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24 hours rehab
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24 hours rehab

Call Now for Immediate Confidential Help and Advice 02038 115 619

24 hours rehab
Immediate Access for help and advice

Heroin Addiction Treatment & Rehab Explained

Of all the substances of abuse found on the streets of Britain today, none has the deadly reputation of heroin, which continues to kill well over 1,000 Britons each year. If you have a heroin addiction, you are placing your life in extreme jeopardy. Help is only a phone call away! In the form of any of several high-quality addiction treatment clinics which can be found up and down the country, you can find it. They save countless lives annually.

Where to Get Help for Heroin Addiction/Substance Abuse

For someone in the throes of heroin addiction, contemplating the great variety of different addiction treatment options now available can be extremely intimidating. Fortunately, making your way through the treatment landscape can be made significantly more comfortable with the help of an expert. If you have decided to seek professional advice to overcome your heroin addiction, you should start by contacting your GP and an addiction specialist. Discuss your situation and the treatment options, both public and private, which might be available to you.

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Importance of treating heroin addiction & when to seek treatment

The message of the UK government’s anti-heroin campaign of the 1980s – “heroin screws you up” – is as valid today as ever: heroin addiction ruins lives, while heroin abuse can kill you. Every time you take heroin, you expose yourself to the risk of great harm and stopping your heroin abuse could save your life. However, if you are in the grip of an addiction, stopping taking heroin is easier said than done, and almost always requires professional help.

There is certainly no “wrong time” to seek treatment, but of course the earlier you can do so the better the prognosis. If you have tried and failed to stop abusing heroin, and if heroin abuse has begun to have a detrimental impact on your life and health, you must get help as quickly as you can. Avoid doing further damage and exposing yourself further to the great danger which heroin abuse entails.

Understanding heroin addiction treatment and rehab options

One silver lining to the UK’s dreadful heroin problem is that the numerous treatment facilities and organisations now operating across the country have been able to develop very substantial expertise in the treatment of heroin addiction. However, not every kind of therapy, nor every facility will be suitable for you. Numerous factors, including your physical and mental condition, the severity of your heroin addiction, your financial status and your location will impact the nature of the treatment you receive. They will be valuable for how and where you receive it, and who provides it to you. The NHS, a private addiction treatment organisation or a charity, may all be your chosen provider.

  • Charities
  • NHS Options
  • Private Rehab
  • Residential Care
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Private rehab vs free treatment options for heroin addiction

There is a range of free options for the treatment of heroin addiction currently available in the UK. Most obviously, the NHS provides treatment which is free at the point of use, while numerous charities are also active in the field of heroin addiction treatment. However, places in free treatment services are typically limited, and waiting times can be extremely lengthy – and, tragically, many addicts succumb to their addictions while waiting for treatment.

If you have a heroin addiction and wish to get help immediately, you may want to opt for private addiction treatment. Many are distracted by the costs, but it is, in fact, covered by many private health insurance policies. Meanwhile, some private addiction treatment clinics offer credit and other options which can make paying for treatment immeasurably easier.

Executive/luxury rehab programmes for heroin addiction

You may wish to receive treatment in a luxury setting. It’s a good idea to investigate suitable rehab options where treatment is given in exceptionally luxurious settings. There, you can be sure of minimum stress and maximum comfort while you are receiving treatment for heroin addiction.

Meanwhile, if you work in a high-pressure or high-profile role, you may not feel able to take the time away from work required by addiction treatment. However, it is imperative that you do get treatment. You could explore executive rehab options where clinics offer facilities such as videoconferencing and high-speed internet. These would allow you to keep up to date with work and stay in contact with your colleagues.

What Happens in Heroin Rehab

While it is important not to develop too many preconceptions about heroin addiction treatment, it is possible to give a rough guide as to what you should expect to enter a clinic. Do remember, though, that no two experiences of addiction, treatment or recovery are the same. Although most clinics generally offer more or less similar processes, they will not be identical. If you wish to keep any potentially disruptive or uncomfortable surprises to a minimum, make sure you get as much information as you can about the specifics of treatment from any clinic which you are investigating.

Heroin rehab admission process

Clients entering into treatment for heroin addiction are typically at an extremely low point psychologically and may be unable to tolerate even mild stress. As a result, it is in the interests of all treatment facilities to keep their admissions processes as simple and straightforward as they can, to minimise the stress to which being admitted into treatment may expose clients. Upon contacting a treatment organisation, you will usually be asked to give some basic details about the severity of your addiction and your health, after which the organisation will recommend a clinic for you to attend.

At this point, private treatment firms will usually request a deposit, upon the payment of which your place in treatment will be reserved, and you will be invited to travel to the clinic in question (some rehabs will provide transport at this point).

Heroin addiction assessment

Having reached the clinic, you will undergo a full medical assessment designed to give doctors as complete as possible an understanding of your condition. It is vital that you are completely honest at this stage – and throughout treatment – with regards to the severity and duration of your addiction, and any other details which might be relevant to your case. If you are not completely candid, not only could you place the eventual success of treatment in jeopardy, but you may expose yourself to serious danger.

Based on your assessment, your doctors will then draw up an addiction treatment plan, according to which you will receive treatment for the rest of your stay. This treatment plan will be as comprehensive as possible, but will also need to be flexible to reflect developments during your treatment.

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Medically assisted/controlled detoxification

Once you have undergone your assessment, it is time for the first phase of treatment proper: detoxification (detox), during which your system will be cleansed of substances of abuse including heroin and any other opioids. Without detox, you will remain in the grip of heroin dependence and will be unable to focus properly upon the rest of your treatment.During detox, heroin withdrawal symptoms are very likely to manifest, some of which can be extremely distressing and debilitating.

Fortunately, in rehab your detox will be monitored and assisted by highly trained and experienced medical professionals who will be on hand 24/7 for your comfort and safety. They may be able to give you certain medications which can make the withdrawal process much less unpleasant.

Acceptance of the problem

No addiction treatment – let alone that of a substance as powerful as heroin – can hope to be successful unless the addict truly wants to escape their condition. If you are unable to accept that you have a heroin problem, you will be unable to devote yourself sufficiently to your treatment. Doctors will need to confirm such acceptance if they are to be confident that you will engage properly with the various components of your treatment plan.

Many addicts find it difficult to accept that they have a problem with heroin, partly because of the stigma attached to the drug and partly because they do not wish to admit to weakness; however, recognising that you have a problem is a vital first step on the road back to a heroin-free life.


After detox, and once any withdrawal symptoms have disappeared entirely or been brought down to a tolerable level, you will enter the rehabilitation phase. During this stage, you will engage in therapy designed to uncover and tackle the fundamental psychological causes of your heroin abuse and addiction. This is when you will learn and develop various tools and techniques which you can take with you into recovery to realise an abstinent life outside the clinic.

Working on the basis of “healthy body, healthy mind”, as well as therapy, you will be given tailored fitness and dietary plans and will have access to the other facilities your clinic offers.


It can be dangerous to think of yourself as having been “cured” of your addiction even once you complete your heroin addiction treatment plan and leave the clinic. Recovery is not secured once you leave treatment; you should consider it a constant process which requires ongoing hard work and dedication. Because clinics recognise that many pitfalls can lie in wait for addicts in recovery, good rehabs typically offer up to a year’s free aftercare after you complete treatment.

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What is an Inpatient Rehab Programme?

Inpatient – or residential – rehab involves clients residing on-site (usually for a treatment programme lasting between 30 and 90 days) in a secure, peaceful, friendly and confidential environment free from heroin and other substances of abuse, and perfectly conducive to healing and recovery. Clients receive all treatment in the clinic and benefit from the security of knowing that doctors are on-site 24/7, as well as from the presence of a ready-made peer group in the form of fellow clients who understand the profound challenges which addiction represents, and who can offer support, advice and fellowship throughout treatment.

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

You may feel that your responsibilities – such as those to family or work – are such that you cannot afford the time away from home which an inpatient rehab programme would entail. If this is the case, outpatient rehab might be an appropriate solution for you.

Outpatient heroin addiction treatment sees you attending the clinic for certain appointments, including therapy sessions and the prescription of medication, but conducting other elements of your addiction treatment plan by yourself. This gives you a great deal of flexibility and allows you to keep up your responsibilities. However, outpatient treatment will not take you away from the day-to-day environment in which you have succumbed to heroin addiction, thus making relapse significantly more likely.

Day Programmes

Some treatment clinics offer day programmes: treatment is provided at the clinic during working hours for anywhere between one and seven days each week, depending on the programme, but you are able to return home or to other accommodation at night.

Day programmes are usually considered to be especially suitable for clients who live close to the clinic and who can travel to and from them easily. They are also great for those who need treatment but have certain obligations (for example, young babies) which keep them at home at night time. For those who have particularly strong support networks which will be able to give them urgent assistance at times of crisis if they are away from the clinic, day programmes are also good options. If you have completed a treatment programme but wish to continue to receive additional support, you may also want to look into these.

On the other hand, day programmes are usually considered inappropriate for anyone lacking a strong support network; anyone living more than an hour away from the clinic; and anyone suffering from dual diagnosis or any other health complications which may impact upon treatment.

Intensive outpatient programmes

Intensive outpatient programmes have been developed because of a recognition of the need for flexibility which many clients now have. Such programmes see clients attending the clinic for four, five or even more extended (usually between three and five hours) sessions every week, whereas more traditional outpatient schedules tend to offer less frequent and significantly shorter sessions.

Clients receiving intensive outpatient treatment are usually free to go about their normal business outside their appointments and sessions at the clinic. However, this creates significant opportunities for relapse, since clients usually remain home during this period and are therefore typically still able to contact heroin dealers. As a result, anyone in an intensive outpatient treatment programme should expect to undergo frequent drug tests to ensure that they are staying abstinent during treatment.

Ongoing care

Ongoing care – more commonly known as “aftercare” – is treatment provided following the conclusion of an addiction treatment programme (usually one provided in residential rehab). Because recovery can be extremely challenging, good rehabs usually provide up to a year’s free aftercare to anyone who has completed a treatment programme.

A typical aftercare plan might include a schedule of appointments (on-site, via phone or email) which will decline in frequency over time as you proceed through recovery, and may also require you to engage in counselling and attend support group meetings. Some clinics also make their services available on an emergency basis for clients who experience crises, though this is not always guaranteed. Always get details of aftercare plans from any facility which you are considering attending.

How is Medication Used to Treat Addiction?

Although there is currently no pharmaceutical cure for heroin addiction (nor indeed for any other form of addiction), and treatment is founded upon therapy aimed at remediating problematic thought processes and behaviours, medication can and does play a number of important roles in addiction treatment. Some medication may be given to reduce the frequency and severity of cravings; other medicines may help reduce dosages – and even disincentivise substance abuse completely; others still can form safer, legal substitutes for dangerous illegal drugs (for example, methadone may be prescribed as an alternative to heroin). Meanwhile, of course, a wide range of medications may be provided if any danger to a client’s health develops during the course of treatment.

Medications used in addiction treatment & rehab

Numerous medications have been approved for the treatment of addiction in Britain – though of course not every medication is relevant in every case of addiction, and some may not be appropriate or safe to give every single addict: some medicine interacts extremely dangerously with either other medications or some substances of abuse, whilst some can be dangerous for individuals with particular health conditions, including dual diagnosis. As a result, it is extremely important that you never attempt to self-medicate; only ever take any medicine which has been prescribed to you by your doctor.

Depending on the severity of your heroin addiction, it is very likely that you will be prescribed some medication at least during detox to alleviate the worst impact of withdrawal; however, this is not a certainty, and whether or not you are given any medication and the type of medication you may receive, will be up to your doctors who will take their decision based on your initial assessment and your response to treatment.

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorphine (Buprenex)
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Modafinil (Provigil)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Bupropion (Buproban)
  • Gabapentin (Fanatrex)
  • Vigabatrin (Sabril)
  • Baclofen (Kemstro)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)

Psychotherapy for Heroin Addiction Treatment

Therapy lies at the heart of heroin addiction treatment; therapy uncovers and addresses the root psychological causes of addiction and aims to remediate the negative thoughts and behaviours which have contributed to its emergence. It is not enough simply to address the immediate physical pressures of dependence via detox and withdrawal (though this is, of course, also an indispensable aspect of treatment) because doing so without also addressing the more profound psychological issues which have caused addiction in the first place will make it extremely unlikely that the addict in treatment will be able to sustain abstinence.

Treating an addiction holistically involves healing both body and mind; if detox (potentially with the help of medication) can perform the former role, therapy is responsible for the latter, giving addicts more positive and healthy perspectives on the world and on themselves, and enabling them to approach life in the outside world with enthusiasm and optimism, and confidence that they can resist the temptations ahead of them.

Coping-focused psychotherapy

Coping-focused psychotherapy methodologies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) aim to improve a client’s abilities to cope with challenges (including those caused by substance abuse and addiction) by finding better ways to tackle those challenges than those the client may have deployed in the past.

In psychology, “coping” is interpreted as the conscious exertion of effort into the resolution of personal and interpersonal problems, in order to minimise, overcome, or tolerate conflict and stress. Most people develop effective coping strategies during childhood and adolescence and as they mature into adulthood; some, however, adopt substance abuse itself as a coping strategy, with understandably negative consequences. CBT and DBT are very common in heroin addiction treatment, and most rehabs will provide at least one – if not both – of these models.

Social skills/interpersonal/growth psychotherapy

The problems caused by inadequate social and interpersonal skills are a major factor in the development of addiction. Those suffering from such substandard social skills can struggle to achieve and sustain important relationships, including romantic and professional ones, which can understandably lead to significant psychological and emotional struggles; substance abuse is frequently used as a coping mechanism by such people, who may then also compound the situation by withdrawing from friends and loved ones as part of the increased isolation which is a typical consequence of addiction.

Interpersonal psychotherapists work to improve existing social skills and develop new ones in clients, whose overall happiness and well-being are typically improved (as are relationship and career prospects); advances made during interpersonal therapy can also feed back into other elements of treatment, as clients grow increasingly articulate and are thus better able to describe and investigate challenging emotions and thinking.

Exploratory psychotherapy

Exploratory, or psychodynamic, psychotherapy involves the exploration of past experiences and events and how they have impacted upon a client’s present thinking, as well as how they have contributed to the onset of substance abuse and addiction. Because this exploration can potentially feature the discussion of very traumatic experiences, some clients can find exploratory psychotherapy both difficult and distressing – but good therapists can work with great sensitivity to achieve very significant therapeutic results, including radical improvements to self-esteem, self-awareness, and mood regulation. Despite its often challenging nature, many clients who participate in exploratory psychotherapy as part of heroin addiction treatment go on to remain in therapy long after they complete that treatment, because of the broader benefits to their daily lives which they experience.

Types of Psychotherapy Used in Heroin Addiction Treatment

As the treatment of addiction has become increasingly sophisticated over recent decades, a great many therapy methodologies and models have been designed for use in the field. Obviously, any one clinic can only provide a limited selection of therapy types, and if you have a particular interest in receiving a specific type of therapy you may want to enrol in a clinic which offers that methodology. If this is the case, speak with an addiction specialist about which clinics provide which types of therapy.

Not every addict responds equally well to every kind of therapy, and some people prefer to try out various different therapies before settling on an approach which feels right for them; however, not all clinics are equally receptive to this kind of “trial and error” approach on the part of clients, and prior to committing to treatment in any clinic you may want to establish how much flexibility you will have in terms of trying out different therapy models.

  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Counselling
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Fitness therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Meditation
  • Music therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy

The Recovery Process

Having completed treatment, and once back out in the outside world, it is understandable that you might feel that you have overcome your heroin addiction completely. This can be a serious mistake, as recovery should be considered a long-term – perhaps lifelong – process, and in some ways the hardest part of your journey back to health and happiness only starts when you leave the secure confines of the clinic.

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Elements of recovery

No two journeys through recovery are identical – but of course, there can be similarities between different experiences from which valuable learnings may be taken. When contemplating recovery, it can be beneficial to break the process down into a number of different elements, each of which you can address individually in therapy in order to develop relevant tools and techniques in each area.

You should always remember that your skills and capabilities will differ from those of your peers, and although a great deal can be gained by learning from others, in the end, your recovery is yours alone and you should certainly not judge yourself too harshly if you feel that you are struggling in one particular area compared with your fellow addicts in treatment.

  • Developing hope
  • Secure base
  • Sense of self
  • Supportive relationships
  • Empowerment
  • Social inclusion
  • Coping skills
  • Giving meaning

How Long are Heroin Rehab Programmes?

The duration of yourheroin addiction treatment will be affected by a number of factors including the severity and longevity of your addiction, the state of your health and the nature of the treatment programme you undergo. A stay in private rehab for the treatment of heroin addiction will usually last between one and three months, although shorter (as short as 7 to 14 days) or, on the other hand, longer treatment plans are provided at some clinics.

You may begin treatment with a certain timeframe in mind, but you should be prepared for that timeframe to evolve over the course of your treatment: you may, for example, respond especially well to treatment and complete a treatment plan more rapidly than expected; on the other hand, it may become apparent for various reasons that it would benefit you to stay in treatment for longer than initially anticipated.

What does Heroin Rehab Cost in the UK?

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Very roughly, standard residential heroin addiction treatment in the UK costs somewhere between £4,000 and £15,000 a month; however, not only is that price range extremely broad, but costs can be impacted by a large number of different factors and can vary not only from one rehab to another, but from one treatment programme to another even within the same rehab.

Because pricing varies so substantially, it can be somewhat problematic to estimate, even roughly, the financial impact of treatment and your ability to pay for it without getting precise figures from any clinic which you are contemplating attending.

Be certain to get a full list of costings, and information about payment plans and paying with health insurance, from any clinic you speak with; an addiction specialist can give you further information, and may potentially be able to point you towards more affordable options.

Heroin Addiction Recovery and Aftercare

Good rehabs will provide you with up to a year’s free aftercare once you complete treatment and embark upon your recovery outside the clinic. You should make the most of any ongoing support you are offered in order to give you the most solid foundation possible for recovery; some people find returning to the clinic for aftercare quite difficult, as they do not wish to be reminded of their addictions and their previous conditions, but you should strive to overcome any such feelings, as aftercare can be a crucial element of your recovery.

Recovery and community

The stronger the support group to which you have access, the easier your recovery will be and the greater the likelihood that you will be able to sustain it indefinitely. Most people think of loved ones and friends when considering support structures; however, you should also take advantage of the fact that there are now untold thousands of recovering heroin addicts in the UK, representing a valuable community that can give you support during recovery. Moreover, you can give your own support in turn to other members of that community, which can be therapeutic in its own right.

Support groups

A number of support groups – including Narcotics Anonymous (NA) – are now active throughout the UK providing support to recovering heroin addicts. Support group organisations typically provide meetings on a weekly basis; attendance at such meetings is usually free, with the only criterion being a firm commitment to leading an abstinent life. To find out more about support groups, and to learn which groups are active in your area, speak with an addiction specialist.


NA is founded on the 12-step methodology which was first developed by the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Although not everyone is willing to embrace every aspect of a 12-step programme (as certain steps may be incompatible with certain personal beliefs), they have saved millions of lives around the world over the years, and could be a positive element of your recovery. Contact an addiction specialist to learn more about 12-step programmes.

Heroin Anonymous

Heroin Anonymous (HA) is a fellowship modelled on AA which was set up in 2004 to provide support to heroin addicts specifically. HA is active in the UK with meetings held throughout the country. Anyone who struggles with heroin addiction, and is committed to abstinence, can join.

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If you suffer from heroin addiction, the cold fact is that your habit could kill you – and even if it does not, it could destroy everything you hold dear in your life. Don’t allow such dreadful eventualities to become real.

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