Heroin Treatment – Behavioral Therapies

"The effective behavioral treatments available for heroin addiction are best delivered  in residential settings. Approaches such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and twelve step have been shown to effectively treat heroin addiction, especially when applied in groups" NIDA

“It transforms a tight, white fist into a gentle, brown wave… it fumigated my private hell and lay me down in its hazy pastures and a bathroom floor in Hackney embraced me like a womb."
-Russell Brand (My life without drugs, Guardian Newspaper)

A large proportion of the clients who come to us at Hope Rehab are seeking treatment for heroin addiction. If you, or somebody you care about, is suffering because of this type of substance abuse, we can help. We use an evidence-based approach to promote recovery from opiate abuse. We don’t claim to have any miracle cures, but the transformation many of our clients experience could easily be described as miraculous. 

"There is no Hero in Heroin by Simon Mott -- When I think about my own addiction, there's one moment that will always be etched on my mind. I was in my 30s and I had been using crack and heroin for almost 20 years. I had accidently overdosed yet again. This time, I woke up alone on the kitchen floor with the syringe still hanging out of my arm. I realised how close to death I had come and if that had been the dose to kill me, my mother would have probably been the one to find me. I imagined her seeing me dead on the floor of my sad, messed-up apartment that hadn't been cleaned for months. I knew that was something she would never be able to get over, and it filled me with fear and shame"

What is Heroin?

Heroin (diacetylmorphine) is a type of opiate analgesia that is created using morphine, which comes from the opium poppy. It has a number of medical uses, and it is an effective drug for helping people manage chronic pain. Heroin has also been used as a recreational drug for over a hundred years. There are believed to be around 9.5 million heroin users globally.

Heroin is known by many different street names, such as:

Smack - H - Junk - Brown sugar - Brown - Dragon - Tar - Skag​

“Addiction progresses toward an absence of emotional intelligence, receptivity, and self-compassion. It promulgates the delusion that we are alone in a unique engagement with emotional pain and alienation. It is a hole that has no bottom.”
- Lawrence Peltz (The Mindful Path to Addiction Recovery)

Hope Rehab Center can help you overcome heroin addiction

The way heroin is demonised in the media can lead to misunderstandings as to how people end up developing a habit. It isn’t that this drug causes people to become addicted right away that makes it so dangerous – it is the fact that it usually doesn’t. Most first-time users enjoy the pleasurable effects without developing a compulsion to use again, and this gives them the confidence to dabble in the drug as an ‘occasional user’. It is only when they wake up one morning ‘junk sick’ that they realise they have become hooked. 


The people who are at the highest risk of becoming addicted to heroin are those who have a need to escape some type of pain in their life. This discomfort may be due to emotional trauma, or it could be due to uncontrolled anxiety or the feeling of having ‘a hole in the soul’. Heroin can feel like the perfect medicine for this pain initially, and it can take a long time before the unacceptably high cost of this relief becomes obvious. 

Heroin addiction can be hard to escape, as quitting involves physical and psychological discomfort. Substance abuse also damages your self-esteem, and it can mean you feel powerless to change your life. 

Hope to Overcome Heroin Addiction

The goal of the programme at Hope Rehab is not just to get you to stop using heroin, because this only gets you back to square one. There has been a reason for why you desired the pain-relief properties of opiates, and this reason is still likely to be there when you stop. Even if you do manage to stay clean, your mental discomfort could push you towards new maladaptive behaviours such as alcoholism. 

Our treatment programme is designed to get to the root or your addiction problem. During therapy, you can begin to gain insights into the distorted thought patterns that have been holding you back in life. You can then use tools from CBT to help you regain control over your thinking. Our mindfulness programme provides a path towards the mental serenity you were
yearning for when you began abusing heroin. You will also learn how to use the 12 steps to build a better life free from addiction. 

“At the bottom of every person's dependency, there is always pain, discovering the pain and healing it is an essential step in ending dependency.”
- Chris Prentiss (The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure)

Neuroscience of Heroin Addiction

Opioid drugs like Heroin trigger a class of neurotransmitters, the brain's natural opioid-like neurotransmitters, endorphin and encephalin, leading to euphoria and a desire to repeat the experience.

This increases analgesia and decreased alertness, slowing respiration. Prolonged opiate use may cause the brain to change and come to depend on the presence of the drug just to function. Then the opposite of pleasure–anxiety, irritability, and low mood happen in the absence. Immediate negative symptoms start, which are called withdrawal.

Hijacked brain: the human reward system is designed for survival, but hijacked by the chemical payoffs provided by Heroin. The reward circuitry normally bookmarks important things: food, nurturing children, education, work and friendships. However, now it has been corrupted by Heroin.

Understanding dopamine

People with addictions are low on dopamine, causing addiction, depression, loss of satisfaction, poor focus and other symptoms. Low dopamine levels cause us to consciously and unconsciously seek out dopamine raising substances or behaviours. All substances stimulate dopamine release or increase its activity and produce the hedonic response“I like that”.

Impulse Control: STOP >> GO systems in the brain

The dopamine pleasure pathway is the Go system, and the prefrontal cortex is the Stop system. When we anticipate and experience something good like food or sex, alcohol or drugs, our brain experiences a surge in the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Hope Rehab Center teaches you mindfulness techniques to aid in your recovery
Hope Rehab promotes good health and exercise as part of its heroin addiction treatment

Heroin treatment at Hope Rehab Treatment Center Thailand

Detox: We use Saboxone or methadone to reduce you of opiates, and sleep medication to help restore a sleep pattern. 

Counseling and Therapy: You will build a healthy relationship with your counsellor and explore your life history - unearthing reasons why you use or why you can't stop using. 

Group work: Here we share our painful experiences and help each other find solutions.  

CBT: Cognitive behaviour therapy - short term therapy with long term results - helps with positive thinking. 

Addiction program: We use the evidence-based programme to unravel and look at your addictive behaviours. 

Mindfulness: sessions and practice helps calm your thinking and relax the mind. 

Fitness and exercise program: We get up early and go for 40 minutes exercise to help restore health and ingrain a healthy behaviour pattern. I say "get up before your addiction wakes up".

Assignments: Hope workbook is 100 pages long - full of exercises to complete in group, with your counsellor and as homework in the evenings. 

Treatment tasks: In the weekly goals group you are set new goals and paradoxical behaviours to complete and help you change life-long habits. 

Activities: Weekend activities include many new sober fun things to do - this gives you a chance to practise having clean and sober fun.

Relapse Prevention: These classes raise your awareness and teach you to manage triggers and cravings.

Aftercare:  We begin your aftercare plan before you leave Rehab. 


Heroin treatment – NIDA


Twelve-step facilitation therapy is an active engagement strategy designed to increase the likelihood of a substance abuser becoming affiliated with and actively involved in 12-step self-help groups, thereby promoting abstinence. Three key ideas predominate: (1) acceptance, which includes the realization that drug addiction is a chronic, progressive disease over which one has no control, that life has become unmanageable because of drugs, that willpower alone is insufficient to overcome the problem, and that abstinence is the only alternative; (2) surrender, which involves giving oneself over to a higher power, accepting the fellowship and support structure of other recovering addicted individuals, and following the recovery activities laid out by the 12-step program; and (3) active involvement in 12-step meetings and related activities. While the efficacy of 12-step programs (and 12-step facilitation) in treating alcohol dependence has been established, the research on its usefulness for other forms of substance abuse is more preliminary, but the treatment appears promising for helping drug abusers sustain recovery. NIDA