A Guide to Heroin Rehab programmes
and Treatment Options in Thailand

Heroin is a highly addictive and dangerous drug that can be very difficult to quit, due to its intense physical and psychological impacts. The road to recovery, although challenging, is within your reach. By combining clinically approved treatment methods such as residential care, withdrawal treatment, opioid medications, family counselling, and behavioural therapy, heroin rehab in Thailand lets you rediscover the path to a healthy and normal life.
Heroin is made from morphine, which in turn is derived from opium poppies. In a hospital setting, morphine is frequently given to patients as a painkiller. Heroin is three times stronger than morphine, and has been adopted as a recreational drug due to the feelings of euphoria it delivers for users. Yet this effect comes at a high cost. The US National Institute on Drug Abuse summarises the problem succinctly:

Repeated heroin use changes the physical structure and physiology of the brain, creating long-term imbalances in neuronal and hormonal systems that are not easily reversed.

NIDA also estimates that almost 23% of one-time heroin users end up developing a full-blown addiction. In addition to its serious negative effects on the body, heroin use also often causes a breakdown in personal relationships and loss of employment, due to the overwhelming urge to get a fix at all costs.

Heroin abuse and dependence

While each person reacts differently to drugs such as heroin, the pattern typically begins with a motivation to either reduce pain or experience a euphoric effect. Yet soon after you begin using, your body starts to become more familiar with the drug, raising your personal threshold. This process indicates that you are starting to develop a level of tolerance to the drug.
Tolerance means that your body requires more of the drug to adequately experience its effects, which then leads to a tendency to take larger doses with higher frequency. The situation becomes even more dangerous as the body builds greater tolerance – possibly leading to overdose if you administer heroin without proper controls. This increased exposure to heroin opens the door to the next step, which is dependency.
As your body becomes accustomed to heroin, it begins to expect the drug and even depends on its presence, ceasing to function properly in its absence. Once this dependency has taken hold, you will quickly feel intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop using the drug. Between the cravings on one side and the increasing likelihood of overdose on the other, you may soon find yourself feeling trapped between two impossible choices: An irresistible addiction on one hand, and extreme danger on the other, with the walls closing in on both sides.
The realities of heroin tolerance and dependence are purely physiological, leading to many users continuing to use the drug even after they recognise the negative consequences of such behaviour. At this point, it is evident that they suffer from heroin addiction – and need professional rehab for heroin to break the cycle of drug abuse.

mental health and heroin abuse

When it comes to the link between addiction and mental illness, the science is clear. Heroin users are at an increased risk of developing mental health problems. Similarly, those who are suffering from mental health conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, or bi-polar disorder, may be tempted to use a drug like heroin to self-medicate as a way of gaining short-term relief from their pain.
If you suffer from heroin addiction as well as one or more underlying mental health issues, it is essential to select a heroin rehab clinic that is equipped to address both conditions simultaneously. As addiction and mental disorders frequently go hand in hand, your long-term recovery may depend on treating both of these challenges together.
In addition to treating heroin addiction, effective heroin rehab can also facilitate multiple psychiatric disorders and addictions that often co-occur with heroin abuse, such as:

Signs of heroin abuse

A range of drug paraphernalia may offer the clearest sign of heroin abuse. Be on the lookout for:
  • Burnt bottle caps or silver spoons for cooking drugs
  • Burnt aluminum foils, rolling papers or gum wrappers for smoking
  • Rubber tubing or shoelaces for tying off an arm
  • Needles or syringes for injection
  • Cotton balls for straining impurities
  • A straw or rolled bill with traces of white powder for snorting
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When should you seek help from a heroin rehab clinic?

Based on the DSM-5, which is a clinical manual that covers 11 criteria for substance use disorders and its severity grade. People with 2-3 symptoms are considered to have a mild substance use disorder, whereas 4-5 symptoms are considered to have a moderate substance use disorder. Heroin abuse may turn into an addiction (severe substance use disorder) if you find yourself experiencing at least 6 of the following:
  • You are willing to go to great lengths in order to obtain the drug, including lying about your whereabouts, or stealing objects or money
  • You are unable to stop using heroin no matter how hard you try
  • Your behaviour is changing in ways that include withdrawal from loved ones, lack of interest in hobbies, and/or poor personal hygiene
  • You are failing to manage several areas of your life, including work, home, school, or finance because of your heroin use
  • You are building up a tolerance for heroin, requiring greater doses in order to experience the same effects
  • You are spending a lot of time obsessing about, obtaining, and recovering from the effects of heroin
  • You are increasing the frequency and quantity of heroin use than initially intended
  • You are having intense cravings for heroin and needing to use to get through the day
  • You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, shakiness, restlessness etc.
  • You continue to use heroin despite negative impacts on your personal relationships
  • Your heroin addiction is having a negative impact on your physical and/or psychological well-being
The presence of 4 or more of the above symptoms suggests that an individual may be at risk for withdrawal effects and would benefit from heroin rehab.

What is heroin rehab?

Rehabilitation (or rehab for short) describes a drug and/or alcohol recovery programme. Outpatient care is a viable option, but the term is more often associated with therapy in an inpatient setting. Heroin rehab is usually based on abstinence, and aims to provide an intensive rehabilitation care which is targeted at people who have difficulty living drug-free lives in the community.
Heroin addiction treatment generally begins with an initial period of detoxification within a safe, medically supervised environment where withdrawal symptoms can be eased and managed by a team of drug addiction experts. From there, a combination of individual and group CBT sessions provides various relapse prevention strategies as well as coping skills. For many people, such evidence-based interventions motivate positive behavioural and psychological changes, and provide recovery-oriented support for long-term recovery.

How long is inpatient heroin rehab?

Heroin addiction requires at least a 30-day rehab programme. If you are dealing with multiple addictions, co-occurring mental health issues or untreated PTSD, it is important that you stay in residential rehab for longer – most likely a 60-day or 90-day programme – so you can properly address these additional factors that have caused or been contributing to your drug use. Research shows that, for both outpatient and inpatient programmes, positive outcomes are contingent on receiving treatment for an adequate length of time.

How successful is rehab for heroin?

Professional rehab programmes provide a far better chance at recovery than going it alone, although no outcome is guaranteed. Successful treatment outcomes depend on a number of factors, such as the rehab facility, the length of stay, your physical and mental condition as you begin treatment, as well as your motivation to change. It is important to take each of these factors into account, and choose the treatment programme that works best for your situation.

How much does heroin rehab cost?

Private heroin rehab centres in countries like Australia, the USA and the UK can cost as much as much as $100,000 for a 30-day programme. Generally, the cost for heroin treatment ranges from:
  • Detox: $4,000 – $7,000 for 7 days
  • Intensive outpatient programmes: $3,000 – $7,000 for 7 days
  • Standard inpatient rehab: $8,000 – $30,000 for 30 days
  • Luxury inpatient rehab: $40,000 – $100,000 for 30 days
  • Inpatient heroin rehab in Thailand: $8,000 – $16,000 for 30 days

Types of rehab for heroin addicts

Rehab options for heroin generally fall into outpatient or inpatient programmes, depending on the particular circumstances faced by each heroin user. The intensity and scale of treatment may also vary depending on need; however, all else being equal, lengthier and more intensive treatment schedules are better at producing long-lasting sobriety. Both inpatient and outpatient care can lead to positive outcomes, as long as high-quality treatment is provided on a consistent and comprehensive basis.

Outpatient heroin rehab

Outpatient treatment may be appropriate for heroin users with a strong social support network, pre-existing social, familial, or work-related responsibilities, a relatively mild heroin addiction, and no dual diagnosis. By requiring a smaller time commitment, outpatient counselling offers greater convenience to those undergoing treatment – although it puts the onus on the client to manage their self-discipline outside counselling hours.

Precise scheduling depends on the availability of both the person and the specific centre, but many outpatient clients choose to take this form of treatment after office hours. Prices are generally much cheaper than inpatient treatment, since there are no additional services (such as room, board, holistic activities, and 24-hour supervision) provided at typical outpatient rehab centres.

Inpatient heroin rehab

For more serious cases of addiction or dual diagnosis, or where a social support system is lacking and there is no compelling reason to seek the limited services of outpatient rehab, inpatient rehab for heroin is strongly advised. Inpatient heroin rehab centres provide far more attentive and comprehensive care – usually combining a set of evidence-based treatment approaches into one customised programme.

Individual therapy sessions, as well as group activities, are normally included, with the client residing at the self-contained and purpose-built facility. Typical inpatient programmes last from 30 days at the very least, up to three months or longer depending on the rate of progress through the recovery effort. The cost of inpatient treatment is substantially more than that of outpatient care, although inpatient treatment leads to a greater likelihood of avoiding relapse.

What to expect in a heroin rehab centre

When you join a heroin addiction rehab programme, the centre will begin by asking a series of questions about your relationship to the drug. This initial consultation is critical, as it allows the centre to create a comprehensive treatment plan based on the details of your addiction. Preliminary assessment questions will include:

Most heroin rehabs require you to be drug-free before entering treatment – so if you’re a heavy user, you may have to first complete detox in a controlled environment. Not all rehabs offer this service, so you need to check with your rehab of choice.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms tend to be severe, which is why constant supervision and access to medical assistance are essential. Withdrawal can start between 6-24 hours after your last heroin dose, and get even worse on days 2-4. Symptoms may include cravings, diarrhoea, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and anxiety.

Heroin rehab programmes will allow you to switch to a heroin substitute, known as replacement therapy, to assist your body and mind through this difficult stage of the process. You will then gradually be eased off the substitute drug, and in most cases be entirely drug-free within 30 days. The aim is to eradicate all drugs from your body while managing your withdrawal symptoms. If you are also addicted to alcohol or other drugs, such as benzodiazepines, you’ll be offered support with stopping these as well.

The most common prescription drugs used in replacement therapy for heroin addiction are methadone, naltrexone and suboxone. According to NIDA, the use of opioid prescription drugs during heroin withdrawal treatment increases your chance of staying clean and completing a rehab programme. Medications like methadone and suboxone are effective in treating heroin addiction because they trigger the same opioid receptors in your brain as heroin, but they are safer for your body and less likely to cause you to behave in harmful ways.

When you have stopped experiencing withdrawal symptoms, you will be ready to begin the next phase of your heroin addiction rehab. This part of the recovery process involves a combination of evidence-based approaches to overcoming addiction.

Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy help you understand the root causes of your heroin addiction – as well as what your triggers are, and how to deal with them effectively. Treatment can be provided through group therapy, one-on-one counselling sessions, or family counselling. In each session, you will learn to regain your self-control, and practise keeping your mind focussed on positive goals. These and other valuable lessons will make up the core elements of your heroin addiction rehab programme.

Some heroin rehab centres offer dual diagnosis treatment, which is designed to address the challenges of addiction while also treating any associated mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. This dual-pronged approach can dramatically increase your chances for lasting recovery, if you suffer from this type of co-occurring disorder. It is important to note, however, that not all heroin addiction rehabs specialise in treating mental health in conjunction with standard care.

Many inpatient treatment centres provide an assortment of alternative therapies to support and supplement the core psychological programme. In most cases, these additional activities represent a kind of holistic care aimed at helping you develop a healthier approach to your daily routine, while also making your time at the centre memorable. Some of the more common alternative forms of therapy include recreational outings, mental and physical wellness activities, as well as sports and group games to guide you toward your personal health goals.

These individual and group activities can help you rebuild your physical conditioning, and get your body accustomed to a healthy day-to-day routine. This focus on keeping your mind, body, and spirit in balance is more common at luxury rehab centres, adding a welcome dimension of fun and variety to the rehab experience.

Mature man taking a break and relax in a meadow in the wonderful warm light of the sunset

Staying clean after heroin addiction rehab

Once you’ve completed primary care, the first couple of weeks after your treatment period are crucial to maintaining a recovery that stands the test of time. Although you may at first feel that you no longer crave heroin, further treatment and support can provide a much-needed safety net. Support groups, outpatient counselling, and sober living programmes can help you stay clean and avoid temptation as you begin re-integrating with day-to-day life on the outside.
If you receive professional residential treatment, your heroin rehab centre should provide you with its own preferred aftercare programme. In most cases, this programme is intended to monitor your progress and provide you with extra advice and support.
Between customised aftercare programmes designed by your rehab centre, and additional support options that you can seek out on your own, you will find a range of post-rehab treatments to choose from. The danger of relapse is very real, so if you feel that you still have difficulties in overcoming your drug related problems, it may be wise to make the most of every opportunity to seek additional help.

Many cities have support groups for heroin users, and these are usually a good starting point when seeking post-rehab care. In these sessions, current and past heroin users can get together and discuss their journey. These peer groups can provide much-needed love, understanding, and encouragement. Members share their experiences regarding their own recovery, while providing input for other members of the group as they face their own challenges. Since these sessions are based on group support and camaraderie, a team effort is emphasised and encouraged.

As effective as support groups can be for many people, other resources are also available. Outpatient counselling is another way to stay clean after rehab, allowing you to discuss with a professional any difficulties you may be experiencing as you try to stay clean. As these outpatient counselling sessions are mainly one-to-one and confidential, many recovering addicts find them to be a more comfortable setting to talk in a straightforward manner about any issues they might have.

Another way to stay clean after receiving treatment in a heroin rehab centre is to join a sober living programme. This arrangement can be considered a type of less-intensive inpatient treatment facility, as it represents only a partial transition back to life in the outside world. Residents in a sober living facility can use the experience to solidify the skills they had learned from rehab, within a lightly controlled and monitored setting.

Sober living houses are an excellent option if you feel that you lack full self-control, and need a little more time to navigate the path towards complete sobriety. Sober living environments have specific rules such as curfews, as well as required group meetings, while also allowing you to come and go as you like. The effect of this transition home is to give you the feeling that you are stepping back into your daily life and society – rather like putting training wheels on a bicycle.

Apartment of the luxury hotel, Pattaya, Thailand

Private heroin addiction rehab in Thailand

Many people suffering from addiction are choosing to undergo rehab in Thailand, as a way of maintaining very high-quality care while saving on cost. Thailand allows access to state-of-the-art medical facilities, highly experienced drug addiction specialists, and five-star accommodation – all in a tranquil tropical setting, and for a fraction of the cost of similar treatment in most Western countries.
Benefits of heroin rehab programmes in Thailand
  • Luxury private accommodation in a beautiful setting, with access to spa treatments and fitness facilities
  • Medical and psychological experts, many of whom are native English speakers
  • Complete removal from your former life and the temptations that it holds
  • A relaxing holiday setting with access to resort-style accommodation – perfect for recovery
  • A wide range of holistic therapies such as mindfulness meditation, yoga and massage
  • Secular 12-step treatment that has been adapted to suit international clients from around the world
  • Opportunities to go on adventure trips and cultural excursions you’d never experience at home
  • Quality treatment that meets international standards

Undergoing rehab for heroin is not easy, but our knowledge and experience can put you on the path to success and sobriety. If you want unbiased advice to help you beat heroin addiction, give us a call.

Author
Cameron Brown
Psychologist
  1. NIDA. “Heroin.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 8 Jun. 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin. Accessed 3 Feb. 2020.
  2. NIDA. “Heroin.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 21 Nov. 2019, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin. Accessed 3 Feb. 2020.
  3. “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5).” American Psychiatric Association, www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm.
  4. NIDA. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 17 Jan. 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition. Accessed 3 Feb. 2020.

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