Motivational interviewing

Motivational interviewing is a form of counselling that helps you motivate yourself to improve your life by making goals, plans and changes to your behaviour. Since 2005, a programme, KISS (“Self-determined reduction of substance use” – [Kompetenz im Selbstbestimmten Substanzkonsum]), has been using these techniques in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. In KISS, trained addiction professionals aim to empower drug users struggling to abstain completely to reduce their legal or illegal drug use. During 12 weekly individual or group sessions, items like keeping a consumption diary, weekly goal setting and identifying and coping with high risk situations are covered. KISS has been shown to help drug-dependent people successfully cut down their drug use and make improvements to their lives. Similar programmes may exist in your area. If you are interested in this type of support, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on identifying your drug-using triggers and helping you to learn how to avoid them. It also teaches you coping and problem-solving skills to help you stop using drugs. CBT has been shown to help people control their drug use or even become abstinent. If you are interested in participating in CBT, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Agonist-assisted detox

By temporarily replacing your normal drug with a pharmaceutical-grade opioid, you should gradually be able to reduce your dose until you are no longer taking opioids at all.

In this way, withdrawal and cravings are suppressed by your body having some time to adapt to decreasing levels of opioids. Unlike symptomatic medications, which address withdrawal symptoms as they arise, agonist-assisted detox aims to minimise them before they happen.

Both methadone and buprenorphine are used in agonist-assisted detox. Buprenorphine detoxification can be completed in 1 or 2 weeks, whereas methadone detoxification can take longer depending on the starting dose and the rate of reduction.

What to expect
If you have been using heroin or other non-prescribed opioids, you will first be switched to buprenorphine or methadone before beginning your dose reduction. The longer you take to reduce your dose, the more time your body has to adapt to functioning without opioids. However, if you have been using heroin/opioids for a long time, then the long-term changes to your brain can also take a long time to reverse, and you can still expect to experience withdrawal discomfort or cravings for some time after completing the detox. If withdrawal symptoms are severe or you decide that you are not ready to attempt abstinence, you can easily reverse the process and move towards maintenance therapy. If this happens, don’t take it as a failure. It may be your body’s way of telling you it is not ready to work properly without opioids, and if it means you get what you need, then this may be the best outcome for you at this point in your journey towards recovery.

What’s next?
All kinds of things can trigger cravings even years after your last use of heroin/opioids. If you feel you need medication to stay abstinent, you can consider using naltrexone, a medication that blocks the effects of opioid use to prevent relapse, or maintenance therapy to eliminate cravings and give you the time to make changes you feel you need in your life.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit Staying healthy