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.

Symptomatic medications

Woman interested in detox with symptomatic medication

Symptomatic medications are used to treat the physical symptoms of heroin/opioid withdrawal when undergoing detoxification.

This is in contrast to agonist-assisted detox, where the aim is to prevent/minimise withdrawal rather than treating the symptoms. Symptomatic medications can also be given to help with agonist-assisted detox.

The most common symptomatic medication is lofexidine, which is often used in combination with benzodiazepines.

What to expect
None of these medications is an opioid; they can treat withdrawal symptoms and associated anxiety but they do not bind to the brain’s opioid receptors so you can still expect to feel some heroin/opioid cravings.

What’s next?
If you have used heroin/opioids for a long time, you might find that cravings persist. 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 space to make changes you feel you need in your life.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit Staying healthy