with other forms of therapy and heroin treatments.
Aftercare Programs and Heroin Support Groups
While detoxification and counseling are essential parts of the heroin addiction recovery process, they are, more often than not, just not enough to achieve a full rehabilitation from heroin. So many addicts who have been detoxified and have undergone counseling have suffered a relapse after completing a treatment program.
What most people don’t understand is that completing a basic addiction treatment program doesn’t mean an addict can go on with a sober life free from challenges that involve heroin. On the contrary, the patient is faced with new challenges. Once a heroin addict completes treatment and goes out on his own, he will be faced with hurdles, mainly in the form of old buddies who are still doing heroin, or stressful situations that could act as trigger for a renewed craving for the drug. In short, the heroin recovery success or failure of a patient depends on how well the individual faces stressors and triggers in their everyday lives.
It is for the purpose of helping individuals deal with these stressors and maintain their sobriety that aftercare programs were put in place. These programs offer a much more deliberate approach to treating heroin addiction, and are therefore more successful in the long term.
Twelve-step support groups, for instance, help an individual remain sober long after they have completed their stint rehab centers. For heroin addicts, there is Heroin Anonymous. Patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, HA is a fast-growing heroin addiction support group of men and women dedicated to helping any heroin addict through regular meetings, sponsorship and on-going heroin support. Membership is free, and it is pretty widespread, with Heroin Anonymous
meetings taking place in almost every major or mid-size city in the United States.
A recovering heroin addict can also opt to go for sober living. Sober house facilities are designed to help patients make a smooth transition back into everyday life. Some addicts, after all, tend to feel a bit uncertain about diving back into a normal life immediately after treatment.
Heroin addiction recovery is an undertaking that requires a certain amount of effort not only from the patient, but also from family and friends who are expected to be there every step of the way. Technically, the process--from detox to the very crucial counseling stage to aftercare-- can end within a few weeks or a few months. However, complete and successful recovery from addiction to heroin is a process that may take an entire lifetime.