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Fentanyl Addiction Treatment and Rehab Centers

4 min read · 7 sections

Fentanyl is an extremely potent and potentially deadly synthetic opioid drug. In terms of its powerful opioid effects, fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.1 Unfortunately, every day, more than 150 people die from overdoses involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.1

Many who take fentanyl may not even realize they’re using it since fentanyl is commonly mixed with other substances—including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine—but fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous.1

Overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids—primarily from fentanyl—continued to increase year over year.3 In 2020, there were 57,834 deaths from synthetic opioids, and in 2021, there were 71,238 deaths.3

Like other opioids, fentanyl is also an addictive drug. At least 2.7 million people in the United States had opioid use disorder, the clinical term for opioid addiction, in 2020.2 While treatment for fentanyl addiction exists, less than 12% of people with an opioid use disorder in 2020 received medication and treatment for their opioid addiction.2

Don’t become one of these statistics. You can change your future by getting help at a fentanyl treatment center near you.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance. This means it has a high recognized potential for misuse and physical and psychological dependence, though it is also a valuable medication used to manage severe pain after surgery and various other clinical scenarios.1,4

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl may be encountered in different forms, including liquids and powders which have reportedly been mixed in with nasal sprays, eye drops, candies, or pressed into pills which sometimes resemble other prescription medications.1 People may be unaware how much fentanyl is present in the illicit drugs that they use, or that the drugs are laced with it at all, which can increase the dangers of overdose toxicity.1

When fentanyl enters the body, it binds to and powerfully activates opioid receptors.5 This is how fentanyl and other opioids help to control pain, however such receptor activation is also associated with increased dopamine activity in the reward centers of our brain, which can reinforce the continued use of the drug.5,6

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Like many opioid drugs, fentanyl’s reinforcing effects can make problematic use more likely—which holds true for both illicit and prescription forms of the drug. Fentanyl misuse, including non-medical misuse of prescription fentanyl, can set the stage for addiction, or what clinicians diagnose as an opioid use disorder.

As the official diagnostic criteria for an opioid use disorder, some of the signs of fentanyl addiction may include:7

  • Using more fentanyl than intended or for longer than intended.
  • Being unable to cut down or stop using fentanyl despite trying.
  • Spending more time obtaining, using, and recovering from fentanyl use.
  • Having cravings or urges to use fentanyl.
  • Failure to meet work, school, or home responsibilities due to fentanyl use.
  • Continuing fentanyl use despite persistent social or interpersonal problems that result.
  • Giving up activities you previously enjoyed or that had importance in your life.
  • Using fentanyl in dangerous situations that could cause additional harm, such as driving under the influence.
  • Continuing fentanyl use despite it causing or worsening physical and mental health conditions.
  • Developing tolerance to fentanyl’s desired effects.
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms when the fentanyl use slows or stops.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment and Rehab Options 

If you recognize symptoms of fentanyl addiction in yourself or a loved one, seek help. Effective treatment for substance use disorders caters to the unique needs of the individual; and therefore, looks different for everyone but may include:8

  • Detoxification. Medically managed drug detox allows your body to clear itself of fentanyl and other substances safely and as comfortably as possible. Medication, prescribed by healthcare professionals, can help you manage sometimes markedly unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Detox, alone, is not typically enough to support long-term recovery and is often the first step in a more comprehensive treatment plan.
  • Inpatient treatment. Inpatient addiction treatment takes place in two settings, which include:
    • Residential inpatient treatment. Residential treatment may be short- or long-term. It refers to treatment centers that are not hospital-based. These programs offer treatment 24 hours a day, and individuals live onsite for the duration of treatment. The length of stay depends on your needs and the capabilities of the treatment center.
    • Hospital inpatient programs. These programs offer 24-hour care in a hospital setting. These are typically shorter, more intense programs. The goal is often to help stabilize you and then set you up to continue in an outpatient program.
  • Outpatient treatment. The various levels of outpatient rehab or care include:9
    • Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs). PHPs often serve as step-down care after treatment in a residential setting, though they may also be a good starting place for those who live in a supportive home environment, but would benefit from the added structure for relapse prevention. PHPs typically provide treatment for 6–8 hours per day, 5 days per week.
    • Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). IOPs offer the same therapies as PHPs and inpatient programs but require participation for fewer hours each day and fewer days each week.
    • Traditional outpatient care. Traditional outpatient care provides group or individual therapy, but may also provide an opportunity for treatment medication management. These programs often offer increased flexibility, allowing people to work or attend school while in treatment.
  • Aftercare. Also known as continuing care or recovery support services, aftercare refers to an individual’s active participation in their recovery after formal treatment ends. Staff that manages recovery support can help individuals find continued therapy, telephone counseling, sober-living homes, or mutual-help meetings like Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Additionally, they can help individuals in recovery navigate the healthcare system, find a job, avoid relapse, and resettle into life without fentanyl.

Most treatment programs utilize different combinations of evidence-based behavioral therapies and medication for addiction and ongoing treatment. Common therapeutic methods include:9

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT uses the idea that dysfunctional behaviors come from a dysfunctional way of thinking. CBT addresses this by teaching individuals the techniques to change their thoughts and improve coping skills to help individuals stay fentanyl (and other substances) free.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy (MET). Also referred to as motivational interviewing, this counseling technique helps individuals resolve uncertainties about quitting fentanyl by helping them come up with their own solutions. Rather than telling them what to do or change, the therapist helps them come up with solutions that will work best for them. This is done through guided conversations that involve reflections, empathy, and support.
  • Contingency management (CM). CM helps support positive behavior change, like abstaining from fentanyl, by giving tangible rewards. The reward may come in the form of a gift card, movie tickets, or something else entirely. Rewards continue with “good” behavior milestones—such as a drug-free urine or blood test—until healthy habits are established.
  • 12-Step facilitation therapy (TSF). TSF helps people better understand and anticipate eventual engagement with 12-Step programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) as part of their recovery, including post-rehab. Two key components of 12-Step programs include “acceptance” and “surrender,” both of which allow individuals to fully realize that they cannot overcome addiction alone, and that by following the12-Step program model, they can avoid relapse and maintain a healthy and drug-free existence.
  • Family therapy. Integral as part of the treatment plan for teenagers and children because it addresses any family issues alongside the substance use disorder or mental health issue, family therapy has proven to be extremely useful in all patients with substance use disorders. Family therapy strengthens an individual’s recovery support team and addresses any family issues that may contribute to the substance use.

How Long Does Fentanyl Rehab Last?

The length of treatment varies for each person and depends on several factors, including the severity of substance use, co-occurring mental health disorders, and underlying physical health conditions, among other things. For some, treatment may last for weeks; others may require months of treatment.8

Your treatment protocol may also change as you progress. You may begin treatment in an inpatient facility, then move to an outpatient center; or you may change from a PHP to an IOP or traditional outpatient program. So, in thinking about fentanyl rehab, keeping the whole picture in mind can keep you afloat if the process feels long.

Fentanyl Addiction Medications

Medications to treat fentanyl use disorder can be extremely beneficial to your long-term recovery. There are several different medications that can be useful at different stages of recovery. Medications for addiction treatment can help with sobriety maintenance and function as a deterrent for relapse. People with opioid use disorder often use medications as a part of their addiction treatment. These medications may include:10

  • Methadone. An opioid agonist, methadone stimulates the same receptors as fentanyl. When taken as prescribed, the onset of these effects are relatively more gradual and longer lasting, so methadone should not be associated with the reinforcing highs of other opioid drugs. Instead, methadone treatment allows you to avoid withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. As a treatment for opioid use disorder, methadone is closely regulated and dispensed through specialized opioid treatment programs.
  • Buprenorphine. A partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine binds to the same receptors as fentanyl but only partially activates them. Prescribed as a monthly injection, a sublingual film, or a tablet, buprenorphine can also eliminate cravings and withdrawal symptoms in an individual dependent on opioids.
  • Naltrexone. An opioid antagonist, naltrexone blocks the receptors that fentanyl activates. This means that naltrexone treats opioid use disorder by preventing a reinforcing high if you relapse and take fentanyl or other opioids.

Fentanyl Rehab Cost and Insurance Coverage

The cost of rehab depends on several factors, including:

  • The duration of treatment.
  • The location of the facility.
  • The type of treatment.
  • Extra amenities.
  • Your insurance coverage.

There are many types of treatment centers that accept different forms of payment. Many facilities take private insurance. Most private insurance covers at least part of the cost of treatment.

Other facilities may accept Medicare, Medicaid, sliding-scale payments (based on your income), or no payment at all (for those who cannot pay). Talk to an admissions navigator to discuss your payment options.

How to Choose the Best Fentanyl Treatment Program Near You

It can be overwhelming to begin the search for a treatment program for yourself or for a loved one. There are lots of facilities. Consider the following questions to help you narrow the options.

  • Is the facility nearby, or will it require travel?
  • Does the program take your insurance?
  • Is this program accredited? Is the staff credentialed?
  • Is there a high staff-to-patient ratio?
  • Does the treatment center provide detoxification services?
  • Does the facility offer treatment for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders?
  • What amenities does the rehab center offer?

Addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition. Recovery can continue well beyond initial treatment and may benefit from a re-initiation of treatment in the event that you relapse. Since improved treatment outcomes are associated with adequate treatment lengths, perhaps the best way to minimize future stays and avoid relapse is to stay in treatment for the entire duration recommended by your healthcare team.8

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