Fentanyl Addiction And Treatment Options

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Finding the right drug rehab for fentanyl addiction is extremely important. Treating fentanyl addiction using federal guidelines can improve treatment outcomes for this highly potent and extremely addictive opioid.

Fentanyl Addiction And Treatment Options

Fentanyl is one of the strongest and most dangerous opioids being abused across America. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fentanyl contributed to more than half of the 47,600 opioid overdoses in 2017.

Since 2015, the federal government has provided guidelines for treating fentanyl and other opioid addictions. Substance abuse programs that follow these guidelines are regulated and certified by outside agencies to ensure that acceptable levels of care are provided to those seeking substance abuse treatment for opioid addiction.

Individuals struggling with a fentanyl addiction benefit from a structured substance abuse treatment program that is able to address all the specific needs of a person addicted to opioids. Fentanyl is a dangerous drug to abuse, as it is fatal in extremely low doses.

Additionally, illegally purchased fentanyl could be made in clandestine labs, and the exact amount of fentanyl in a dose is not always known. Effects of fentanyl abuse range from relaxation, to coma, overdose, and, many times, death.

When seeking treatment for a fentanyl addiction, choosing a substance abuse facility that uses an opioid treatment program (OTP) can help ensure that the most up-to-date, evidence based interventions are being used.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. Meaning, it is created in a lab to copy the effects of opioids like morphine and heroin, which are derived from the poppy plant. Synthetic opioids are not any safer because they are man-made, and in fact, can be much more potent and dangerous.

Fentanyl began being marketed as a pain management opioid in the 90s. The intended purpose of fentanyl was to help ease the chronic moderate to severe pain, and alleviate the intense pain associated with cancer.

Fentanyl is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine, and fatal in very small doses. Pharmaceutical grade fentanyl can cause a fatal overdose at 2 milligrams. This is less than 5 grains of table salt. Comparably, a fatal dose of morphine is approximately 200 mg.

Fentanyl that is made illegally usually is not measured or dosed appropriately. This instability only increases the dangers associated with fentanyl addiction, and encourages the need for substance abuse treatment in individuals misusing any form of fentanyl.

Fentanyl Addiction Rehab

When a person seeks substance abuse treatment for fentanyl addiction, the comprehensive care offered through opioid treatment programs (OTPs) is considered the standard of care for addiction to opioids, like Fentanyl.

Opioid addiction treatment usually begins with an intake process. At this point, a person is assessed and a determination is made regarding treatment options. In order to attend an OTP, a person must receive an opioid use disorder (OUD) diagnosis.

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Once in rehab, most individuals will need to go through a detoxification process. This medically supervised process allows the opioids to leave the body as comfortably as possible. Some alternate medications are used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal.

After detox, rehabilitation begins. Counseling, vocational training, education, workshops, and other interventions are implemented to provide opportunities for growth and insight regarding addiction. This part of treatment is detrimental to recovery.

While in treatment, an aftercare plan is developed. This will provide recommendations for continued care, relapse prevention information, and sustained recovery options. The aftercare options are individualized to help encourage participation and increase the likelihood of sobriety.

What Is An Opioid Treatment Program (OTP)?

In order to be considered an OTP, substance abuse treatment locations are required to provide multi-faceted, individualized substance abuse treatment, including:

  • individualized treatment plans that are continually updated
  • assessments
  • medical services
  • substance abuse counseling and education
  • vocational or employment training

Any required treatment that is not available at the drug rehab facility can be provided off-site, but must be documented using a formal agreement with the alternative provider. In addition, any problems, issues, or concerns found during treatment MUST be adequately resolved by the treatment facility.

Regulating Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs)

Fentanyl addiction can be treated at a substance abuse facility that offers opioid treatment programs. These programs are federally regulated and monitored at multiple levels (local, federal and state) to ensure acceptable levels of care are offered at these facilities.

In order to be considered an OTP provides, substance abuse facilities must have the following:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certification, and re-certified every five years
  • state licensure (from the state where the facility is located)
  • accreditation by a SAMHSA approved accreditation agency, with re-certification as required (one- or three-years)
  • registration with Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) by way of a local DEA office

These requirements create a structured, uniformed substance abuse treatment program to address the unique needs of a person addicted to opioids, like fentanyl. This format works to treat opioid addiction.

What Is An Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)?

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a person must be abusing opioids (fentanyl in this care) to the point of impairment, resulting in at least two of the following: 

  • needing more fentanyl than before (tolerance)
  • unable to stop taking fentanyl or lower dosage (dependence)
  • wanting more fentanyl (cravings)
  • getting sick without fentanyl (withdrawal)
  • using fentanyl in dangerous situations
  • avoiding situations that fentanyl cannot be used
  • fentanyl use negatively impacting health or responsibilities
  • continued fentanyl use despite negative effects
  • excessive amount of time and money spent on fentanyl
  • overdose

Fentanyl addiction, like other opioid addictions, can begin with a legitimate medical issue, such as surgery or chronic pain. Over time, however, misuse of these dangerous medications can result in an addiction that needs intervention.

Effects Of Fentanyl Addiction

Regardless of the reason for taking fentanyl, there are some warning signs to watch for that may indicate that a person has crossed the threshold and could be addicted to fentanyl.

These symptoms range from dry mouth to death, and may also include:

  • cold sweats
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • insomnia
  • nodding out inappropriately
  • shakiness
  • itchy
  • breathing issues
  • nightmares
  • dizziness
  • constipation
  • unable to urinate
  • respiratory failure
  • coma

A fentanyl addiction can affect all areas of a person’s life. It is not just about the physical side effects. A person addicted to fentanyl may lose a job, family members, relationships, housing, or themselves. There is no limit to what an opioid addiction can cost a person or their loved ones.

Finding A Rehab For Fentanyl Addiction

Searching for an OTP amongst the many traditional substance abuse programs can be a daunting task. Especially after the stress associated with realizing that a drug treatment program is necessary. That is where we come in.

Reach out to us today so we can provide assistance to you or your loved one. We are here to provide support and guidance through this complicated time, call today.

SAMHSA - Federal Guidelines for Opioid Treatment Programs

Department of Health and Human Services - Integrating substance abuse treatment and vocational services

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Drugs Of Abuse (2017)

National Institute on Drug Abuse - Overdose Death Rates

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Assessing and Addressing Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

Food and Drug Administration - Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)