Fentanyl Rehab and Addiction Treatment Programs
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can be up to 50 times stronger than heroin and up to 100 times more potent than morphine.1
A person can obtain fentanyl legally or illegally. Prescription fentanyl is available in lozenges, patches, or shots and is used to treat chronic or severe pain.1 Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is often sold in pill or powder form, blotter paper, eye droppers, or nasal sprays.1
Because fentanyl is powerful and relatively inexpensive to produce, drug dealers often add it to other substances, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA.1 This can be particularly dangerous if a person does not realize they are taking a drug that contains a dangerous additive like fentanyl.1 Unfortunately, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are now the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths in the U.S.2
Is Fentanyl Addictive?
Fentanyl’s potency makes it highly addictive.1 As with other opioids, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, located in areas of the brain associated with emotions and pain.1 With repeated use, the brain adapts to the presence of fentanyl and diminishes its sensitivity, which can make it difficult for a person to feel pleasure from anything other than the drug, and a person may also have to take increasing amounts to even feel pleasure from the drug. This is one reason why it can be hard to stop using fentanyl.1 The body can also adapt in a way that the brain is so used to fentanyl, that if a person stops taking it or significantly reduces their dose, they feel horrible withdrawal symptoms.
This can contribute to the development of opioid addiction. Someone with an opioid addiction compulsively uses opioids, despite experiencing significant negative consequences to their personal, professional, and social life. In addition to addiction development, fentanyl exposes users to other health risks, including overdose, even when used in small amounts.1, 2
If you or a loved one are struggling, you should know that fentanyl addiction is treatable.1 This article will help you learn more about fentanyl addiction treatment programs, including:
- Levels of care for fentanyl addiction.
- Therapies for fentanyl addiction.
- How to choose a fentanyl rehab.
Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Programs
Fentanyl rehab can take place in different settings and can vary in approach, duration, and intensity depending on the program as well as a patient’s specific needs and treatment goals. No one form of treatment is suitable for everyone. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), effective treatment is individualized and factors in a patient’s medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal needs.3
Although specific aspects of treatment will vary, patients who enter fentanyl rehab can expect to receive a combination of:1, 4, 5
- Counseling and behavioral therapies. These can help patients identify and modify behaviors and thoughts related to fentanyl use while learning healthy life skills and ways to better cope with stress and other triggers of drug use.
- Medication. Medication such as buprenorphine and methadone can help ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings and can blunt or block the effects of opioids. Those who have already completed withdrawal may be prescribed naltrexone, which can block the sedative and euphoric effects of opioids.
- Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression, or another substance use disorder). Research shows that more than 90% of patients admitted to publicly funded treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) report using at least one non-opioid substance in the past month.
- Aftercare. This can help patients sustain recovery and, if needed, address a return to substance use.
Fentanyl Detox Programs
The chronic use of opioids like fentanyl can lead to dependence and subsequent withdrawal symptoms when a person cuts back or stops taking the drug.6 Detox can be an important first step in recovery for many patients as it is designed to:6
- Comfortably and safely manage the acute symptoms associated with withdrawal.
- Help patients become medically stable.
- Facilitate the transition to long-term addiction treatment.
Several factors can influence the duration and severity of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, such as how long a person took fentanyl and what dosage, and whether they used other substances. While the onset of withdrawal symptoms can vary, they may begin within a few hours of the last time a patient uses the drug and last for 1 week or longer.7 During fentanyl detox, patients may receive medications, such as buprenorphine, clonidine, or methadone to eliminate or reduce withdrawal symptoms.6
Patients are encouraged to transition to ongoing treatment post-detox because detox only addresses acute withdrawal symptoms until someone is medically stable.3 Detox alone is rarely sufficient in stopping people from using opioids. Ongoing treatment post-detox may include medication as well as behavioral therapy, which can address the behavioral, psychological, social, and other underlying issues associated with their disordered drug use.
Inpatient Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
With inpatient treatment, patients live onsite at a rehab facility for the duration of treatment and receive round-the-clock care, monitoring, and support.4
Treatment length can vary based on a patient’s needs. This can include shorter-term stays of a few weeks, longer stays in acute or hospital-based settings, as well as longer residential rehab that can last a couple of months or more.4
Inpatient fentanyl addiction treatment may involve a combination of individual and group counseling, behavioral therapies, and medications and can be beneficial for patients who:1, 8
- Have more severe substance use disorders.
- Have co-occurring medical or psychiatric disorders.
- Do not have stable home environments or supportive family or friends.
- Do not have access to reliable transportation.
Outpatient Treatment for Fentanyl
With outpatient treatment, patients live at home or in a sober living facility and travel to a fentanyl rehab regularly. Outpatient treatment can occur in various settings, including counselors’ offices, health clinics, local health departments, and residential facilities with outpatient clinics, among others.8
Outpatient rehab can vary in duration and intensity. Less intensive outpatient programs may focus on drug education and only require 1-2 days of treatment per week.4, 8 Other more intensive programs include partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) or intensive outpatient programs (IOPs).8 These programs are highly structured and can be similar to inpatient programs. Sometimes, a patient may start in an inpatient program and transition to an outpatient program as they progress in their recovery efforts.8
Outpatient programs can last anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more, depending on a patient’s needs.8 Like inpatient programs, outpatient rehab for fentanyl may involve a combination of individual and group counseling, behavioral therapies, and medications.1
Outpatient rehab can be beneficial for patients who:8
- Have less severe substance use disorders.
- Can attend regular sessions at a facility.
- Have stable home environments.
Aftercare, also known as continuing care, refers to different ways of supporting a patient’s ongoing recovery after completing an initial treatment period.9 It is designed to support a patient’s recovery goals, ensure a robust social support structure, and may involve different relapse prevention techniques from individual counseling to mutual help groups, that can help patients avoid a return to substance use.9
Aftercare therapy can involve different activities, such as:3, 9, 10
- Group and individual counseling.
- Participation in 12-step (e.g., Narcotics Anonymous) or other mutual support group meetings (e.g., SMART Recovery).
- Regular follow-up visits with doctors, nurses, or other healthcare professionals.
- Family or couple’s therapy.
- Prescription medication.
- Residing in a sober living home or similar type of recovery housing.
- Telehealth counseling sessions.
Therapies for Fentanyl Addiction
Fentanyl addiction treatment often involves behavioral therapy interventions.1 Behavioral therapies are designed to help patients address the underlying issues associated with addiction, develop healthier life skills, manage stressors that can trigger substance use, and stick with medication regimens.1
Specific behavioral therapies that may be used during treatment often include:1, 3
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This teaches patients different ways to modify behaviors, expectations, and thoughts associated with substance use while helping them learn to manage stress and triggers.
- Multi-dimensional family therapy. This is an outpatient, family-based therapy for adolescents who use substances that involves a comprehensive approach involving different forms of counseling for teens, parents, and other family members in various settings.
- Motivational interviewing. This is a patient-centered approach that works to help patients resolve their ambivalence about change.
- Motivational incentives, also known as contingency management. This provides positive reinforcements, such as vouchers to exchange for tangible goods, as rewards for desirable outcomes, such as negative drug screens.
Choosing a Fentanyl Rehab Center
When researching fentanyl rehab centers, it can be helpful to consider different factors, such as:11
- The levels of care offered at the facility.
- The facility’s location.
- Its accreditation.
- Whether the facility offers medication.
- Whether the facility includes family members in the treatment process
- Whether the facility uses evidence-based practices.
- Whether the facility offers ongoing resources, support, and other interventions to support basic needs, such as employment assistance or recovery housing.
- Your insurance coverage.
If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl misuse or addiction, it may be time to seek professional help. You can find treatment for fentanyl addiction in different ways, such as by contacting your doctor and asking for referrals, joining a local support group, or searching our rehab directory to find rehabs that meet your criteria. You can also easily verify your insurance coverage online.
Need additional help for fentanyl addiction? You can contact Amerian Addiction Centers (AAC) 24/7 at . Our compassionate admissions navigators are available to hear your story and provide resources and support. Calling is confidential and free, and there is zero obligation to enter treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fentanyl
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