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By Tim L | 18 September, 2019 Published in Guides
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Fentanyl is a prescription opioid similar to morphine, which is used to treat severe pain from surgery or chronic illnesses such as cancer.

Fentanyl is sometimes administered to patients who experience adverse effects from other prescription opioids.

Just like with other synthetic opioids, fentanyl is very potent. In fact, the drug is believed to be 100 times more potent than morphine.

For this reason, fentanyl is meant to be administered in very small amounts.

However, profit-hungry pharmaceutical companies have over the years misinformed the medical fraternity as well as the general public, on the dangers of the drug.

As a result, doctors and other medical practitioners have ended up consciously or unconsciously catalysing the opioid crisis.

The number of fatalities related to fentanyl abuse and overdose has increased in the past few years.

This is mainly attributed to the fact that the drug can be purchased as prescription medicine over the counter in pharmacies.

However, in recent years, many unlicensed laboratories have sprung up which manufacture more potent and deadlier fentanyl.

Some of these illegal laboratories create highly potent derivatives of fentanyl which are hazardous to users.

Reports indicate that much of the fentanyl which is sold in the black market is not genuine. The drug is often mixed with other narcotics like heroin and cocaine, a fact which makes its use even more life-threatening for users.

How Is Fentanyl Administered?

Fentanyl can be administered in different ways, including injections, smoking, snorting and orally in the form of lozenges or lollipops. The drug is also commonly ingested in the form of fentanyl patches.

Ingesting the drug transdermally using patches is popular with users because it allows for a slow release of fentanyl into the body. Usually, a fentanyl patch can be used for up to three days before it is replaced.

Sometimes even discarded fentanyl patches contain significant amounts of the drug which abusers often collect to reuse.

What are the Effects of Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is meant to be administered medically to patients suffering from chronic pain. Essentially, it works (on the brain) by changing the way the body responds to pain.

Due to its potency, fentanyl should only be administered as prescribed by and under the observation of a medical professional.

However, many people develop a dependency on the drug and end up abusing it.

Patients who ingest fentanyl usually experience the following side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Dry Mouth
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Tense muscles

The risk of overdose from fentanyl is very high compared to other drugs.

Chewing fentanyl patches is especially risky since it releases large amounts of the drug at once.

Some of the symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • Difficulty in breathing/shortness of breath
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment and memory loss
  • Loss of balance and coordination
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Slowed down heartbeat

It is absolutely necessary for a fentanyl overdose to be treated swiftly. Otherwise, it could easily lead to death.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl abuse is a risky behaviour, which can be fatal if not managed on time.

For this reason, it is important to identify the signs and symptoms of addiction as soon as they present themselves.

If you suspect that a loved one may be struggling with fentanyl abuse, here are the signs and symptoms that you need to watch out for:

  • Consuming more than the prescribed dosage of the drug
  • Taking the drug for periods longer than the stipulated
  • Inability to cut back or give up the use of the substance
  • Persistent use of the drug even when it negatively affects their health
  • Going to extreme lengths to find the drug
  • Willingness to use the drug even if it puts them in dangerous situations
  • Uncontrollable craving for the drug
  • Tolerance for the drug
  • Inability to perform duties and take care of responsibilities
  • Giving up personal hobbies and interests in favour of drug use

Reasons Why Fentanyl Abusers May Avoid Drug Recovery Programmes

It is essential for persons suffering from fentanyl addiction to receive rapid medical assistance to boost their chances of recovery and reduce the risk of overdose.

There are many drug recovery institutions and rehab centres which are equipped with the necessary skills to help fentanyl addicts recover.

However, many abusers of the drug usually avoid drug recovery programmes due to the following reasons:

  • Fear of social stigma associated with being in drug rehabilitation
  • Misguided beliefs that the addiction can be overcome by will-power alone
  • Financial constraints which make rehab seem impossible or impractical (too expensive)
  • Fear of being vulnerable and opening up to people
  • Fear of losing their job in the event that their employer finds out about the addiction problem.

Although many of these fears may be justified, avoiding rehabilitation can significantly hinder the recovery of a fentanyl addict.

Drug recovery programmes, on the other hand, provide fentanyl abusers with the support that is required for complete recovery.

It is therefore essential to encourage addicts of this highly potent opioid to seek medical assistance through rehab centres.

Treatments Available for Fentanyl Abusers and Addicts

Contrary to popular belief, not all drug recovery programmes require inpatient admission.

As a matter of fact, there are many programmes which only require regular attendance and participation in group therapy.

Typically, the right rehab programmes for a fentanyl addict is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • The cost of the programmes and how much they are willing and/or able to pay
  • The level of treatment that is required
  • How comfortable the recovering addict is with the rehab programmes

If you know someone who is struggling with fentanyl abuse and addiction, here are some of the drug recovery programmes which may be available to them:

1. Inpatient Programmes

This rehabilitation option usually requires the recovering patient to live in the rehab facility and participate in all individual and group counselling sessions.

This is usually recommended for addicts whose addiction has reached a critical level and poses a risk of fatality.

Depending on the severity of the case, and how the patient responds to treatment, a residential programme may last up to 90 days.

2. Outpatient Programmes

Recovering fentanyl abusers may also choose to rehabilitate in an outpatient program which allows them to receive treatment while at home.

Usually, individuals in outpatient programs are required to only avail themselves for treatment for a few hours every week.

3. Medical Intervention

Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid, which makes it very difficult to get rid of.

Many people who struggle with fentanyl abuse usually experience very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when they first try to quit.

In such cases, monitored detoxification is performed on the patients at the drug rehab centres to help alleviate the withdrawal effects.

4. Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is usually administered to all fentanyl users in most drug rehab centres.

Typically, a recovering patient will be required to meet a certified drug abuse counsellor to help them work through their harmful practices, and learn better coping mechanisms.

5. Group Therapy

Group therapy involves periodic meetings where recovering drug abusers work with a counsellor in a group setting.

Group therapy is vital when it comes to rehabilitating addicts of fentanyl, as it provides a supportive environment for them to share their experiences with others.

In addition to this, recovering addicts also get the chance to create meaningful connections with others.

Qualities of an Effective Fentanyl Addiction Recovery Programme

To increase the chances of recovery, fentanyl abusers should be admitted to a holistic recovery programme. Whereas therapy can go a long way in helping patients come off the drug, the skills they learn will determine how well they live their lives after recovery.

For this reason, it is very vital for the drug recovery programme of choice to be well suited to the challenge.

Some of the things to look for in a drug recovery programme include:

1. Professional Counselors

The right drug recovery programme should have certified and experienced counsellors who understand the problem and are well- equipped with the skills to tackle them.

Many professional counsellors also tend to be more empathetic and willing to assist recovering patients without judgment.

Upholding the dignity of recovering fentanyl addicts improves their confidence and boosts their chances of complete recovery.

2. Capacity to Deal with Dual Diagnosis

Fentanyl addiction is closely related to mental health problems. This is due to the fact that most people who abuse the drug do so seeking escape from their personal problems.

Finding a rehab programme which can deal with dual diagnosis is therefore very essential to the recovery of a fentanyl addict.

3. Ability to Adjust Treatment When Required

All fentanyl addictions are unique, and therefore proper treatment needs to be carefully determined if you want to achieve positive results.

Typically, a fentanyl addiction rehab should be able to monitor the progress of its patients and modify the treatment according to the requirements of the patient.

4. Use of Evidence-based Therapy

In order to increase the effectiveness of rehabilitation, the therapy administered to recovering patients should be evidence-based.

Science-based therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy are aimed towards helping recovering fentanyl addict develop healthy responses to stressors.

The Role of AfterCare in Drug Addiction Recovery

Many recovering addicts of fentanyl often relapse into addiction due to lack of aftercare.

The reason for this is that many recovering fentanyl addicts wrongly assume that they have been completely cured once they are released from rehabilitation.

The truth of the matter, however, is that fentanyl addiction is a problem that may recur in the lives of users even decades after rehabilitation.

Due to the chronic nature of addiction, however, many recovered addicts might fall into addiction several times over the course of their lives. In light of this, aftercare is absolutely necessary for recovering fentanyl addicts.

Aftercare usually involves a form of continuous treatment which is administered to recovering fentanyl patients after they are discharged from the drug rehab centre.

Some of the aftercare options which are available to recovering fentanyl addicts include:

1. Individual Therapy

It is important for a recovering addict to attend individual therapy sessions even after completing initial treatment. This allows them to continue developing their coping skills, and learn how to deal with stressors.

2. Group Counselling

Once a recovering addict has been discharged from the rehab centre, they should continue to work with their group therapist and others to learn useful skills to ensure they do not relapse.

3. 12 Step Programmes

12 step programmes are fellowships, which are designed to create a comfortable environment where recovering addicts can share their experiences. This can significantly boost their confidence, help them find their own inner voice and enable them to become more expressive of themselves.

How Much Does Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction Cost?

The cost of treatment for fentanyl addiction can vary widely, depending on several factors. These include the severity of the addiction as well as the treatment programme selected.

Inpatient recovery programmes are usually costly, as they require for the patient to be hosted in the rehabilitation. This includes costs of essentials such as food, utilities and medication administered.

The total cost of treatment in an inpatient programme is typically very high compared to an outpatient programme.

Outpatient recovery programmes tend to be very cheap. Some rehab centres may even provide services for free. However, outpatient programmes are recommended only for people with more manageable addictions.

Recovering fentanyl addicts who have ample financial resources at their disposal may also choose to rehabilitate in a private luxury recovery centre.

Whereas luxury rehab centres tend to be very costly, they typically offer much better services and more freedom for residents.

What are the Necessary Steps to Take When Seeking Recovery From Fentanyl Addiction?

Many addicts to fentanyl usually don’t worry about getting addicted when trying it out for the first time. However, once hooked, it can be a very dangerous, life-threatening habit.

For this reason, it is crucial to seek rehabilitation immediately.

Here are the necessary steps that one needs to take in order to rehabilitate properly, and fully rid themselves of their addiction:

1. Making the Decision

Before any recovery can begin, one needs to realise and accept that they have an addiction problem.

Many drug addicts tend to fall into a spiral of denial, which only delays treatment, and makes the problem worse. It is therefore important for a person seeking recovery to admit that the problem exists and to make the resolve to get help.

2. Finding the Right Rehab Programmes

Once the choice has been made, the next thing is to find the right recovery programmes for your condition. There are plenty of rehab facilities which offer affordable treatment for people struggling with fentanyl addiction.

One should also take into account several other factors like the treatments offered and the location of the facility to determine the right option for them.

3. Completing the Intake Assessment

After a rehab facility has been selected, it is important for one to complete an intake assessment. This helps the rehab facility determine the treatment options available for them.

4. Attending Therapy Sessions

A recovering fentanyl addict should make a resolution to attend all therapy sessions as recommended by their counsellor. This includes individual therapy and group therapy sessions.

It may be hard for an addict to attend therapy sessions due to the difficult emotions which have to be processed. Nevertheless, doing so allows them to get to the root causes of their addiction hence learn how to deal with them.

5. Aftercare Planning

After treatment has been completed, one should start planning their lives, post-rehabilitation. This enables them to continue learning and developing skills to help them cope better with life’s problems, and avoid relapses.

How Effective are Drug Rehabilitation Institutions?

The effectiveness of drug rehabilitation facilities in treating fentanyl addiction has been a matter of interest for many researchers.

Numerous studies of addiction treatment have reported that recovery programmes are successful in helping addicts get off drugs.

It has also been proven that aftercare treatment increases the chances of complete recovery.

Many people who complete recovery programmes at rehab centres and continue with aftercare, usually go on to lead healthy and successful lives.

What are some General Rules to Observe In a Drug Rehab Center?

While many rehab centres tend to be strict on the rules of conduct, there are still others which offer their patients much more freedom.

It is always advisable to find out the rules beforehand to avoid misconduct.

Here are some of the general rules which you are expected to observe as a resident of a drug rehab centre.

  • No drugs and alcohol allowed on the premises
  • Inpatient residents must stay in the institution unless they are issued a special pass
  • Clients are required to attend all therapy sessions
  • Clients can only receive permitted visitors
  • Clients must agree to be tested for drugs

A Final Word

Drug addiction is a problem which millions of people face all over the world. Sometimes, what starts as a simple fun experiment goes on to become a dangerous addiction, which puts the lives of abusers at risk.

It is therefore very important for users of all drugs including opioids like fentanyl to seek treatment as swiftly as possible.

With the right assistance and rehabilitation, it is possible for any fentanyl addict to completely recover and live a healthy life.

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