At Castle Craig rehab we treat people for addiction to heroin, morphine, methadone and a variety of prescription painkillers such as oxycontin, oxycodone and codeine. These are all opiates or opioids and the process of detoxing from them is similar.
Each patient will be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist. As part of this process a detailed history of recent and long-term drug use will be established. A detox management plan will then be discussed and agreed in collaboration with the patient.
What is Heroin Detox?
When someone becomes addicted to an opiate or opioid such as heroin, their brain adapts following continued exposure to the drug, and the user becomes physically dependent on the drug. Heroin dependent people build up a tolerance to the chemical and slowly increase the amount they use over time. If they stop using heroin, their body reacts, causing very unpleasant side effects.
For this reason if someone wants to stop taking heroin we recommend that they are detoxed slowly in a detox clinic, under medical supervision, using substitute medicines which help the brain and nervous system adapt to the withdrawal of the drug.
The Process of Heroin Detox
Withdrawal from heroin and other opiates or opioids is not dangerous but it can be uncomfortable. We aim to ensure that a patient’s detox is both rapid and comfortable.
Each patient undergoing detox is medically monitored on a regular basis throughout the day and withdrawal signs are recorded. At night time, patients undergoing detox sleep close to a nursing station so that they can continue to be monitored.
The duration of the detox will depend on how much the individual was taking and for how long, but typically a heroin detox might last from 7 to 10 days. Patients who are on a high dose of the opioid methadone, may take longer to detox fully. The length of detox may also be affected by any other drugs that the patient has been taking.
Opiate Addiction Treatment at Castle Craig
Effective addiction treatment involves much more than just detoxification. Throughout the period of detox, patients will become fully involved in activities such as group therapy, lectures, exercise, one-to-one therapy, specialised therapies and meal-times. The patient’s individualised treatment programme continues once their detox has been completed.
We strongly recommend that patients continue their treatment after they have finished opioid detox at our rehab centre. Stopping drug consumption can be relatively easy compared to staying clean, and maintaining recovery.
Detox from Opiates (Transcription)
Dr. Jonathan Chick, Medical Director:
The detoxification from opiate drugs, that’s heroin or methadone, or oxycodone, other types of opiate drugs, which are now widely used in medicine and have become abused by addicts. The cause of addiction in some people. There’s a method that we also use, either of greatly gradual reduction or of some substitute, but also there are methods… often, kind of emotional relaxation methods as well as some techniques using specific medications that can control some of the unpleasant effects of opiate withdrawal, such as the tummy pains, the shivers, the aches and flu-like symptoms which happen during opiate withdrawal.
Dr. Margaret McCann, CEO:
In the case of opiate detoxification… If this is methadone detoxification, then we will gradually reduce the methadone dose, normally by about five milligrams per day, and this will be supervised several times a day by the nurses and the doctors. And again, we want to make the process safe and comfortable for the individual. Nevertheless, there is an old saying: “No pain, no gain.” And so, inevitably, there will be some discomfort through withdrawal, but it is a small price to pay if you want to become abstinent.
There are various other medications which we can use to assist the person through the detoxification process. For example, if the person is withdrawing from methadone and they’re in the final stages of methadone withdrawal, we can add in some lofexidine. This is a medication which can help to alleviate some of the residual withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate detox.
If somebody if using heroin when they come into treatment, then we will obviously have to stop heroin. That can be substituted with a similar drug. We will substitute, usually, buprenorphine, which is Subutex; we may use methadone, or we may use lofexidine. So these are three medications that can be used in the detoxification from heroin abuse.