Heroin addiction: get help

If you're addicted to heroin and want to stop, you can ask a GP or local drug treatment service for help.

As someone with a drug addiction you're entitled to the same confidential NHS care as anyone else who has a health problem.

If you're not ready to stop, you can still get help with staying safe and healthy.

How to get treatment for heroin

Heroin is an opiate drug (also known as an opioid). Other opioids include codeine, opium and morphine.

If you need treatment for addiction to heroin or another opioid you can either see a GP or contact your local drug treatment service.

At your first appointment the doctor or drugs worker will ask you lots of questions including:

They'll also ask you for a pee sample. This will be tested to confirm that you're using heroin.

You'll be given a key worker who will help you put together a personalised treatment plan. You'll meet them regularly throughout your treatment.

Maintenance or detoxification (detox)?

Your key worker will help you decide between 2 different approaches to stopping heroin – maintenance therapy or detox:

Both treatments aim to help you withdraw from heroin gradually and ease withdrawal symptoms.

You'll usually live at home while you switch to maintenance therapy or go through detox.

Detoxing from heroin while living at home can take up to 12 weeks.

You can switch from maintenance therapy to detox at any time.

Your daily dose of methadone or buprenorphine will be supervised by a drugs worker or pharmacist for up to 3 months.

If you're also addicted to alcohol or other drugs, such as benzodiazapines, you'll be offered support with stopping these as well.

Overdose risk

Detox lowers your tolerance to heroin. This means your risk of overdosing is higher if you take heroin after detoxing.

Inpatient detox and rehab

You'll usually only be offered detox as a hospital inpatient or in residential rehab if:

Visit rehabonline for more information about rehab.

Other support for opiate addiction

Other types of help and support you may be offered while you come off heroin include:

What happens after detox?

After detox your key worker will carry on supporting you for up to 6 months to help you stay off heroin.

This support may include help with issues such as housing or getting back into work or education.