The Timeline of Rehabilitation and Recovery for Heroin Addiction
People struggling with heroin addiction, and their loved ones, have many questions about recovery. One of the first questions is likely to be, “How long should a heroin addict stay in rehab?”
The answer to this question is different for every case, as no two people experience heroin addiction the same way. For some, detox and rehab are fulfilling and effective, and cravings taper off fairly quickly after treatment. For others, prolonged heroin withdrawal is a harsh reality.
The first step in figuring out how long rehab will last is to understand the heroin withdrawal timeline and what to expect from a substance abuse treatment program for heroin.
How Long Is Heroin Rehab and What’s Involved?
Most heroin rehab programs operate on a 90-day cycle. The first 30 days should focus on detoxification and handling the most severe withdrawal symptoms with nutrition, patient monitoring and perhaps medication.
Withdrawal sets in as soon as a heroin user’s last dose fades. Before detox, the symptoms of withdrawal cause a person struggling with heroin addiction to focus on nothing but securing another dose.
Attempting to go “cold turkey” and manage one’s own cravings without medical supervision is incredibly dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms from heroin addiction can be life-threatening in some cases, and attempting to recover without professional support rarely, if ever, works.
Medically Assisted Detox
During medically assisted detox at a heroin detox facility, the patient may receive increasingly smaller doses of opioid medication, if the detox team even prescribes medication in the first place. Other medications and nutritional support help the patient handle the withdrawal more easily and with less severe withdrawal symptoms.
Medical assistance is crucial for patient safety and to increase the effectiveness of the patient’s overall treatment plan. Once the patient completes detox, the withdrawal period begins.
Acute and Post-Acute Withdrawal
The heroin withdrawal timeline essentially has three phases:
- Acute withdrawal
- Sub-acute or post-acute withdrawal
The first two phases are the most difficult and typically happen during rehab. The third phase is long term, and the symptoms of sub-acute heroin withdrawal can last for months or longer.
Acute heroin withdrawal will set in once a patient has fully removed the heroin from his or her system, and symptoms range in severity from case to case. Some of the most common symptoms of this phase of withdrawal include:
- Intense cravings
- Mood swings
- Muscle spasms
The detox and acute withdrawal stages take place during rehab. It’s very common for patients in these phases to wonder, “How long does it take for heroin cravings to go away?” Unfortunately, there is no one answer.
Withdrawal affects everyone differently, and once the detox and acute phases pass, the post-acute withdrawal stage can last months or years after completing treatment. Over time, the cravings don’t simply disappear: They happen less frequently and are easier to handle as time goes on.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Many people who complete detox will much later experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This condition can last months or even years and presents the biggest risk of relapse to individuals who have completed a course of treatment at a substance abuse treatment facility.
Studies indicate that about 90 percent of recovering opioid users experience PAWS to some degree, and some of the most commonly reported symptoms include:
- Intrusive thoughts
- Lack of motivation
- Cognitive impairment
- Extreme cravings
It’s essential for individuals in substance abuse treatment to find a rehab facility that offers specific therapies and instruction for handling the symptoms of PAWS.
Elevate Addiction Services’ Heroin Treatment
Elevate Addiction Services recommends a full 90-day heroin program followed by a comprehensive aftercare program. This approach helps patients handle the extreme symptoms of acute withdrawal while preparing them for life beyond the walls of the rehab center.
A carefully tailored, individualized inpatient treatment program offers the best chance of success, and aftercare programs can last one to two years or longer.
A Continuum of Care
How long is heroin rehab? The answer depends on you. Detox and treatment may only take a few months, but rehabilitation also includes living a normal, sober life after inpatient treatment. This is the most challenging aspect of recovery for most patients struggling with heroin addiction.
Returning to a normal life can seem foreign and unattainable, but it’s possible with the continuum of care you’ll find at Elevate Addiction Services. We provide every client with holistic drug and alcohol rehab services in a unique environment.
Every patient receives a carefully crafted individual treatment plan that seeks to uncover the roots of a person’s opioid addiction. This kind of personal attention empowers people in recovery to manage cravings and process the symptoms of acute withdrawal and PAWS more easily.
Speak to a Specialist Now
If you are wondering how long rehab takes, reach out to one of Elevate’s recovery specialists today for more information about our programs and how they works. Rehab takes time, and the experience will vary for everyone. Our admissions counselors can estimate the length of treatment and what to expect when beginning one of our programs.