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How To Recover From Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction is a serious issue that can have life-threatening consequences. The most effective way to overcome addiction to fentanyl is through a combination of medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy.

Fentanyl is a potent opioid drug capable of treating intense pain. Doctors may prescribe this following major surgery or a procedure. In some cases, it may also be prescribed for chronic pain in patients who have not responded well to other treatments.

Similar to some other opioids, fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. This means it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe dependence.

People who abuse and become addicted to fentanyl may suffer withdrawal symptoms after the effects of the drug have worn off. These symptoms can be highly uncomfortable and make it difficult for a person to stop using fentanyl on their own.

Fentanyl abuse may also have effects on the body and mind, including sedation and mental confusion. These can become more debilitating over time and result in severe consequences, including death.

Fentanyl Addiction Recovery

People who become addicted to fentanyl may have a difficult time functioning in their daily lives. They may find it harder to work or go to school, neglecting responsibilities. Those who abuse opioids may also have to sneak around or lie about their drug use, which can isolate them from family and friends.

Recovery from fentanyl addiction can be a difficult process, but it is possible. The type of treatment a person needs to overcome their problem may depend on several factors, including how much and how often they take the drug. Most often, doctors will recommend seeking help within an inpatient treatment center.

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Within an inpatient program, patients may receive a combination of certain medications and behavioral therapy.

What Makes Fentanyl Addictive?

As a prescription drug, some people may assume fentanyl is completely safe to use. This is not necessarily true. Although fentanyl may not be harmful when used as directed, chronic use may lead to dependence, which can increase risk for misuse and addiction.

The effects of fentanyl can also be addictive. When taken, fentanyl acts on certain areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. This can produce an intense rush of euphoria, or pleasure.

Over time, chronic abuse of fentanyl can also lead to severe dependence, which can make it harder for a person to quit. Increased tolerance to fentanyl may also lead to taking higher doses, which can result in overdose. Overdosing on fentanyl can cause permanent brain damage, coma, or result in death.

Fentanyl Detox And Withdrawal

Addiction to fentanyl can cause withdrawal symptoms once you have stopped using the drug. The symptoms that you experience, and their intensity, may depend on how long you have been taking the drug and in what amount.

People who have become addicted to fentanyl may start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last dose. These can be uncomfortable and cause both mental and physical distress.

The most common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • muscle and bone pain
  • cold flashes
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • sleeping problems
  • uncontrollable leg movements
  • strong drug cravings

It can be dangerous for people to attempt to detox from fentanyl alone. Although life-threatening consequences are rare, people who attempt detox alone may be more likely to relapse. People can also become severely dehydrated as a result of vomiting and diarrhea.

Medically-Supervised Detox

The safest and most effective way to stop using fentanyl is through medical detox. This provides 24-hour medical care and support within an inpatient facility while you undergo withdrawal.

From here, you may also be able to receive referrals for additional treatment following detox as the next step in your recovery process.

Inpatient Treatment Programs

Developing a treatment plan is an important part of the recovery process. This can involve discussing treatment options with one or more doctors to determine what will be most helpful for your recovery based on your personal needs.

Inpatient treatment is most commonly recommended by doctors following detox from addictive substances. Rehab programs for drug addiction typically last between 30 to 90 days, but may last longer depending on the offerings of the facility.

Within an inpatient program, you may be introduced to a treatment team of specialists assigned to track and discuss your progress. This team may include a medical doctor, counselor, psychiatrist, and other supervisory staff.

One of the most beneficial aspects of inpatient treatment for people in early recovery is its structure and support. Staying in a safe, substance-free environment can be an effective way to separate a person from potential triggers in early recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

The most effective way to treat opioid abuse is with the combined use of medications and behavioral therapy. This is known as medication-assisted treatment or MAT. Certain medications may be able to help ease drug cravings and treat any persisting withdrawal symptoms.

Medications for fentanyl addiction include:

  • buprenorphine
  • methadone
  • naltrexone
  • lofexidine

Behavioral Therapy For Fentanyl Addiction Recovery

Behavioral therapies can be an effective way to treat the emotional and mental aspects of addiction. With individual therapy, people may learn to identify triggers and develop coping skills to manage them in a healthier way. It may also be used to identify motivational incentives for remaining sober and treat any co-occurring issues such as depression or anxiety.

The types of therapy that can be effective for fentanyl addiction include:

  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • contingency management
  • motivational interviewing

Outpatient Support And Relapse Prevention

An important part of developing a treatment plan for recovery is setting up a strong support system after inpatient treatment. This aftercare support can be important for avoiding relapse outside of a structured and supervised environment.

For people recovering from drug addiction, this most often includes outpatient counseling and regular visits with other doctors as needed. This provides accountability, as well as a way to receive support on a regular basis.

Outpatient Programs

Some people overcoming addiction may have concerns about their ability to remain sober in their transition back to normal life. People with a long history of substance abuse, for instance, may need additional support during this transition period.

Partial hospitalization programs (PHP) and intensive outpatient programs (IOP) may be a helpful option for patients who feel uneasy about leaving a structured program. This involves spending 3 to 6 hours a day, a few times a week attending treatment at an inpatient center.

Support Groups

Attending outpatient support groups can also be helpful for people recovering from drug addiction. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are offered in many communities nationwide as a way to connect people in drug addiction recovery. These community-based recovery groups can provide a space for people with a history of substance abuse to receive and offer support to others.

Life After Fentanyl Abuse And Addiction

Recovery from fentanyl abuse is a lifelong process that begins with reaching out for help. The journey to recovery can look different for each person, and may be a gradual process of finding the support you need for a sober lifestyle.

After a treatment program, some people who are recovering from drug addiction may find benefit in local support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous. Attending support groups can help people stay accountable for their actions in sobriety, and build connections with others overcoming similar struggles.

People without proper support in their current residence may also benefit from the support and structure offered in sober living housing. Living in substance-free housing can be crucial for some people to help them remain recovery-focused.

Our treatment specialists may be able to refer you to treatment options suitable to meet your needs. This includes considerations for various budgets, location preferences, and any other personal concerns.

Don’t wait to seek help for you or a loved one. Contact us today to learn more about treatment options for lifelong fentanyl addiction recovery.

National Institute on Drug Abuse - DrugFacts: Fentanyl

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration - Drug Scheduling

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