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Why is Fentanyl So Dangerous? Understanding Why it’s Important to Get Help for Fentanyl Addiction

dangers of fentanyl abuseOver the last 20 years, the devastating opioid epidemic has evolved into what it is today: one of the leading causes of preventable death and one of the reasons for America’s reduced life expectancy.[1]

Between 2020 and 2021, the U.S. saw the most drug overdose deaths recorded in the nation’s history. Approximately 66% of these overdose deaths are attributed to fentanyl, an extremely powerful and addictive opioid drug.[2]

But what makes fentanyl so dangerous in the first place? Well, fentanyl isn’t your average opioid drug. It is more deadly and more widespread than other opioids in existence.

If you or someone you love is addicted to fentanyl, the time to seek help is now. Each day you delay getting help is one step closer to becoming another painful statistic.


Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a powerful, synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. There are two types of fentanyl:

  1. Pharmaceutical fentanyl – Fentanyl is used to manage severe pain after surgery and in people with chronic pain who are tolerant to other opioids. Pharmaceutical fentanyl comes in many different forms, including an extended-release transdermal patch, lozenges, nasal spray, and more. This type of fentanyl can be safe if used as directed.
  2. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF) – IMF is manufactured in clandestine or illegal laboratories. Much of the IMF in the United States is manufactured overseas and smuggled into the states. This type of fentanyl is commonly found on the streets and is responsible for many opioid-related drug overdose deaths today.

The CDC reports that more than 150 people die each day as a result of an overdose involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl.[3]

Why is Fentanyl so Dangerous?

Fentanyl is inexpensive and produces very noticeable effects, making it a popular choice of adulterant for drug manufacturers and dealers. They may add fentanyl to their drugs to increase their supply and profits.

Fentanyl is so common in today’s drug supply that many dealers themselves don’t know what their drugs contain, and fentanyl contamination happens so easily because it looks much like other drugs, and it only takes a little bit to produce life-threatening side effects.

Potent and Lethal

Fentanyl is far more potent than other opioids, including heroin. People who do not have a tolerance to opioids can overdose by ingesting granule-sized amounts. Fentanyl can also be lethal in people who do have an opioid tolerance because it is difficult to tell exactly how much fentanyl a substance contains. Fentanyl test strips can detect fentanyl in substances, but they can’t tell you exactly how much.

Being so potent and lethal, it is extremely easy to overdose on fentanyl. Fentanyl is the leading cause of opioid overdoses today.

Difficult to Detect

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl usually comes in the form of a fine white powder. It can easily resemble cocaine, MDMA, and other illegal drugs. Fentanyl is also odorless and tasteless, making it hard to detect. And, unless you are using fentanyl test strips before taking drugs, it can be difficult to detect fentanyl in your substances.

Found in Other Illicit Drugs, Unknown by Users

Although some people who overdose on fentanyl intentionally seek out fentanyl because they have a tolerance to heroin or other opioids, many people who experience fentanyl overdoses do so accidentally. Because fentanyl is hard to detect and it is so prevalent in the drug supply, drug users may think they are taking cocaine or a prescription pill only to take fentanyl unknowingly and experience an overdose.

Fentanyl is often found in heroin, cocaine, meth, and pressed or fake prescription pills like Xanax. According to the DEA, 60% of fentanyl-laced prescription pills contain a lethal amount of the drug.[4]

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Common signs of fentanyl abuse and addiction include:

  • Pinpoint pupils and flushed skin
  • “Nodding out” or going back and forth between states of unconsciousness and semi-consciousness
  • Experiencing an opioid overdose
  • Lying to friends and family about drug use
  • Developing a tolerance that requires you to use larger amounts of drugs or more potent drugs to feel the desired effects
  • Having flu-like withdrawal symptoms if you stop using fentanyl
  • Putting your drug use ahead of more important responsibilities like work, school, or family
  • Having obsessive thoughts about drug use or cravings
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Loss of control over the frequency of your drug use
  • Continuing to use fentanyl or other drugs despite the problems your substance abuse is causing

Knowing how to spot the signs of addiction can help you or a loved one recognize when it’s time to get help. However, because of how deadly fentanyl is, abusing fentanyl in any way is a sign that you need professional treatment. Getting treatment could save your life.

Find Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction

When it comes to fentanyl, the decision between active addiction and professional treatment is truly life or death. Although asking for help with addiction can be scary, it’s the best thing you can do for your health and well-being.

At Woburn Wellness, our entire staff has the professional training necessary to guide each client to their highest potential through substance use disorder recovery.​ Whether it’s our Day Treatment Program, Intensive Outpatient Program, or Outpatient Services program, help with addiction is available at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment. Our multifaceted addiction treatment services are designed to help identify and diminish the compulsive obsession to use drugs and alcohol.

Don’t wait any longer. Call now to start your recovery at our treatment program for fentanyl addiction near Boston.



The Three Stages of Addiction: How to Get Treatment Before You Hit Rock Bottom

Addiction does not develop overnight. For some people, it takes several months or years to get addicted to something. For others, addiction can develop in just days or weeks. Regardless of how long it takes to get addicted, most individuals go through a three-phase cycle that ultimately leads to the development of substance use disorder or addiction.

This three-phase cycle consists of binging on a substance to feel its euphoric effects, coming down from the high and experiencing negative effects, and craving or looking forward to the next high. Drug users continue this cycle as their addiction gets worse until they hit rock bottom: in jail, in court-mandated treatment, or dead. Understanding these three stages of addiction can help friends and family understand what it’s like to be stuck in this devastating cycle–and how they can help an addicted loved one get out of it.

three stages of addictionStudy Reveals Three Stages of Addiction

Researchers’ work that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine describes addiction as a repeating cycle with three stages. According to their studies, each stage is associated with a different region of the brain. Understanding each of these stages and which areas of the brain are affected has helped health experts across the world gain a better understanding of addiction and how to treat it.[1,2]

The three stages of this cycle are as follows:

  1. Binge/intoxication – An individual consumes an intoxicating substance and experiences rewarding or feel-good effects. This stage is associated with the basal ganglia, an area of the brain associated with motivation, reward, habits, and routine behaviors.
  2. Withdrawal/negative affect – In the absence of a substance, an individual goes into a negative emotional or physical state. This stage is associated with the extended amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates the stress or “fight or flight” response and other bodily processes.
  3. Preoccupation/anticipation – After a period of abstinence, a person seeks substances again, and returns to the first phase of the cycle. This stage is associated with the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that is responsible for many cognitive processes like decision making, time management, emotions, and impulses.

The Three Stages of Addiction

Stage One: Binge and Intoxication

Addictive substances feel so good to the user because they release dopamine in the brain. The brain’s receptors register dopamine as a reward, so the brain and body view addictive drugs as rewards. After continued use, the brain begins to associate different aspects of a person’s life with substance use–usually people, places, and things–that can trigger thoughts of substance use or cravings when the person is exposed to them. People may find it increasingly difficult to function without their “drug of choice” in their system.

Stage Two: Withdrawal and Negative Affect

Although drugs impact the reward system and make people feel good, they also impair the brain and body at the same time. When drugs wear off, users may experience a “crash” or “comedown” where some uncomfortable symptoms occur. And, after long-term use, this crash or comedown period turns into full-blown withdrawal. Once the brain and body are dependent on a substance, the brain stays in an overactive state until the substance is consumed. This overactive state is when withdrawal symptoms–body aches, muscle pain, nausea, etc–rear their ugly heads.

Stage Three: Preoccupation and Anticipation

Uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms make the thought of using substances a desirable one. Users know that using their drug again will make the withdrawal symptoms disappear. Drug users begin spending more and more time thinking about using the drug, obsessing over using the drug, and having intense cravings that disrupt normal functioning. This mental obsession makes quitting addictive drugs extremely difficult.

When Should I Seek Treatment For My Addiction?

Addiction affects all areas of a person’s life. Regardless of which of the three stages of addiction you are caught up in, they are all a part of a cycle that doesn’t end without professional help.

The more often you abuse drugs, the faster your addiction will progress. In many cases, people don’t even realize they are addicted until they have reached a place of emotional despair. Leaving your addiction untreated can result in a variety of consequences, such as:

  • The inability to perform well at work or maintain your career
  • Damaged relationships
  • Health problems as a result of substance abuse
  • Financial problems
  • Legal consequences

The earlier you seek treatment, the easier it will be to stop using drugs and turn your life around. However, it’s never too late for treatment, either. You should seek help as soon as you are ready to do so.

Find Help Before It’s Too Late

According to recent data from the CDC, 2020 was the deadliest year in drug overdose deaths recorded in all time. Addiction is not a joke and it is nothing to take lightly. Last year alone, more than 93,000 individuals lost their lives due to drug overdose.[3] And, if you don’t get help sooner than later, you could end up becoming part of that statistic.

It’s never too early to get help. Here a Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we’ll meet you exactly where you are at and provide you resources to improve your life and work toward your goals. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve fallen or how far you think you have left to go–today is the day to get help. Contact us today to get started.



Is There a Difference Between Opioids and Opiates?

The terms opioids and opiates are often used interchangeably to refer to prescription pain-relieving drugs or narcotics. So is there actually a difference between the two? Opioids and opiates, although similar in function, include different drugs and have varying uses. Understanding the properties of both classifications of drugs is important as they are highly addictive drugs. Knowing how they work allows people to be aware of addiction risks as well as identify if they are abusing these drugs.

What are Opioids?

opioids vs opiates

Opioids include all classes of opioid pain relief drugs. This includes natural opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine.[1] It also includes synthetic or semisynthetic opioids, meaning those that are manufactured in a lab. Examples of synthetic and semisynthetic opioids include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone

Fentanyl and methadone are both approved for medical use in the United States, but there are labs across the country that produce them illegally.[2] When these drugs are administered in a medical setting, they are entirely synthetic. Ones produced illegally and sold on the streets are sometimes entirely synthetic and other times include synthetics or additives as well as natural opioids.

Synthetic opioids are more potent than their natural counterparts. They produce intense feelings of euphoria and relaxation in addition to the intended medical use of pain relief.[3] This higher potency increases the risk of accidental overdose and death. The opioid drugs that are produced and sold illegally are especially dangerous. This is because there is no quality control in the illegal labs, meaning other harmful substances are often found in those opioids.[2]

What are Opiates?

Opiates only include naturally occurring opioid drugs. This includes:

Natural opiates are a product of opium poppy flowers. The seeds of these flowers are used to extract opium, which is then manufactured into heroin, morphine, or codeine.[3] The terms “opiate” and “opioid” are used interchangeably only when referring to these naturally sourced drugs.[1]

Although these forms of opioids are less potent than their synthetic counterparts, they are still highly addictive. Opiates produce the same feelings of euphoria and overall well-being as all other opioids do.[3]

Is the Difference Between Opioids and Opiates Important?

Difference between Opioids and Opiates

There are no real important differentiating characteristics between opiates and opioids, as opiates are also included under the term, “opioid.” Both opiates and opioids act on the same part of the brain by blocking opiate receptors to reduce pain and produce feel-good sensations. The primary difference lies in whether or not these drugs are natural vs. synthetic, and, sometimes, that determines their potency.

Synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids are stronger than naturally produced opiates. This means that less of the drug is needed to produce the desired effect. However, this is incredibly dangerous where someone is abusing these drugs as they can accidentally overdose by taking too much of it. For example, fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is thought to be 50 times stronger than heroin, a naturally occurring opiate.[2]

Risk of Overdose with Synthetic Opioids

Accidental overdoses on synthetic opioids are an increasing problem in the United States. People buying drugs illegally on the streets do not always know what they are getting. Sometimes they think the drug is heroin, when in fact it is the much stronger fentanyl. They take the same amount of fentanyl as they would have heroin resulting in accidental overdose.[2]

Signs of Opioid and Opiate Addiction

There are signs that indicate if a person has developed an opioid addiction. Addiction occurs when a person takes these drugs on a regular basis for extended periods of time. Eventually, the body and brain get used to having opioids and develop a tolerance to them. This means that a person needs more and more drugs in order to achieve the desired effect.

Signs of opioid abuse or addiction include:

  • Strong cravings or urges to use opioids
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes

Another tell-tale sign of addiction is experiencing withdrawal symptoms when someone does try to quit using opioids. The occurrence of withdrawal symptoms means that a person is dependent on the drug. Withdrawal symptoms include:

withdrawal symptoms of opioid and opiate addiction

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Muscle pains
  • Anxiety

Getting Help for Opioid or Opiate Addiction

While opioid addiction is difficult and ruins countless lives, there is treatment available. A good treatment plan for overcoming opioid addiction includes medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation, and outpatient rehabilitation. During treatment, people will participate in different forms of therapy to determine the root cause of their addiction as well as learn coping mechanisms.

It is important to get help as soon as possible for opioid addiction. At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we strive to provide you with the best care possible. Our caring counselors work with you every step of the way to develop a treatment plan that suits your unique needs. With our help, you will be on the road to recovery from opioid addiction. Contact us today to get started with our opioid rehab program in Massachusetts.



Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment and Altruism

For the second year in a row, Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment has taken part in the Wonderfund Holiday Gift Drive. The Wonderfund is a private non-profit organization that works on behalf of the children engaged with the MA Department of Children and Families. The holiday drive aims to provide the 53,000 children involved with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF) with gifts to open during the holidays. This year, Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment was given the opportunity to help create magical holiday moments for 17 children.

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment and Altruism

Giving Back During the Holidays

Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment chose Wonderfund for a few reasons. Through our work, we see first-hand the impact of growing up with a parent who has substance use issues. For many children in DCF custody, their parents suffer from the disease of addiction and lost custody due to not being able to provide adequate care. Children can often be collateral damage on the path of destruction that addiction drives on.

Helping Those in Need During the Holidays

We see the trauma experienced by these children that can lead to a path of addiction themselves well into adulthood. Our team has worked with adults who have DCF involvement and are working towards gaining custody back through engagement in treatment and sustained recovery from substance misuse. In recovery, we talk about active addiction as a full-time job, and combining that with the full-time job of being a parent is often a recipe for disaster.

While many people have negative opinions regarding the involvement of DCF in families’ lives, the involvement of DCF allows parents to focus on their sobriety and learn the skills needed to be a parent. With the help of treatment providers, fellowship, and supportive DCF workers, individuals are able to learn the skills needed to balance being a parent in recovery.

Altruism: Selfless Concern for the Good of Others

In treatment, we often talk about the importance of giving back once we progress in our recovery. Practicing altruism means we develop a loving relationship with life that is not dependent on external conditions. Giving back allows us to offer the same help that has been essential to our own recovery. Altruism can leave us feeling energized and happy because it triggers the release of endorphins in the brain, a natural reward! When we help others, it allows us to express our attitude of gratitude for how far we have come and a reminder of where we once were.

As a team at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we find it is vital to practice what we preach to our clients. Altruism is an important value we hold here as a team. Being able to give back to a population impacted by the disease of addiction is important to us. Providing children within DCF gifts for the holidays through the Wonderfund has become a tradition here at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment.

From the team at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, we want to wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. Please reach out to us at or visit our contact page directly if we can be of any assistance during these times.

Warmest Regards,
Brittany King, LMHC

Woburn Wellness is Monitoring COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Dear patients, friends, families and community partners:

During these uncertain times in the wake of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we understand that information and communication regarding safety is on everyone’s mind. Our Team at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is committed and prepared to continue providing exemplary substance use disorder treatment in our outpatient facility. Together with our existing infection control policies, Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is monitoring local, state and federal guidelines regarding the Coronavirus pandemic in order to enhance efforts in keeping all patients under our care safe and healthy. Our physicians and clinical staff are following CDC guidelines and our drug & alcohol treatment facility has added additional screening measures for incoming and current patients, such as review of travel history, current health status and recent interactions with individuals who have been sick or traveled. The additional screening measures have been implemented in an effort to reduce those with flu-like symptoms from admitting to our facility. Our precautionary measures are aimed at proactively ensuring that all patients, families, visitors, and staff are healthy as we join the nationwide effort to contain COVID-19.

Latest COVID-19 Updates (3/13/20)

A top priority will always be to keep our patients and staff safe and healthy. Management and our Team at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment continue to monitor COVID-19 based on what we are learning daily about stopping the spread of the novel Coronavirus. For your safety, and the safety of all communities, if you are feeling sick, stay home and seek medical treatment when needed. In addition to our existing cleaning and disinfecting procedures, we have increased these measures, implementing routine disinfection of surfaces before and after every group throughout our day and evening IOP and treatment programming.

As we continue our fight against the addiction epidemic, we are closely following information and recommendations provided by the Centers for Disease Control and local public health authorities in order to plan and implement preventative measures against COVID-19. We are optimistic that the measures we have put in place will help ensure the health and safety of our patients, families, visitors, and staff. The Coronavirus pandemic is dynamic and the situation continues to change frequently. Rest assured, we are staying on top of the latest recommendations.

Our prayer is that the measures we all take together are effective as we join the nationwide fight against COVID-19 and reaffirm our fight against the spread of addiction. As a public reminder, the most important things individuals can do to prevent the spread of any illness is:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Wash your hands before and after you eat, cough, sneeze, use the bathroom, and when providing care to a patient.
  • Make sure you use soap and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (happy birthday song twice). If soap and water are not readily available, please use an alcohol-based sanitizer containing at least 60-95% alcohol. **For those in recovery, the use of alcohol-based sanitizers may bring up difficult thoughts, feelings, and behaviors so we encourage you to seek support and guidance with this precautionary measure.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue; if you don’t have a tissue, use the inside of your elbow.
  • Remember to wash your hands after you cough or sneeze.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth, germs often spread this way.
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning.
  • Frequently clean commonly used surfaces such as tables, doorknobs or handles, keyboards, remote controls, touched surfaces workstations and countertops. Disposable antibacterial wipes are a great way to perform this preventative measure.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at (781) 305-3071 around the clock and we will be glad to assist you. We are all in this together!

Be well,

Jodi Tarantino, MSW, LICSW
Executive Director

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

Culturally, the holiday season is regarded as the most wonderful time of the year. From endless Christmas movies with the same cheesy plotlines to social gatherings for work, family and friends, December’s activities are all centered around love, happiness and togetherness. But for many people, that’s not the reality of the holiday season. When you’re coping with a family member who has substance use disorder, recovering from grief, battling seasonal depression or experiencing other negative emotions, it’s not always easy to feel the holiday spirit.

If you feel more depressed, anxious and stressed around the holidays, you’re far from alone. There’s a social expectation to be jolly all month long, but it’s okay if you’re not in the spirit. The more important aspect to consider is how you cope with your emotions during the holidays. It’s less common for people to discuss feelings like sadness, loneliness and anger when the world is supposed to feel like a winter wonderland. But the team at our Greater Boston addiction treatment center wants you to know that there are ways to get through the holidays with your mental health intact.

How to Cope with Holiday Depression

There are a few things you can do to help mitigate sadness and anxiety around the holidays.

Open up about your depression to a trusted friend or family member.

Reach out to someone who is also struggling with holiday depression; empathy and commiseration can do wonders if you’re feeling isolated and alone.

Volunteer at an animal shelter or an organization that helps provide Christmas gifts and meals to local families.

Avoid triggering media like holiday music, movies and commercials. It’s okay to change the channel or radio station.

Allow yourself to set the boundaries to protect your mental health and take care of yourself. For example, attend holiday gatherings but don’t feel obligated to stay the entire time.

Focus on any little moments that bring joy.

Winter Weather Means Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Look around. Most people you see are experiencing seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Less sunlight and colder temperatures lead to feelings of isolation and melancholy, which can make symptoms of depression and drug addiction more prominent. Staying home and spending time alone becomes much more common for people dealing with SAD because it’s cold, dark and snowy outside. This cycle of depression and isolation can be difficult to break, and many people just wait for spring to arrive. SAD affects holiday depression and can increase how much you dread the season and want to disengage with loved ones and the world around you.

New Year, New Outlook
As the year ends, it’s often easier to look back on the past 12 months and see a long list of mistakes you’ve made or actions you’d like to change than reflect on the good memories. You might be feeling end-of-year remorse or regret as you listen to people you’re close to or follow on social media discuss their own successes or positive memories of the year. Many people approach the new year feeling like they’ve failed because they didn’t meet all the goals they set back in January.

Think of the new year as a new opportunity to reevaluate your goals, not a time to beat yourself up for unmet benchmarks. To start, think about what prevented you from achieving this year’s goals and use that insight to inform changes for the upcoming year. Maybe it makes sense to identify smaller steps you must take to reach overall goal, allowing you to create more feasible resolutions.

Loved Ones with Substance Use Disorder During the Holidays
Are you worried about attending or hosting holiday gatherings with loved ones who have substance use disorder? There may be an added layer of stress or concern around celebrations if there’s addiction in your family. It’s essential for you to set expectations and boundaries around drug and alcohol use before or during the events. Once you’ve clearly communicated these guidelines, keep in mind that you’re not responsible for their behavior and shouldn’t blame yourself for their actions.

While you can provide help and support for your loved ones dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, it’s not your fault if they don’t follow through on your requests. If necessary, discuss the expectations you’ve set with another relative or friend who can help you say “no” and stick to the boundaries when it becomes difficult.

The team at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is here if you’d like to discuss our Intensive Outpatient Program or other drug treatment options for your loved ones as we move forward into a new year. From outpatient alcohol rehab programs to evening IOP near Boston, MA, there are many ways for you or your loved one to start down the road of recovery today.

How Is the Community Combating Substance Abuse in the Boston Area?

New England continues to experience one of the worst drug abuse epidemics in the country. Millions of people in states like Massachusetts struggle with addictions to substances like prescription medications and opioids. To combat this growing problem, organizations throughout Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England continue to devise programs to help drug users and alcoholics. These programs are especially useful in metro areas like Boston where substance abuse continues to be one of the biggest public health risks.

Large-scale Response to Drug Use in Boston

Boston public health officials began to put together a large-scale response to the city’s substance abuse problem in October 2014. That month marked the beginning of a program that was designed to address every level of drug use as well as provide continued care and education to the general public.

The program labels all types of drug abuse as Substance Abuse Disorders or SUDs. The overall goal of the SUDs program aims to address SUDs at all level of the impact on health. It also is designed to offer primary continuity-based prevention of SUDs starting with early intervention and progressing to treatment of chronic disease management.

Levels of SUDs Program

Boston public health officials designed the SUDs program to encompass numerous levels in order to target the broadest scope of drug abusers in the area. The first level of the program is its inpatient component.

The inpatient component of the SUDs treatment and education program comprises of a multidisciplinary consultation team that provides patients with a variety of prompt and critical services. These services include:

Comprehensive evaluations

Treatment recommendations

Links to community and hospital-based resources

These services are rendered upon the admission of patients to a medical facility that participates in this community drug abuse treatment and education program.

The next level of the program is the SUDs bridge clinic. The bridge clinic is a transitional outpatient clinic designed to provide short term medical care for discharged patients and patients leaving the emergency room who do not yet have outpatient care services. It also will provide continued care for patients with SUDs until they can be linked to appropriate community outpatient services.

Recovery coaches are a key component to the community-based SUDs treatment and education program. Recovery coaches are actually peers who are in recovery themselves. They assist fellow patients who are in the process of working toward sobriety. They help patients overcome any barriers to substance abuse treatment, provide emotional support, and serve as key members of a patient’s care team.

This program additionally incorporates an enhanced health center treatment component. The health centers that participate in the program increase patients’ access to evidence-based treatment. The services in this component include:


Readiness services

Integrated mental health

Primary care around treatment of the patient’s substance abuse disorder

This component is closely linked to the program’s new opioid prescribing policies. These policies mandate more precise guidelines for safer prescription of opioids for chronic conditions. It includes taking inventory of inpatient opioid prescribing policies and has the ultimate goal of developing a standardized policy that can be utilized by all hospitals in Boston.

Implementing this policy ideally will be easier thanks to the discoveries made by the program’s research and evaluation component. Hospitals and medical researchers in conjunction with health officials continue to conduct clinical research and ongoing evaluation of comprehensive and integrated approaches to treating people with SUDs. The results they come up with ideally will influence treatment standards in Boston as well as in cities throughout New England.

The last component of the SUDs treatment and education program in Boston involves changing the culture of drug use. The culture change component utilizes all opportunities to not only inspire hope in patients but also motivate the overall caring for patients. It ideally will achieve this by shifting away from the historical component of SUDs and understanding that SUDs are chronic but highly treatable illnesses.

The SUDs treatment and education program in Boston is just one approach that public health officials now use to address the growing problem of drug use in New England. They appreciate that much of the problem that persists in Boston right now stems from the overprescribing of opiates.

While opiates have their rightful place in medicine, health officials hope to change the manner and frequency with which they are given to patients. This change could greatly reduce the number of people with SUDs in the region.

What Certifications Does an Addiction Treatment Center in the Northeast Need?

The state and national organizations both hold rehab facilities to the strictest of standards. These requirements are designed to protect patients who are admitted for care. They also ensure patients receive services that are worth the money and will actually guide them toward sobriety. In order for a recovery center to open, it must first pass a series of inspections and obtain the requisite licensing and certification. These certifications are awarded by both the state and agencies or commissions and are subject to constant scrutiny and renewal.

State Certification

Depending on in what state it plans to open and operate, a recovery center will need to pass numerous state inspections in order to obtain the required certifications. State inspections are typically similar to those conducted by federal investigators. However, they may be performed more frequently and closely scrutinize facilities within the actual building.

For example, state inspectors may closely examine facilities like the:


Dining area

Lobby or waiting area

Medication storage room and pharmacy

These areas of the recovery center are typically expected to be clean, organized, and safe. They may be examined on a monthly basis depending on the availability of state inspectors. If these areas fail to pass inspection, the facility may have its certification revoked. If it is a new facility waiting to open, it may be denied permission to admit patients until these areas are significantly improved.

Aside from inspecting service areas within the recovery center, state inspectors also will scrutinize its business practices. For example, the recovery center will be expected to employ a well-defined admittance process for all patients. Patients should clearly understand how to be admitted to the recovery center and also what will be expected of them during the time they are in care.

Further, the facility will also be expected to have an active liability insurance policy. This liability insurance protects the people admitted to the center for care. It also safeguards the people who work there in case of an accident.

Other requirements that rehab centers will need to satisfy include:

Submission of a floor plan

Certificate of occupancy

Passing a fire marshal inspection

Licensing for dispensation of medications

It could take weeks or months for a facility to obtain these credentials. However, once they are in place, the facility may be able to earn the state certifications needed to open to the public.

National Certifications

Like the state government, the treatment industry and insurance companies often require recovery centers to obtain credentials before opening to patients. Certifications typically focus on the people who will actually work at the facility. They also pay attention to the layout and design of the center so it can accommodate people with disabilities.

In particular, a rehab facility will be expected to be ADA-compliant and have walkways, doors, and other fixtures that meet these standards. People who are disabled and use mobility devices must be able to have access to the facility in the same manner as able-bodied patients.

Likewise, the federal government mandates that rehab facilities employ people who meet stringent federal hiring criteria. For example, doctors who want to work at the facility will need to be licensed by the state and also belong to the outlined medical organizations like the American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Nurses, pharmacists, and therapists who apply for work there also must be licensed by the state and be certified by the appropriate medical boards. They must keep their licenses current and also undergo training as required in order to maintain their employment in this area of medicine.

Stringent hiring criteria are also applied to people who are not medical professionals. People who apply to be housekeepers, cooks, and others must generally be at least 18 years of age and also have a GED or high school diploma. These credentials must be verified before these individuals can be hired to work at the rehab center.

Finally, people who want to volunteer at a recovery center are required to be supervised closely by doctors, nurses, therapists, and other medical professionals. The federal government requires volunteers to also pass background checks and pose no risk to the people who are admitted to the facility.

Recovery centers must obtain certifications from both the state and federal government in order to operate. If they fail to secure these credentials, they may be forced to close or be denied the right to open to the public. The credentials are reviewed on a regular basis and subject to renewal. 

A Generation of Addicted Kids

I am a part of the millennial generation that often gets a bad rep. Life was easy for me growing up. I had two parents that were together and worked hard to provide everything I needed and made sure I never went without. I made friends easy, fit in with my peers, but was uneducated on the illness of addiction. Both in and out of school, the depiction of a drug addict or an alcoholic was painted to me as someone who drank from a paper bag, used needles, smoked marijuana, was homeless and/or didn’t excel in school. For myself and many others, a drug addict was not supposed to be the aspiring athlete from the suburbs, the kid who got straight A’s, or the person from a nice family with no past trauma.

Oxycontin hit the streets and our grandparents medicine cabinets, which was and still is easily accessed by the younger generations. At the time, we had no ideas on the dangers of these pills, there was no real warnings from distributors, and they came from professional doctors who we trusted and not the drug dealer on the corner. It took me a long time and a lot of heartache on my family for me to come to terms and identify myself as an addict. On the outside I did not fit the “picture” of someone who goes to rehab, or detox, or someone who threw away every opportunity in life just to get my next “fix.” Purdue Pharma created a generation of zombies. Families are being torn apart and financial insecurities of our elders are growing because both death rates and overdoses have skyrocketed while Purdue Pharma continues to make millions and families are left the financial burdens of addiction. With recent lawsuits, Purdue Pharma will hopefully soon be penalized for marketing substances they knew were addictive.

My mission in life is to be a voice of recovery for my generation and make positive changes in the way people view addiction. Addiction is an illness and it should be known that it is not a personal choice. It is important for us to openly discuss addiction and to recognize that it does not discriminate. Addiction is in all of our neighbors, in most of our families, and comes in all different shapes and sizes. I strive to be a guiding light to everyone I encounter and hope to show them that they too can have a life substance free and can go on to help the next person suffering. You don’t have to struggle anymore, please reach out if you or someone you know is struggling with substance use disorder