Why Heroin Rehab Is a Three-Stage Process

We have a problem in the way we deal with heroin addiction. The problem is clearly seen in the many heroin addicts who spend years taking methadone as a substitute, prescribed by doctors instead of making sure addicts go through a comprehensive three-step rehab process. The simple fact of the matter is that heroin rehab requires more than a simple prescription and one or two counselling sessions. It calls for an intense treatment process that gets to the very root of addiction.

Comprehensive and effective heroin rehab consists of three stages:

  • Stage 1: Detox – Before the heroin addict can ever hope to be free from his or her drug, he/she must first undergo full and complete detox. If this is not done, the person will continue taking drugs for the foreseeable future. And as long as drugs are used, rehab is impossible.
  • Stage 2: Psychotherapeutic Treatments – Detox only addresses physical addiction. Yet there are mental and emotional issues that have to be dealt with as well. This is the purpose of psychotherapeutic treatments. Heroin users who go through detox but never progress to psychotherapy are much more likely to relapse within one year of treatment.
  • Stage 3: Aftercare – This final stage begins as soon as psychotherapy is complete. Aftercare is a compendium of ongoing services offered for 3 to 12 months as a means of helping recovering addicts prevent relapse. Former addicts who utilise aftercare are much more likely to get beyond the first year without relapse.

Full recovery from a heroin addiction is nearly impossible without undergoing all three stages of recovery. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule. But by and large, any treatment that does not utilise all three stages tends to be ineffective for hard-core addicts.

Heroin Rehab and Physical Intervention

Now that you know the three stages of effective heroin rehab, you need to know why each stage is necessary. We will begin with detox. Keep in mind that detox is a treatment designed to separate the heroin user from his or her drug in order to give the body an opportunity to cleanse itself. Why is this necessary? Because the addict’s body has become dependent on heroin.

Heroin affects multiple organs and physiological systems, beginning with the brain. The more often the drug is used, the more profound its effects on the brain.

The brain controls all of the other systems in the body, so those systems will not work properly if the brain is not functioning properly. The only way to restore brain function in a heroin addict is to cut off the supply of heroin. This is why physical intervention via detox is necessary.

Detox cuts off the supply, plain and simple. It allows the brain and the rest of the body to once again take control. An addict can never truly overcome his or her heroin addiction if he/she does not undergo detox.

Heroin Rehab and Psychological Intervention

Since heroin affects how the brain functions, it also indirectly affects thought patterns and emotions. The effects can be so profound that a heroin addict is no longer capable of thinking clearly. His or her sense of perception is altered; his/her ability to make sound choices falters; he/she is under the delusion that heroin is the only thing making it possible for him/her to continue living.

Unfortunately, the mind does not respond to detox the way the body does. Psychological intervention by way of psychotherapeutic treatments are necessary to get the mind and emotions back on track. Therapists use a variety of means – including counselling – to retrain the mind to start thinking normally again. The treatments also help recovering addicts understand what causes them to engage in addictive behaviour, thereby allowing them to develop strategies to avoid that behaviour in the future.

Without the psychological intervention of psychotherapeutic treatment, the recovering heroin addict will likely continue living in a state of mental and emotional delusion. The chances of relapsing while in this state are extremely high.

Heroin Rehab and Aftercare Follow-Up

An average residential rehab programme takes between three and 12 weeks for heroin recovery. By the time the recovering addict emerges, he or she is well on the way to a productive and drug-free life. But leaving the rehab clinic means reintegrating back into society. And with that reintegration may come new temptations to start using again.

The point of aftercare is to follow up with recovering addicts for the purposes of dealing with those temptations. Aftercare services include things such as support group participation, one-on-one counselling, organised support events, and routine medical exams. If at any point a recovering addict feels as if he or she is losing control, intervention is available to prevent relapse.

Why is aftercare so necessary to complete rehab? Because recovering addicts are often exposed to the same kinds of choices that invited their addiction to begin with. Without help to cope with those choices, the risk of relapse is very high. Addiction recovery workers don’t want that. They want to give former addicts every opportunity to succeed at a drug-free life. Aftercare and follow-up are part of that.

Your Future Is Important

You now know why comprehensive heroin rehab is a three-stage process. If you have a heroin habit, are you ready and willing to go through that process? We hope so. We know from personal experience how devastating a heroin addiction can be on users and their families. But we also know that recovery is very possible.

Listen, your future is important. You have the opportunity to positively impact all those around you if you are willing to take your life back from heroin. You have so much to offer your family, your friends, and even your community. Don’t flush your future down the drain by continuing to take heroin. Instead, contact us for help.

We are a confidential referral agency offering free assessments, advice, and referrals to treatment. Contacting us on our 24-hour helpline will instantly connect you with a counsellor ready to help you access the treatment you need.

close help
Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 0324