Fentanyl Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Where to Get Help for Fentanyl Addiction/Substance Abuse

In the United Kingdom, there are growing concerns about a looming opioid crisis. (1, 2) Fentanyl is arguably the strongest opioid currently on the market. Just three milligrams of the drug can kill a fully-grown man. (3) Fentanyl is a man-made opioid that mimics the effects of natural opiates such as opium or heroin. Opiates work by emulating endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers.

Anyone concerned that they or a loved one is abusing fentanyl must seek medical assistance. While this drug can be obtained legally, it is strictly only intended for use by those suffering from chronic pain.

Even for those with a prescription, using more than prescribed, using someone else’s prescription or taking the drug for longer than advised is drug abuse. Treatment should be sought at a facility that offers therapy and medication to aid withdrawal and prevent relapse.

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Importance of treating fentanyl addiction & when to seek treatment

Fentanyl can be dangerous and addictive. It should only be used by people who have obtained a prescription from a doctor. It is predominantly used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain relating to terminal illness. Its strength makes it highly effective at treating breakthrough pain, an extreme pain that occurs despite the use of regular painkillers. (4) Many people are concerned that it is flooding the illegal market and contributing to an opioid epidemic in the UK.

If someone is using fentanyl without a prescription, drug rehabilitation should be the first priority. Fear of withdrawal symptoms can be a main contributing factor in people not seeking help. A detoxification programme at a respected rehabilitation centre can offer medication that quells the symptoms. These are delivered at tapering doses until the service user is ready to quit completely. Group therapy, individual therapy and activities also play a key role in the recovery process.

Understanding fentanyl addiction treatment and rehab options

As an opiate, fentanyl is a Class A drug. If someone is caught with the drug, they can face up to seven years in prison for possession alone. Due to the strength of the drug, being caught with as little as one gram could be classed as enough for a court to prosecute for intent to supply. An intent to supply charge can also be dealt to someone who passes the drug among friends. The penalty for supplying Class A drugs is life imprisonment. (5)

Any individual who uses fentanyl in any manner other than that which is intended for is putting themselves at imminent risk of death or a lengthy prison sentence. The service user is not at risk of being prosecuted if they are in rehab and not in possession of fentanyl. Due to the extremity of the withdrawal symptoms, a medically assisted rehabilitation programme is the only option for some.

  • Charities
  • NHS Options
  • Private Rehab
  • Residential Care
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Private rehab vs free treatment options for fentanyl addiction

In the United Kingdom, there are no designated public health service residential rehabilitation centres. Patients who seek treatment on the NHS are usually put on a waiting list for funded treatment at a private clinic. (6) These waiting lists can be lengthy, and people often wait several months for treatment. With a substance as potent and life-destroying has fentanyl has the potential to be, a few months can be the difference between life and death.

If an individual opts for private rehab, they also benefit from being able to do their own research and choose the clinic for themselves. There are a number of private options available, and those seeking care should look for a comfortable, well-maintained facility fully equipped with a specialist team. It is important that therapy is a prominent aspect of care and that the centre is regulated by the quality care commission.

Executive/luxury rehab programmes for fentanyl addiction

Recovering from addiction to a debilitating drug such as fentanyl can be stressful and difficult. For some people, luxurious surroundings can make the process a little easier. Small details like en-suite facilities, extra privacy, luxurious meals and plush surroundings can make a month-long stay at rehab more comfortable. The level of luxury varies depending on cost, but most rehabilitation centres in the UK offer a high standard of care with well-maintained facilities.

What Happens in Fentanyl Rehab?

It is of utmost importance that someone who is seeking treatment should be absolutely ready and accept that they have a problem that is out of control. If an individual is urgently compelled to take the drug once its effects have started wearing off and use of fentanyl has affected their ability to function in day-to-day life, they are almost certainly addicted.

The first thing that happens when anyone gets treated for addiction to fentanyl is a full assessment. This helps clinical staff to gain an understanding of the client’s medical needs and ensure that treatment is tailored to each person’s individual circumstances.

The service user must then go through detoxification. During this stage, they are offered a course of medical and psychological treatment to taper them off the drug and dampen withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl rehab admission process

The process of getting admitted to rehab is simple and quick if the sufferer decides on private care. The service user contacts their facility of choice, arranges when they wish to start treatment and then makes payment. It is explained to the service user that physical addiction must first be addressed in the form of fentanyl detoxification. Once this process is complete, through therapy the individual addresses what has driven them to substance abuse and learns new methods for coping.

Fentanyl addiction assessment

First, a pre-admission assessment is carried out to get an understanding of the individual’s using pattern. Once admitted, a full assessment of the physical and mental health of the service user is undertaken in view of devising a bespoke treatment plan. This is often done by more than one doctor, and there is usually a large team of medical practitioners behind the scenes. A broad range of medical opinions can be very useful in treating a disease as subjective as addiction.

Acceptance of the problem

Acceptance is often seen as the most important stage in recovery. This is thought to be because addiction can create an effect very similar to psychosis in many individuals. This psychosis is partly a result of intercepted neurological pathways that cause the user to crave the substance and prioritise obtaining it above anything else. When someone with a substance dependence disorder accepts that they have a problem, they are accepting reality and ready to overcome it. (7)

Medically assisted/controlled detoxification

Certain substance abuse disorders such as alcoholism and opiate addiction physically require the individual to undergo a medically supervised detox. The body becomes dependent on fentanyl to release endorphins. If the drug is stopped immediately, the body’s adrenal system goes into overdrive and can cause the individual to go into shock. (8) Often, weaker opioids are used at decreasing doses until the person is tapered off the drugs entirely.
There are non-medical options for opiate treatment, as well as treatments that use drugs that are non-opioid. The effectiveness of these methods can vary, with the most successful results seen in those who undergo a medically assisted detox. (9)

Rehabilitation

Rehab is the stage that the individual enters once they have completed a successful detoxification programme. The individual attends therapy sessions in a group or one-on-one and looks at ways to cope with their struggles other than by using harmful substances. The days are usually regimented, and the process reintroduces routine and order into lives that have usually been discombobulated by addiction.
An average day may involve waking up early, completing daily chores, attending group activities and eating balanced, healthy meals in a social setting. Attendees are also required to carry out daily chores and have an input in the general upkeep of the area. This type of facility tries to ensure that service users are learning skills that can be transferred into their everyday lives upon successful completion of a rehab program.

Recovery

Recovery is an ongoing process, and regular follow-up care is recommended for anyone who successfully completes the rehab programme. Recovery is about more than just stopping the cycle of addiction for most people; it involves learning new behaviours and reprogramming neural pathways. This can be supported through therapy, group meetings, a healthy social life and gainful employment.

What Is an Inpatient Rehab Programme?

Inpatient rehab, also known as residential rehab, is where the service user stays in a facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the duration of the programme.

This type of treatment is strongly recommended for those whose addiction is having a significant impact on their ability to function. The length of use and how heavy a user the person is can also dictate whether inpatient or outpatient rehab is more suitable.

Types of therapy offered to patients

Most rehabilitation centres offer a range of therapy and choose which is best for the individual based on medical assessments. In terms of fentanyl addiction, there is a range of medical and complementary treatments that can be helpful in overcoming the addiction. The preferences of the service user are always taken into account, and the type of therapy offered may change depending on how the person responds.

The aim for therapy for opiate addiction is to explore the causes behind the drug-taking behaviour. Once these triggers are established, the therapist and the individual can work through trying to find alternative coping methods. Operant conditioning therapy is sometimes deployed, whereby the person in recovery is rewarded for incremental periods of abstinence. (10) Specific types of therapy may include:

  • Dialectical behavioural therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Contingency management
  • 12-step therapy
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Drama
  • Equine therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Meditation
  • Yoga

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

In outpatient rehab, the service user attends rehab during the day and spends evenings and weekends at home.

This can be an effective method of treatment for people who realise they have a problem during the early stages of addiction. People who have been using longer may find the temptation to obtain the substance while at home overwhelming. The home environment can be rife with triggers that someone beginning their journey of recovery may find too difficult to resist.

Day programmes

This is the main type of care offered for free on the NHS. The individual seeking treatment usually spends between three and five days at the facility and is usually able to continue with their day-to-day life. It may not be suitable for those who are suffering from a severe addiction to have infrequent access to care, so this type of rehab is recommended for people who are in the initial stages of a substance abuse disorder.

Intensive outpatient programs

The service user spends most of their time in the facility and has access to most of the same aspects of treatment as someone in residential rehab. It has been found that those who attend inpatient programmes develop closer bonds with the clinical staff. This leads to a greater level of trust in the care they are receiving and enables them to open up more during therapy. (11)

Ongoing care

This type of outpatient care is advised for anyone who has attended any form of rehabilitation programme. Those who maintain clinical attendance following treatment are more likely to remain abstinent for longer periods of time. While rehab gives a person the tools to overcome their addiction, ongoing care helps them to maintain their recovery and avoid relapse. Regular therapy sessions can help someone identify when their thoughts or behaviour are becoming concerning. (12)

How Is Medication Used to Treat Fentanyl Addiction?

As an opioid, fentanyl is one of the most physically and mentally addictive substances known. As such, medication is usually required in order to detoxify an individual. Compared to other drugs that are abused, there are a wide range of medications that can treat opioid addiction. The type chosen depends on the circumstances of the individual and will be decided by an experienced medical professional.

Medications used in addiction treatment & rehab

Some of the drugs used are weaker opioid agonists that are administered in doses high enough to curb withdrawal symptoms but not high enough to cause a high. Some of the drugs available to those with stronger addictions may offer a stronger opiate agonist but offset this with an opioid antagonist, such as buprenorphine/naloxone. (13)

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorphine (Buprenex)
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Modafinil (Provigil)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Bupropion (Buproban)
  • Gabapentin (Fanatrex)
  • Vigabatrin (Sabril)
  • Baclofen (Kemstro)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)

Psychotherapy for Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

The most effective form of treatment for long-term opiate abuse has been demonstrated as a mixture of medically assisted detox and psychosocial intervention.

Some people believe they are cured as soon as they have been through detox, and this is often not the case. There is usually an underlying psychological or behavioural issue that causes the individual to spiral into addiction. Addressing the reasons why the person started using is essential to avoiding relapse. (14)

Coping-focused psychotherapy

It has been demonstrated that attitude and coping strategies can have a considerable impact on a person’s tendency towards risky behaviour such as opioid substance abuse. Dysfunctional methods of coping are thought to predispose a person towards depressive behaviour and psychological disorders. (15) This form of therapy is focused on teaching the service user new methods of coping that lead to long-term successes.
These types of therapy are often talking-based. The therapist usually encourages the client to explore their childhood experiences and then helps them to understand how experiences can lead to maladaptive behaviours.

Social skills/interpersonal/growth psychotherapy

More often than not, people who suffer from an addiction to opioids have low self-worth. This type of therapy aims to address what has caused these feelings of low self-worth and to help the individual stop behaviour that perpetuates this attitude. It also encourages them to make active lifestyle changes that encourage a healthier psychosocial outlook. The therapist helps the client to resolve four key issues that can contribute to substance abuse:

  • Interpersonal deficits
  • Managing unresolved emotions
  • Transitional factors
  • Conflicting expectations (16)

Exploratory psychotherapy

This type of therapy is also known as psychodynamic therapy. During a session, the therapist focuses on aspects of the self that may be unknown to the individual. Special attention is paid to the way the individual’s unconscious processes manifest in the therapeutic relationship, as well as how they describe external sources. Evidence suggests that while this is a short-term method of therapy, the service user usually experiences long-term gains from it. (17)

This type of therapy goes far beyond the immediate control of substance misuse. It helps the client to achieve a deeper awareness of their motivations, conflicting ideas, unconscious desires and all-around self-awareness. (18)

Types of psychotherapy used in fentanyl addiction treatment

The reasons why someone would develop an addiction to harmful substances such as fentanyl are complex and varied. As such, there is a range of types of therapy available. If one form of therapy doesn’t work for one individual, it may prove highly effective for another person who is demonstrating identical symptoms. Honesty during pre-assessments is therefore integral to ensure the person gets the best possible care for their individual circumstances.

Different forms of therapy may be more effective for different people, even if they are suffering from the same problem. There is no single method that works best at treating fentanyl addiction, so open communication between the service user and the clinical team is integral. By giving feedback about how useful therapy is, people can get access to something more suitable for them or continue along the same course if the feedback is positive.

  • ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy)
  • Art therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Counselling
  • Dialectical behaviour therapy
  • Experiential therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Fitness therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Holistic therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Meditation
  • Music therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy

The Recovery Process

Most forms of therapy accept that understanding childhood experiences and trauma is an important step in building a framework for recovery. It is thought that the brains of people who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders have formed maladaptive neural pathways. A substance abuse disorder is a behavioural disorder with its roots in the individual’s psyche. (17)

Psychiatrists believe that in the same way as negative patterns of behaviour are learned, healthier patterns can be taught. Recovery is the process of retraining the brain to more positive adaptive behaviours. This usually involves exploring a person’s past experiences, putting them into context and learning how this actively affects their behaviour. Therapists then work closely with the client to develop new coping strategies, based on human development theories.

Elements of recovery

When treating someone who has suffered from a severe problem with substance abuse, it is important to rebuild the foundations of that individual’s psyche. This involves taking them through the processes that happened during their psychological development and reinforcing any weaknesses that are highlighted. Once they understand these, they can work towards helping themselves.

It is important people don’t depend on the medical system to cure them but see recovery as an ongoing process of which they are in charge.
There is no universally accepted definition for recovery, and it can mean something different to everyone. The elements of recovery have been formulated to help rebuild the framework required to be a resilient person with healthy coping strategies.

There is a growing amount of research to support the theory that demonstrates the effectiveness of ongoing self-management alongside clinical support.

  • Developing hope
  • Secure base
  • Sense of self
  • Supportive relationships
  • Empowerment
  • Social inclusion
  • Coping skills
  • Giving meaning

How Long Are Fentanyl Rehab Programmes?

A full treatment programme for those who are suffering from fentanyl addiction usually lasts for around one month. This often involves 10-14 days of detoxification to physically purge the drug from the system. Once the body and mind are clear of the substance, a rehab programme commences in order to address the underlying causes that led to the person becoming addicted and preventing relapse. There is also a form of residential aftercare available to people who have successfully completed a rehabilitation programme called a sober living house. People can stay here for as long as they need to and have access to 24-hour care, seven days a week. This can be an excellent option for people who have suffered from long-term addictions and need a clean, sober environment in which to continue their recovery.

This type of facility has been proven as one of the most effective at helping people remain abstinent upon successful completion of detox and rehab. The service user has access to therapy and medication (if necessary) and must carry out compulsory activities in a structured environment. There is access to resources to help them find work, education courses and housing. Sober living helps people to rebuild their lives under the supervision that is sometimes lacking in their lives. (19)

What Does Fentanyl Rehab Cost in the UK?

Due to the complexity of treatment required for people who are suffering from fentanyl addiction, rehabilitation is not cheap.

A month-long stay in rehab for overcoming opiate addiction is £4,000 to £6,000. While there are free outpatient treatments available on the NHS, there are often long waiting lists, and people may not respond as well to treatment in a non-residential setting.

The cost of rehab covers qualified clinical staff, medication, various forms of therapy, exercise facilities and nutritious meals and often covers certain aspects of follow-up care. The cost is also related to the level of care and luxury available in the facility.

Selecting a budget option for rehabilitation may result in access to inferior treatment, less experienced staff and a lower quality of life while residing in the facility. This could lead to repeated stints in rehab whereby the cost ends up being equivalent to the initial cost of a more luxurious facility. Facilities in the price bracket of £4,000 to £6,000 are likely to be more modern and the doctors are more likely to use the latest technologies and therapies.

Fentanyl Addiction Recovery and Aftercare

Relapse management makes up an integral part of aftercare for opiate addiction. Relapses are fairly common in people suffering from this form of substance abuse disorder. It is down to the individual to learn coping mechanisms that help them to not allow a relapse to develop into a behavioural pattern. Talking therapies and regular contact with clinical staff are highly effective methods of maintaining recovery.

Most facilities offer outpatient aftercare as standard. The functionality of this treatment cannot be underestimated. Rehab is not a cure for addiction; it gives the service user the tools to change their attitude and learn to enjoy the lifestyle that comes with a healthy pattern of behaviour. Long-term change comes from a consistent, concerted effort from the individual to make necessary changes in their actions and behaviour. This effort usually always involves follow-up care.

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Recovery and community

Humans have arguably demonstrated incredible feats of evolution due to their deeply social ways of living. We are a species that depends on the wider population to ensure our needs are met. This dates back to the earliest days of humanity and is echoed in every aspect of society, including government, social networks, the Internet, gymnasiums, restaurants, shops, schools and more.
Many people who suffer from mental health problems or addictions feel marginalised. This sense of alienation or ‘otherness’ can be a key factor in people’s need to escape by using harmful substances. As such, the role that community plays in recovery is pivotal.

Support groups

Support groups are extremely helpful to those recovering from substance abuse disorders for several reasons. Learning to listen to other people and understand their problems can be hugely helpful in recovery. People often come out of a support group feeling less alone and more inclined to open up about their feelings. Not that suffering is quantifiable, but it can be hugely important to put our own experiences into perspective.

12-step

The 12-step programme was developed and first published in the wake of prohibition in 1938 by Bill Wilson. Prior to this programme, alcoholics faced prison time in order to get sober. It has gained worldwide notoriety for its effectiveness as a treatment for alcoholism. Its use for other types of addiction has proven to be helpful as a means of remaining abstinence.

The aim is to increase connectivity with a social group and draws upon spirituality to help people move forward with their lives. (21)

Ready to Start Rehab?

The choice to start the road to recovery can be one that is fraught with fear and doubt.

There is a common misconception that medically assisted treatment means that everyone who enters this type of facility simply ends up addicted to a different substance than what they were admitted for. This could not be further from the truth. Medications can be hugely effective for easing withdrawal symptoms and minimising shock to the body but only when used in a controlled medical setting.

In the same way that painkillers are used to treat pain, these types of drugs don’t make the sufferer high. When used in conjunction with therapy, residential rehab can be one of the most effective ways of getting clean from opiates. These medications are usually tapered until the individual is completely clean; however, long-term users may require more long-term treatment.

Those who have come to the conclusion that their use of fentanyl is out of control are ready to start treatment. If an individual or loved one is prioritising procurement of fentanyl above all else and suffers from withdrawal symptoms, changes in mood, has lost interest in day-to-day life and accepted that cause of these problems is fentanyl, the time has come to call UKAT and find out which options are best.

Take control of your life — get started on the road to recovery

UKAT is the most popular choice for residential rehabilitation in the United Kingdom. It offers a caring, nurturing environment and utilises the most up-to-date methods of detoxification and rehabilitation. Please call us now to find out more about the option best suited to helping your individual needs.

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