Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug that is thought to be nearly 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. In the past, it has been used to treat severe pain during and after surgery or to help manage pain in chronically ill patients. However, illegally manufactured fentanyl (IMF) has increasingly infiltrated the drug supply across the United States.
Today, fentanyl is being found in all kinds of illicit drugs, ranging from heroin to counterfeit prescription pills and even marijuana. IMF is often added to substances because it is powerful and cheap, thereby increasing the potency of drugs while decreasing the price. Sadly, this dramatic spike in fentanyl abuse has contributed to a nearly 30% increase in opioid overdose deaths over the course of the last year.
With fentanyl abuse becoming more and more common, addiction treatment centers in the Boston area have begun offering individualized drug rehab programs to help those who are addicted to fentanyl. Fentanyl addiction treatment typically consists of detox, opioid treatment medications, counseling, and psychosocial support.
First Things First: Medical Detox for Fentanyl Addiction
As an opioid, fentanyl is mentally and physically addictive. Just hours after a person takes their last dose, they will go into opioid withdrawal. Fentanyl withdrawal is characterized by flu-like symptoms that can range from mild to severe. Patients may experience body aches, muscle pain, sweating, chills, nausea, and vomiting. They may also struggle with intense drug cravings and urges to continue using fentanyl.
People who seek treatment for fentanyl addiction in the Boston area will begin their journey with medical detox. During opioid detox, doctors and nurses can treat the symptoms of withdrawal, provide emotional support, monitor patients’ vitals, and help reduce the risk of relapse. Doctors may also prescribe opioid replacement medications such as buprenorphine or methadone to help wean individuals off of opioids more slowly, thereby reducing the severity of withdrawal symptoms and alleviating drug cravings.
Most patients spend 3-7 days in detox before transitioning to an inpatient or outpatient fentanyl addiction treatment program.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Fentanyl Addiction
The majority of fentanyl addiction treatment centers in the Boston area use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help individuals overcome opioid use disorder. MAT refers to an approach combining medications, behavioral therapy, and counseling. According to SAMHSA, MAT is thought to provide a more comprehensive, individually-tailored, and whole-person approach compared to traditional treatment methods.
Buprenorphine and naltrexone are the two most widely used medications to treat fentanyl addiction. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist-antagonist that helps reduce symptoms of withdrawal and drug cravings. It comes in a monthly injection called Sublocade, a daily pill called Subutex, or a daily sublingual/buccal film called Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone). Naltrexone, on the other hand, is an opiate antagonist that blocks opioid receptors and reduces drug cravings. It comes in the form of a daily pill called ReVia or a monthly injection known as Vivitrol.
These medications are used alongside behavioral therapy and counseling to address the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of addiction and recovery. When combined with an individualized treatment program, MAT can improve treatment retention rates and treatment outcomes, reduce the risk of overdose, and help patients successfully overcome their addictions.
Individualized Counseling and Evidence-Based Therapy
Medications alone cannot treat fentanyl addiction. They simply treat the physical and some of the mental aspects of addiction. Counseling, on the other hand, helps patients recognize and overcome the underlying causes of their substance abuse. For instance, some people abuse drugs to cope with trauma. Others abuse drugs to cope with mental illness. These underlying conditions must be treated thoroughly in order for patients to stay sober.
When patients arrive at a fentanyl addiction treatment program near Boston, they will meet with members of the clinical team for a comprehensive assessment. This assessment helps the clinical team determine their unique needs and requirements for treatment. The clinical team develops a custom-tailored treatment plan for each individual that outlines the various therapies, goals, and topics that need to be covered.
Depending on the patient’s needs, they may participate in any or all of the following types of counseling and therapy:
- Behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), and contingency management (CM)
- Holistic therapies such as yoga, meditation, nutritional counseling, and art therapy
- Family therapy
- Recreational or adventure therapies that involve healing with nature or play
- Mental health counseling
- Trauma therapy or trauma-informed care
- Relapse prevention therapy
Counseling sessions are held in both groups and one-on-one settings. Most of the time spent in rehab is spent engaging in some type of therapeutic healing.
A Long-Term Plan to Overcome Fentanyl Addiction: Drug Rehab Aftercare
Addiction is a chronic and progressive illness. Like other chronic conditions, it cannot be cured, even with counseling and medication. However, it can be treated and managed on a long-term basis. Before leaving rehab, patients meet with their substance abuse counselor to create a detailed relapse prevention and aftercare plan that helps address their specific needs.
For example, a person who doesn’t have safe, supportive, and sober housing to go back to may be referred to a sober living facility. While staying in sober living, he or she will get a job, save money to rent or purchase a home in the future, and establish a firm foundation in recovery.
Other types of aftercare that may be valuable while in recovery from fentanyl addiction include:
- Alumni programs
- 12-Step groups (AA, NA, CA, etc.)
- SMART Recovery
- Individual counseling
- Recovery coaching
- Medication management
Find Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction in the Boston Area Today
Fentanyl is not only addictive, it is also dangerous. Just a tiny amount can lead to an overdose or death. If you are using drugs of any kind, you could even find yourself accidentally using fentanyl and experiencing an overdose. The best way to stay safe is to find help for substance abuse.
If you or a loved one are addicted to fentanyl, you’ve come to the right place. Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment offers fentanyl addiction treatment programs in the Boston area that can provide you with the support you need. Don’t wait any longer. Call now to speak with an addiction specialist to see if our opioid rehab program is right for you.