Cirque Lodge’s inpatient treatment plan incorporates the best medical strategies to make this initial transition towards sobriety safe and comfortable.
For patients that require it, this involves the prescription of medications that ease physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Below is an overview of the main medications we may prescribe:
Heroin’s status as a short-acting opioid means that the initial effects start within a minute. The subsequent high only lasts a few hours before the user will begin to feel withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Methadone is a long-acting opioid with less potency than heroin. It is active within the body for between 24 and 36 hours, depending on the user’s physiology.
Methadone engages the same receptors in the brain that heroin does. We prescribe it for the early stages of withdrawal in low doses that do not produce a high. This supplements the body’s weakened dopamine production, and alleviates the stress on the system that occurs when you suddenly stop using heroin.
During treatment, we reduce the dosage of methadone and our clients are closely monitored throughout this time. Round-the-clock medical support ensures that the treatment is working well, and when done in-residence, methadone treatment allows our team to provide psychological assessments and counseling, so we can check for further addictive behaviors and alter the treatment as needed.
Like methadone, buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid. It is typically prescribed around 24 hours after your last dose of heroin, and can either be prescribed as a lozenge or strip placed beneath the tongue. As an opioid, it reduces the effects of withdrawal early on, before you safely taper off.
Buprenorphine is unique in that it has a chemical “ceiling” effect. This means that if it is taken at high doses, its influence on the body begins to flatten out before it produces intense or dangerous effects. We prescribe it in low safe doses that do not produce a high so that you can start your recovery with a clear mind.
We review the effects of buprenorphine on an ongoing basis and lower the dosage depending on how well it controls withdrawal symptoms. If specific symptoms persist, we can start some treatments while you are on a low dose of buprenorphine.
Clonidine is an antihypertensive medicine that is known to alleviate many physical symptoms of withdrawal. It is a non-narcotic painkiller and can also be prescribed to relieve:
- Excessive sweating and chills
- GI cramping