Common Medications Used To Combat Heroin Abuse

Common Medications Used To Combat Heroin Abuse

There are a number of medications for heroin abuse that are used to treat addicts. The three most popular medications for heroin abuse are buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone. It may seem strange and ironic to some that drugs are used to treat drug addiction, but heroin is a highly addictive substance that can be hard to break away from using standard approaches.


Naltrexone is only recommended after an addict ceases using heroin, typically after they’ve completed detoxification and entered a rehab facility. It is administered to long term heroin abusers, and operates by reducing cravings through blocking the influence of opioids. It can be taken at a clinic or at home, and as such is very convenient to use.


While naltrexone works to reduce cravings, buprenorphine is used to block the withdrawal symptoms that result when an addict stops using heroin. Buprenorphine is administered in the form of a tablet that is placed beneath the tongue. It typically takes from 2 to 10 minutes for the tablet to dissolve, and only a single dosage needs to be taken daily.

Buprenorphine is a very popular medication for heroin abuse because it kills the terrible withdrawal symptoms which make it easier for addicts to quit. The downside to buprenorphine is its high cost. Buprenorphine may also need to be taken for months or years and can have side effects such as insomnia, constipation, sweating and nausea.


Methadone has a number of similarities to heroin. However, when used under the guidance of a physician it can lower the withdrawal symptoms that are experienced when one attempts to break away from heroin addiction. The key difference between heroin and methadone is that methadone does not allow the user to get high. The downside to methadone is that it is highly regulated and one must visit a methadone clinic regularly to acquire dosages. Methadone is not compatible with alcohol and using the two simultaneously is extremely dangerous.

Methadone, as with buprenorphine, has a number of side effects that users should be aware of, which includes fluctuations in temperature, low appetite, constipation, head ache and stomach pain. Methadone should not be used standalone and should instead be part of a larger treatment program. Quitting heroin should be seen as only the beginning of a lifetime process to remain drug free.

Heroin relapse is common and can be fatal. Therefore, entering rehab and using naltrexone, buprenorphine and methadone is only one step, and must be combined with support that is ongoing to determine the reasons that you begin using heroin in the first place.

Once this is understood, you will be in a better position to cope with the daily stresses of life that could trigger your return to using heroin again. Put another way, while these medications can help you become clean the therapy you receive in rehab will ensure you stay that way over the long term. Combining these two approaches will place you in the best position to remain healthy and heroin free for a lifetime.