What to Do When You Need to Find a Heroin Detox Center

At least a million Americans use heroin, and the problem is getting worse. Many opiate addicts have turned to heroin as stricter laws make prescription drugs harder to obtain. At the same time, the recent popularity of fentanyl additives (extremely potent synthetic opioids) has greatly increased the risks of using unregulated drugs. Between 2010 and 2016, fatal heroin overdoses climbed, steadily but rapidly, from under 5,000 a year to nearly 15,500.

If you or a loved one have the heroin addiction, the time to seek professional detox treatment is right away: every new dose risks your life and damages your overall health. And trying to detox privately will, at best, make you extremely ill for a week and leave other addiction-related issues undealt with. At worst, self-detox could kill you with a seizure, impaired breathing or impulsive suicide.

There are hundreds of heroin detox centers in the United States; some, however, are poorly managed or use approaches that don’t suit everybody. So it pays to put some effort into finding the right place for you, rather than registering at the first center that pops up in a Google search.

1. Don’t be daunted.

That mention of “effort” may scare you. The decision to enter heroin detox is frightening enough without facing up to extra work before you even get in. If you’ve not addicted yourself, but trying to convince a loved one to get treatment, use the following tips to have one or two heroin treatment centers ready to recommend when you broach the topic.

If you have to make the decision for yourself, confide in a family member or trusted friend, and ask them to hold you accountable. Have them assist you directly in researching heroin detox centers, or at least contact you daily to make sure you’re sticking with it. (If you feel you have no one to turn to, call the national substance abuse helpline and request a referral to a counselor or support group.) Consider also making a list of ways that heroin detox and staying clean will improve your life: keep this list handy to review several times a day.

Above all else, act promptly! Whatever the exact time investment involved in finding the right detox center, don’t let the momentum stop, or you risk talking yourself out of the whole thing.

2. Check your insurance.

Like most addictions, heroin dependence is classified as a “substance use disorder” and thus covered as a mental illness under many health insurance plans. If you have a job, you are entitled to the same medical-leave benefits as with a purely physical illness, and to any reasonable accommodations necessary for maintaining sobriety after detox (although, before or after detox, you can still be disciplined for irresponsible behavior related to the addiction). Review what your own insurance covers under “mental health” or “behavioral health,” and see what heroin treatment centers are on the approved-providers list.

If you don’t currently have your own health insurance, a national or state disability program may be able to assist you directly or refer you to a separate organization. (In California, the Department of Rehabilitation coordinates employment and independent-living services for people with disabilities.)

3. Do some initial online research.

If the consultation with your insurance company—or with whatever source of help you used in Step 1—doesn’t yield a list of detox centers, you may need to turn to an Internet search. Look under “best heroin detox centers [your area],” and when the results come up, look for a list of options published by an objective source.

Once you have your initial list, review each center’s website with the following questions in mind: Does their staff include people with formal medical credentials and experience? Are they affiliated with a larger hospital? Is there evidence of active community involvement beyond their detox work? Do they have a News, Blog or similarly titled page that includes well-researched articles on drug addiction, sober living and other relevant topics (written to provide real information, not just sell their services)—and is this page, and the rest of the website, professional-looking and regularly updated?

Don’t take the center’s own website’s word for everything, either. Check with other sources to verify the staff’s credentials are up to date, the site tells the truth about community involvement, and sources are accurately cited in the articles. Check also for any formal complaints filed against the center (online reviews aren’t as trustworthy, being a popular means of venting frustrations reasonable or otherwise).

4. Look closer.

Once you have a good option for a heroin detox center (or a choice between two or three), go back to their websites and look for a “programs” or “services” page. Consider how they describe their treatment approaches. What clicks best with your preferred therapy style, psychological/spiritual focus and follow-up approach? Can they accommodate special dietary or other medical needs? If the website has images of the grounds and facilities (it should), how well do they appeal to your taste? What about the center’s geographical location—will the climate agree with you, and will there be any issues with transportation there and back (possibly multiple times for outpatient or follow-up treatment)? Do you prefer the convenience of a close-to-home location, or would you be better off some distance away from all environments you associate with heroin use?

If at all feasible, make a personal visit to the detox center (many places require this anyway) before making your final decision. Phone or Skype interviews can work in some cases, but there’s no real substitute for directly experiencing the setting and interacting with the people.

5. GO!

With all this ground to cover in the preliminary stages, be careful not to fall into the research-plateau trap—forever gathering more and more information, but never taking final action. With heroin addiction, this isn’t only a waste of valuable time, it’s playing dangerous games with your health. Every day of delay can only mean another risky dose or the onset of withdrawal sickness.

No question, learning can quickly become a substitute for doing—after all, the theoretical stage can be pure fun, while actual detox promises major physical discomfort, plus long-term changes that may not come close to stopping at “your current life minus heroin.” So from the beginning, set yourself a firm time limit (no more than a week) for making the final decision or at least scheduling the first in-person interview. Then get someone to hold you to that decision (see the section on accountability in Step 1), and do whatever else you can do immediately (packing for the treatment-center stay, requesting medical leave, arranging for house- or pet-sitters) to nudge yourself past the point of “no return” to heroin use. You’ll be on your way to freedom once you take decisive action!

About Jammie Morey

Jammie is of Native American descent, she has family from the Ojibway/Chippewa tribe in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. She was born and raised in Michigan, where she later moved to Tennessee with her husband and daughter. Jammie and her husband home school their daughter, and enjoy doing many things together as a family. Some of those activities include geocaching, hiking, fishing, playing games together as a family, and just being silly with their daughter. Jammie is Owner of The Neat Things in Life. For more information visit on Google+.

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