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Heroin Treatment Options: Detox

“Introduction to Heroin Abuse and Addiction” homepage? Click here


Detoxification programs aim to achieve safe and humane withdrawal from opiate addiction by minimizing the severity of withdrawal symptoms and other medical complications. The primary objective of detoxification is to relieve withdrawal symptoms while patients adjust to a drug-free state. Detoxification is a useful step only when it leads into long-term treatment that is either drug-free (residential or outpatient) or uses medications as part of the treatment, it is not treatment per se. The best documented drug-free treatments are the therapeutic community residential programs lasting 3 to 6 months.

Opiate withdrawal is rarely fatal. It is characterized by acute withdrawal symptoms which peak 48 to 72 hours after the last opiate dose and disappear within 7 to 10 days, to be followed by a longer term abstinence syndrome of general malaise and opioid craving.


A New Medication for Treating Opiate Addiction

  • First medication developed to treat opiate addiction in the privacy of a physician’s office.
  • Binds to same receptors as morphine, but does not produce the same effects.
  • Offers a valuable tool for physicians in treating the nearly 900,000 chronic heroin users in the U.S.
  • As of March 2004, 3,951 U.S. physicians were eligible to prescribe buprenorphine to patients.

The Story of Discovery

  • First synthesized as an analgesic in England, 1969.
  • Recognized as a potential opiate addiction treatment by NIDA researchers in the 1970s.
  • NIDA created Medications Development Division to focus on developing drug treatment for addiction, 1990.
  • NIDA formed an agreement with the original developer to bring buprenorphine to market in the U.S., 1994.
  • Buprenorphine tablets approved by the FDA, 2002.

Click to view the next part in the series, “Heroin Treatment Options: Methadone.” Click here to return to the first part in the series, “Introduction to Heroin Abuse and Addiction.”

The above information is from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Research Report Series – “Heroin Abuse and Addiction”. The report is also available at NIDA’s website at

Pat Moore Foundation’s drug & alcohol detox and alcohol & drug addiction treatment programs are licensed and certified by The State of California. We provide non-medical and medically managed detoxification (using Suboxone, Subutex, and Buprenorphine when appropriate) and primary residential treatment. Our individual homes are on a unique co-ed campus where we offer gender specific treatment. We are located in Costa Mesa, in Orange County, Southern California, close to Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, and only an hour’s drive from Los Angeles and San Diego. To speak with a counselor, please call us 24-hours at (888) 426-6086 or if you’d like us to contact you, send a confidential message online by filling out our online form.

Note: All medical services are administered by medical professionals, which are facilitated and operated solely under the jurisdiction of a separate medical corporation.