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Fentanyl and Opioid Rehab – Addiction Treatment Options and Approaches

In this article, you will learn about the various treatment options for opioid use disorder (OUD). It’s important to note that detox alone is usually not enough to maintain lasting recovery.

Higher success rates are achieved when one engages in therapy (inpatient or outpatient), support groups and aftercare. 

What are Fentanyl and Opioids?

Opioids come in a number of forms, including prescription painkillers and illegally produced substances. Doctors can prescribe opioids to treat pain which is usually how someone becomes addicted.

When tolerance develops, more of the drug is needed to achieve the same effect and herein lies the issue – many doctors, especially these days, are hesitant to increase the dose and or refill the prescription resulting in people seeking the drug, or illicit forms of it, on the street.   

Even when used as prescribed, there is a high risk of addiction, overdose and death. When the effects of the drug start to subside, one has an overwhelming urge to use – an indication that one is quickly becoming addicted. 

Various forms of opioids:

  • Opium, Heroin
  • Morphine, Codeine
  • Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone
  • Oxycodone, Oxymorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl (available by prescription and produced illegally)

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and heroin. In the US, fentanyl is the leading cause of overdoses and deaths. Illegally produced fentanyl is manufactured in labs and sold as powder, blotter paper, eye drops, nasal sprays and pills.

The Opioid and Fentanyl Crisis in the US

Many illicit substances, such as cocaine, heroin and meth, are being cut with fentanyl because it is cheaper to produce and in very small doses will result in a stronger high for the user.

People are unknowingly ingesting the drug which has led to a huge rise in accidental overdoses and deaths. 

In the 1990s, there was a surge in prescription opioid production and pharmaceutical companies assured doctors that they were completely safe and non-addictive.

Over the coming years it became abundantly clear that these medications were in fact extremely addictive and the leading cause of substance related deaths. Lives and families were being destroyed at a staggering rate.

  • It is estimated that the opioid crisis costs up to $80 billion a year in healthcare costs, lost wages and strain on the justice system
  • The high rates of abuse and addiction are the direct result of negligent practices by doctors and pharmaceutical companies
  • There has been more education and public awareness in recent years but not enough to combat the detrimental impact opioids are having on society. 
  • Opioid use was once a problem found in urban areas but in recent years use in rural areas has soared, posing a major threat to public health
  • People struggling with co-occuring mental health issues and other substance use disorders face a higher rate of addiction

Fentanyl and Opioid Addiction Treatment Options & Approaches

It is always recommended that people do not attempt to detox on their own. Because the withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable, most people will give into the overwhelming urge to use.

Medically supervised detox is recommended and offers support and treatment by a team of professionals in a safe environment where one is removed from their triggers. 

Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks so determining the length of detox or treatment may be difficult as it is based on the needs of the individual. for a few days. The withdrawal timeline depends on various factors, like what type of opioid was being used, how much and for how long.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

  • MAT should be used in combination with therapy (individual counseling and groups) which can be delivered within an inpatient or outpatient setting, whichever meets the needs of the individual 
  • MAT provides a whole-patient approach and has much higher success rates

What medications are used?

  1. Methadone – this medication has been around since 1947 and used specifically to treat OUD since 1972. It is very effective in reducing pain, cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Although methadone works better for some people, it does tend to have a higher risk for abuse and addiction. 
  2. Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex) – these medications are very effective in reducing pain, cravings and withdrawal symptoms. They also target areas of the brain that produce feelings of pleasure and wellbeing. Buprenorphine has a lower potential for abuse than methadone and tends to be the preferred drug since its introduction in 2002. 
  3. Naltrexone – this medication acts by blocking the effects and withdrawal symptoms and does not work on the pleasure centers of the brain to make one feel pleasure drastically reducing the potential for abuse is.

These medications are effective as they block the effects of opioids and eliminate the painful withdrawal symptoms.

MAT is successful in helping to maintain abstinence and has a positive impact on reducing the number of overdoses and deaths. 

Other medications may be used based on individual needs, such as Clonidine for anxiety or Loperamide for diarrhea.

Behavioral Therapies

There are various therapies that can be used by a clinical team during the detox and treatment process. These are some of the most effective.

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): works by helping people change their current thought patterns and behaviors
  2. Motivational enhancement therapy (MET): aims to help people stay motivated during recovery
  3. Group counseling: peer supported therapy is very successfu and should be part of all substance use treatment plans 

Residential / Inpatient Programs

Residential / inpatient programs provide treatment in a safe environment by a team of experienced addiction professionals where one is removed from their home environment and triggers.

Inpatient treatment offers the medical and emotional support one needs and has higher success rates than other forms of treatment.

The length of stay will depend on a few factors:

  1. what drug was used, the amount and for how long
  2. co-occuring mental health issues or substance use disorder
  3. cost, insurance coverage
  4. personal factors such as how long one can be away from home, family, work

Please call Luxe Recovery today and speak with our friendly admissions team about your situation and learn about what treatment options are available.

Outpatient Programs 

Outpatient treatment offers support with detox, MAT, counseling, group therapy and aftercare but while staying at home. The level of support, number of weekly sessions and length of program will vary from program to program.

Outpatient programs are certainly better than attempting to detox alone but are not as successful as inpatient, largely due to staying in the environment where you face triggers and urges without built in supports.

Holistic Treatment

There are a number of effective holistic treatments offered. These can include:

  • mindfulness / meditation practices
  • exercise / fitness therapy
  • massage therapy
  • yoga / pilates
  • acupuncture
  • music / art therapy
  • nutrition / dietary

Aftercare / Continuing Care / Relapse Prevention 

When discharging from detox or inpatient treatment, it is imperative to have an aftercare or continuing care plan in place to provide structure upon returning home.

This has a huge impact on one’s risk of relapse and being able to maintain abstinence.  People who fail to engage in aftercare have a very high rate of relapse. 

The duration of an aftercare program depends on the individual but those who make recovery a part of their life and attend groups and therapy regularly, have much higher rates of success.

Continuing care plans:

  • continue to teach and build upon the skills and tools acquired during detox / treatment 
  • offer people a sense of belonging and purpose, increasing self-esteem
  • help people stay connected to their peer support groups, therapists, sponsors and friends in recovery, all of whom have a positive influence 
  • offer support for people struggling with co-occurring mental health conditions 

 We Are Here to Help 

If you or a loved one are using fentanyl or opioids, you should seek professional help right away. There are various treatment options which Luxe Recovery’s caring admissions team can discuss with you. Please reach out today.

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