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How is Heroin Addiction Treated?
Heroin addiction is very difficult to beat, and relapses are very common. Treatment approaches can include both medication-based treatments and behavioral therapies. These approaches are often used in combination, and treatment programs are most effective when tailored to best suit the individual patient.
- Buprenorphine and methadone. These drugs bind to the body’s opioid receptors the same way that heroin does. The medications, however, have a lesser effect than heroin, and they can be used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings for heroin.
- Naltrexone. This medication blocks opioid receptors and stops heroin from having an effect on the user. Naltrexone is often used in combination with buprenorphine.
- Lofexidine and clonidine. These medications are used to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
- Contingency Management Therapy (CM). This type of therapy, also called motivational therapy, rewards patients for successfully abstaining from drug use. The rewards, monetary or otherwise, are given to patients when they successfully reach milestones of abstinence.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of psychotherapy helps drug users to recognize the triggers that prompt their drug use. The therapy also focuses on developing strategies and techniques for dealing with those triggers when they occur. CBT can be effective at preventing relapses once the patient has begun to abstain from drug use.
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