Residential Treatment for Teen Heroin addiction

Heroin is a popular opioid extracted from morphine, a natural pain reliever in poppy plant seeds. It is a highly addictive narcotic that a user can develop tolerance to. This means they will need a higher dose to achieve a high. The biggest producers of heroin are Afghanistan, Mexico, Colombia, Southeast, and Southwest Asia. Heroin comes as either a white powder or as black tar heroin, which is a black, sticky, and gooey substance.

Teens can use heroin in a variety of ways. These include intravenous injections, snorting, sniffing, and smoking. Like most other drugs in powder form, heroin is cut with other substances and drugs such as cocaine and crack cocaine. A mix of crack cocaine and heroin is called a speedball because of its potent characteristics. It is important that you seek teen opioid treatment and teen residential treatment if you suspect your teenager is abusing heroin or other drugs.

Heroin Use and Abuse Facts and Statistics

According to research conducted in 2011, data collected showed that 4 to 6 percent of individuals who abused prescription opioids switched to heroin. Prescription opioids and heroin bind to opioid receptors offering similar reactions when used. Among heroin users, it was reported that 80% of them also abused prescription opioids.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2021, about 1.1 million people aged 12 and over reported using heroin at least once in the year preceding the survey. Among high school students, it was reported that in 2022, 0.3% of 8th graders, 0.2 of 10th graders, and 0.3% of 12th graders used heroin within 12 months of the survey. It is also estimated that about 9,173 deaths occurred due to a heroin overdose. These teenage substance abuse statistics (overdose) only involve heroin use. A mixture of heroin and other substances like cocaine and fentanyl have higher overdose rates.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction in Teens

Heroin has many effects on the brain. Since it is either injected, snorted, or smoked, it rapidly enters the brain, binding to opioid receptors. These receptors are located in parts of the brain that control pain, pleasure, breathing, and heart rate. Teens who abuse heroin often report feeling euphoric, reduced heart rate, and slowed breathing. Some other short-term effects of heroin include

  • Nausea and vomiting,
  • Tingling sensations on the skin,
  • Itching,
  • Impaired cognitive function,
  • Transitioning back and forth between consciousness and unconsciousness,
  • Dry mouth,

Some long-term effects of heroin addiction are:

  • Struggling with sleep and insomnia,
  • Track marks,
  • Collapsed veins due to repeated injections,
  • Nose tissue damage if the teens snort or sniff the drug,
  • Liver damage,
  • Kidney failure,
  • Erectile dysfunction,
  • Irregular menstrual cycles,
  • Lung damage,
  • Pneumonia,
  • Heart failure,
  • Onset or worsening of mental health conditions such as depression and antisocial disorders,
  • Transmission of diseases like HIV and hepatitis due to shared needles,
  • Permanent organ damage from additives in heroin.

Teens who abuse heroin can experience severe withdrawal if they abruptly stop using it. Some common withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, severe diarrhea and vomiting, cold flashes, twitching, heroin cravings, and severe muscle pain.

How will you know if your teen is abusing heroin? Together with the above signs of heroin abuse, your teen may also exhibit behavioral changes that can be linked to drug and substance abuse. These include avoiding interactions and eye contact with you, slurred speech, declining academic performance, addicted to stealing, hiding their arms due to track marks, financial overdependence without account, hostility, and lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed.

You can also watch for signs like spoons and aluminum foil with soot and char marks, missing shoelaces that can be used to tie off their arms, needles and syringes, and white residue on surfaces and in small plastic bags, pipes, and bongs.

Once you notice any of these signs, it is crucial that you seek addiction treatment for your teen from professionals.

Effects of Heroin Addiction on Teens

Heroin addiction can have several effects on the teen’s life. These effects range from health to social effects. Some social effects of heroin addiction include

  • Breakdown of interpersonal relationships,
  • Financial dependence on others,
  • Teenager lying,
  • Declining academic performance,
  • Teenage Isolation,
  • Worsening of antisocial personality disorder.

Some health effects include

  • Respiratory failure,
  • Necrotizing fasciitis,
  • Cardiac arrest,
  • Coma,
  • Pulmonary embolism due to additives.

What to Expect During Residential Treatment

What do you expect from residential treatment for teens using heroin? An intake procedure is undertaken when you decide to enroll your child in a residential treatment center for teens. During the intake process, you and your teenager will be asked to fill out a series of questionnaires providing information like history of drug use, family history, and any other drugs the teen is abusing.

After filling out these questionnaires, your teen will be assessed by a psychologist and other clinicians to evaluate their willingness to receive help. The information collected at this stage will be used to create a treatment plan tailor-made for your teen’s needs. The information collected is also strictly confidential.

After a treatment plan has been created, the teen will be required to undergo a medically supervised heroin detox for adolescents, where professionals manage the withdrawal symptoms of heroin. They can also use medication like methadone, buprenorphine, and other opioid agonists to manage symptoms.

After detox, the teen will start individual, group, and family therapy where they can express themselves and solve the underlying issues that might have contributed to their addiction. In some residential treatment centers, teens engage in recreational activities to help them develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Residential Treatment Programs for Heroin Addiction in Teens

Residential drug and alcohol treatment for heroin addiction is reserved for teens with chronic addiction or mental health issues.

At Key Healthcare, we offer specialized residential treatment for teens aged 13-17. Our Residential Treatment Center (RTC) offers 24/7 care for teens struggling with heroin addiction. We use various methods for teen addiction treatment, including evidence-based treatment options like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT for teens) and dialectal behavior therapy (DBT for teens), holistic therapy approaches like teen art therapy, music therapy, and yoga, and recreational activities like hiking and exercise to help teens develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Our RTC program is conducted in Malibu, Los Angeles, and is run by qualified personnel specializing in treating teenagers. Contact Key Healthcare to receive professional services for your teenager.

Individual Therapy

Individual teen therapy is the primary form of treating heroin addiction in teens. It involves one-on-one sessions between teens and their therapists where they can open up about their struggles with heroin addiction. During individual therapy, the therapist utilizes CBT and DBT to help teens manage their emotions. Teens also learn how to accept themselves as who they are and change into better versions of themselves. With individual therapy, teens also learn how to let their guard down and express their needs and struggles without fear.

Family therapy

Teen family therapy is used in RTC to help teens and their families go through rehabilitation. Families experience various challenges as they try to help the teen struggling with addiction. With family therapy, they are able to express their feelings and solve the challenges they are facing. Family therapy enables families to work together to uncover the cause of addiction. Environmental factors contribute greatly to addiction, and family therapy can be instrumental in understanding and eliminating these factors. During family therapy, the teen can also understand how the addiction affects their family while the family learns how to support the teen’s recovery effectively.

Family therapy also helps the family learn not to enable the teen’s addiction and how to create a structured support system for the teen struggling with heroin addiction.

Group therapy

Group teen therapy is very instrumental in treating teen addiction. It involves bringing teens struggling with addiction together to share their struggles. Group therapy helps them form a support system by building meaningful connections and bonds through shared struggles. It also teaches teens how to cope with their issues. In group therapy, teens acquire skills like problem-solving, conflict resolution, and open communication.

Holistic Therapy Approaches

At Key Healthcare, we offer holistic therapy approaches to teach teens how to be more expressive and learn how to cope with stress. We offer the following holistic therapy approaches:

  • Art Therapy for teens – This form of therapy is used to help teens express themselves through art. They learn drawing, sculpting, painting, coloring, photography, and collage-making to help them express their feelings through art. Art therapy helps teens become more self-aware, increase self-esteem, reduce stress, and explore their identities.
  • Music Therapy for teens– Music has been used to soothe people for a long time. In music therapy, teens reduce stress, learn to play instruments, sing, and compose music. This helps them improve their communication skills, reduce stress and anxiety, and become more confident and self-aware.
  • Teen Yoga Therapy – Yoga is an effective treatment for substance abuse issues. It teaches the teen how to cope with stress.
  • Teen Surf Therapy – Since our RTC program is conducted in Malibu, Los Angeles, teens get to engage in surfing to blow off some steam. This lowers their stress and anxiety.
  • Recreational Activities – Teens engage in recreational activities such as hiking and exercise to help them develop healthy coping mechanisms. Exercising releases dopamine, giving teens a “runner’s high” that keeps their minds off drugs.

Benefits of Teen Residential Treatment Centers (Teen RTC)

Heroin addiction can be difficult to manage without professional help. Seeking professional help through residential rehab for teens struggling with heroin addiction can be very beneficial. Some benefits of residential treatment include the following:

  • Structured and drug-free environment. Residential treatment offers a structured environment that is free from drugs. Teens engage in a daily routine to develop healthy coping mechanisms that are beneficial in treating heroin addiction. RTC programs also offer round-the-clock care and medically supervised detox to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Comfortable amenities. Many residential treatment centers for teens offer comfortable amenities that feel just like home. Keeping the teen comfortable as they recover is crucial for successful rehabilitation.
  • Academic support. Residential treatment centers offer academic support through qualified academic coaches and tutors. This will help teens not fall behind in school.
  • Holistic therapy options. Using holistic treatment approaches like art, music, dance, and yoga is an effective way of developing healthy coping mechanisms to treat heroin addiction.
  • Individualized heroin addiction treatment plans. RTC programs also offer tailor-made treatment plans specific to each teenager. Different teens require different levels of care, and RTC programs ensure each teen receives the appropriate level of care.
  • Teen dual diagnosis treatment for improved mental and physical health. Residential treatment centers may also offer substance abuse treatment for teens and co-occurring disorders. This means they treat not only the addiction but also the underlying causes.

Choosing the Right Residential Treatment Program for Teens

If your teen is struggling with heroin addiction, it is important to seek professional help. Once you decide to enroll your teen in residential rehab for teens, how do you choose which one to enroll them in? It would be best if you considered several factors to ensure your teen receives the best care. These factors include the following:

  • Location. The facility’s location is one of the biggest factors you need to consider. Choosing a facility on the other side of the country may not be appropriate for you or your teen. Ensure you choose a facility that is close to you so that you can actively participate in rehabilitating your teen.
  • Cost. Cost is another big factor you need to consider. Look for a facility that accepts your insurance coverage or is budget friendly to ensure you do not get into financial trouble.
  • Staff. Make sure the staff at the facility are qualified. Visit the facility’s site to see who their staff are and their qualifications.
  • Specialization. Pick a facility that specializes in teen care. Teens require a different level of care compared to adults since they are in a unique stage of development. Picking a specialist facility will ensure your teen receives the best available care.
  • Aftercare Services. Picking a facility with aftercare services, such as support groups and periodic visits, can ensure successful rehabilitation.


In conclusion, heroin addiction can be a problem for teens. Heroin addiction may cause disastrous effects, such as lung damage, kidney failure, liver damage, vein collapse, and even death. Heroin abuse also causes a breakdown in interpersonal relationships, declining academic performance, financial dependence on others, and legal problems. It is important to seek professional services if your teen is addicted to heroin.

Professional services offer residential treatment, giving your teen round-the-clock care as they recover from addiction. Residential Treatment Centers also utilize several strategies to treat heroin addiction. These include individual, group, and family therapy,

Cognitive behavioral therapy for teens (CBT), dialectal behavior therapy for teens (DBT), art, music, surf therapy, and recreational activities help teens develop healthy coping mechanisms. Enroll your teen struggling with heroin addiction in a residential facility to get the necessary care.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does heroin stay in a teen’s system?

Heroin can stay in your system for up to 3 months, depending on what is tested. Heroin can be detected in hair for up to 3 months, in urine for up to 48 hours, in blood for up to 6 hours, and up to 6 hours in saliva. If you want to know more please check out our guide on how long does heroin stay in your system.

Can teens overdose on heroin?

Yes. Heroin is a highly potent drug that can cause an overdose. A heroin overdose occurs when a teen takes enough of the drug to cause a life-threatening reaction. A heroin overdose causes the user’s breathing to slow and even stop. The effect of depressed breathing is hypoxia, a lack of oxygen in the brain. A heroin overdose can be prevented by using Naloxone, an opioid antagonist that prevents the drug from binding with opioid receptors.

Are there alternative treatments to residential treatment for teens?

Depending on the severity of the addiction, there are alternative treatments. These include the Intensive Outpatient Program for teens or the Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program. These are options available for mild to moderate addiction.

How does heroin addiction affect family dynamics?

Heroin addiction may cause a breakdown of trust between family members. Teens struggling with addiction may engage in activities such as stealing and lying, which destroys their family’s trust. They may also encounter legal problems which further destroy trust.

What happens during a typical day in a residential treatment center?

On a typical day, a teen wakes up at a designated time. They wake up early and have a healthy breakfast. They attend early meetings. In the afternoon, they have lunch and go for individual or group therapy, where they may engage in activities such as art, music, and yoga. They also receive some free time to do their personal work and interact with their peers. After dinner, they have 12-step meetings that build support for their recovery.

Can teens continue their education while in residential treatment?

Yes, teens in residential facilities receive tutoring and academic coaching. They are able to maintain schoolwork and also improve their academic performance.

How addictive is heroin?

Heroin is a highly addictive opioid extracted from the poppy plant. It is classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. The schedule lists drugs with a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.

How is heroin addiction diagnosed?

A professional diagnoses heroin addiction using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). If a person meets 2 of the 11 criteria, they are classified as a mild addict. For moderate addiction, a person should meet 3-4 criteria; for severe addiction, they must meet 5 or more criteria.