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Inpatient Heroin Rehab: How It Works

By  WebMD Connect to Care Staff
You may choose inpatient heroin treatment for many reasons, including medical and emotional support.

Inpatient heroin addiction treatment is an opportunity for you to start your recovery journey with the help of medical professionals. People choose inpatient treatment over outpatient treatment for different reasons, but all of the reasons circle back to one thing—support.

Why People Choose Inpatient Heroin Rehab

At an inpatient addiction treatment center, your team of medical experts will monitor your health, and provide counseling and valuable information about your addiction that you may not have known. Outside of your personal preference for an inpatient rehab program, research shows that it may be safer for you to begin your recovery in a facility rather than on your own.

Perhaps the most crucial component of treatment for your heroin addiction is the detox process. Heroin withdrawal has a dangerous nature, which can include symptoms like severe:

  • pain,
  • diarrhea,
  • nausea,
  • and vomiting.

Due to the extremely uncomfortable nature of heroin withdrawal, the inpatient treatment route may be more convenient for you than outpatient treatment considering the availability of around-the-clock support. 

How It Works

How long will I stay? Most inpatient heroin treatment programs are a minimum of 30 days long. Although many treatment centers keep their programs at 30 to 40 days, lengthier programs (60-90 days) do exist for those who need it. There are also sober living facilities that you can stay in post-rehab if you aren’t quite ready to return home to confront your triggers just yet.

Let's talk about detox.Inpatient treatment centers for patients who are addicted to heroin or other opioids begins with medical detoxification, in most cases. 

The use of medicines called opioid agonists have been shown to improve the likelihood of recovery as well as limit your chance of relapse. The medical detoxification process starts with a 24-hour monitoring period to ensure that your symptoms do not become life-threatening. Then, your detox can take anywhere from 3 to 10 days to complete.

“There is an abundance of evidence supporting the use of medications to taper patients more comfortably off of opioids,” Kelly Dunn, PhD, MBA, associate professor, Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Most people who develop problems with opioids continue to use them, despite negative life consequences, because they find the opioid withdrawal syndrome intolerable.”

For this reason, Dunn says, a detoxification in an inpatient facility that manages your withdrawal symptoms decreases the likelihood of you ending detoxification early and/or relapsing right away.  

What happens after detox?Following your 24-hour monitoring, a team of medical experts and drug counselors continue to guide your journey to recovery around the clock. Depending on the facility, you’ll attend group and individual therapy, learn strategies to overcome your triggers, and work on healing the areas of your life that were most heavily impacted by your addiction.

A lifelong journey.Your recovery journey from your heroin addiction does not end with inpatient treatment. When you leave, your treatment center may recommend an outpatient program or 12-step support group to help maintain your sobriety and receive ongoing support. 

Get Help Now

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.