A Protocol for Treating Heroin Addiction

While there appears to be a heroin epidemic that is causing middle America to lose their minds, the fact is that, while not every heroin user wants to get clean, there is a treatment protocol that will work.  This protocol should address all three (3) layers of a human life: 1) the biological; 2) the pycho-emotional; and, 3) the spiritual.  In addressing all of these layers, there is a higher likelihood of lasting recovery.

1. The Biological Layer: 

First, because of heron’s deep effect of the body, I really recommend that someone in treatment finds and sticks with a Suboxone-prescribing doctor.  Suboxone is a medicine that is comprised of both buprennorpine, an opiod, and naloxone, a opiod-blocker.  The idea is that buprenorphine stimulates opiod receptors enough such that the naloxone can “knock them down.”  Suboxone should be first administered when the patient is withdrawing and then tapered down over a period of time.  Methadone is another heroin substitute, but there’s no real way to taper from methadone (it is a safer alternative to heroin if administered within the confines of an official clinic).  Therefore, I strongly advise that Suboxone be used to address the physical component of heroin addiction.

2. The Psycho-emotional Layer

Second, I also recommend that a heroin treatment program contains some form of psycho-emotional counseling such as CBT, EMDR, or Seeking Safety.  The reason I recommend psycho-emotional support is that almost every single heroin addict I’ve encountered (and I’ve encountered a lot) has had a history of trauma and would certainly meet criteria for a formal PTSD diagnosis.  Learning to manage the shame and anxiety associated with PTSD is critical in order to heal wounds that the heroin covered.

3. The Spiritual Layer

Lastly in terms of my list, but not in terms of importance, is that all people in recovery, but especially heroin addicts, must find a spirituality that is based upon something sacred.  The way I attempt to develop this spirituality is through discussion and exploration of healthy values because in my opinion, healthy values will lead to the sacred within a given person’s life.  Heroin addiction reduces the entirety of a person to a single point of value: heroin and it’s imperative that healthy values emerge that can replace the heroin’s value.

Again, there’s no magic bullet that can heal everyone, but, I do recommend that all treatment programs address these three (3) layers in some form or fashion.  Heroin addiction is complex and isn’t a simple matter of not using heroin. Peace, light, and love to everyone.

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