In recent years, the synthetic opioid fentanyl has received a significant increase in public awareness, both for its effectiveness as a prescription painkiller and for its dangers when abused.
For individuals who have been experiencing severe pain, often as a result of surgery or due to a disease such as cancer, fentanyl can be a source of considerable relief. Estimated to be as much as 100 times stronger than morphine, fentanyl can ease what medical professionals refer to as breakthrough pain. Given the strength of this medication, fentanyl’s use is typically limited to hospitals or other controlled environments, where patients can take this medication under the close supervision of doctors, nurses, or other qualified healthcare professionals.
As is the case with other opioids, fentanyl interacts with receptors in the brain that are associated with pain and mood, and that are located near the areas of the brain that control heart rate, respiration, and other automatic functions. Thus, when a person ingests fentanyl, he or she will experience decreased pain and elevated mood, along with slowed heart rate and breathing patterns. Fentanyl’s impact on heart and lung functioning is among the many reasons why this drug is so dangerous, and why fentanyl overdose can have catastrophic results.
Unfortunately, the very real dangers of fentanyl abuse have not prevented individuals from using the drug for recreational purposes. In many cases, fentanyl is ingested on its own, while in other cases it is combined with heroin. Some individuals who abuse heroin may unknowingly expose themselves to the dangers of fentanyl abuse by ingesting heroin that they did not realize had been cut with fentanyl.
Regardless of what brings a person into contact with fentanyl, continued exposure to this opioid can quickly lead to addiction. When a person becomes dependent upon fentanyl, he or she will develop powerful cravings for the drug and will also develop tolerance, which means that he or she will need to use greater or more powerful amounts of the drug in order to experience the desired effects.
Becoming addicted to fentanyl also means that a person will experience a variety of distressing physical and psychological symptoms if he or she attempts to stop using the drug, or significantly reduces the amount and frequency of use. Within a few hours of a person’s last use of fentanyl, he or she may develop intense cravings, powerful abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and a host of additional unpleasant physical responses. Fentanyl withdrawal may also cause a person to experience anxiety, agitation, paranoia, or depression.
The pain of fentanyl withdrawal, and the knowledge that these symptoms can be alleviated by once again abusing fentanyl, can quickly overwhelm an individual who is trying to overcome fentanyl addiction on his or her own. Thankfully, there is a more effective way to defeat fentanyl dependence.
At Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers, adult women and men who have become addicted to fentanyl and other opioids can participate in medication-assisted treatment under the care and supervision of experienced and compassionate professionals. The services that are provided at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers can free an individual from the pain of fentanyl withdrawal and can help him or her to make the behavioral changes that will support long-term recovery.
Types of Treatment Offered at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers
Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers’ medication-assisted treatment services are designed for adults ages 18 and above who have been addicted to fentanyl or other opioids. Each person who chooses to enter treatment at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers will complete a thorough admissions assessment and will receive a personalized treatment plan. Depending upon the needs and goals that are identified in the assessment, a participant’s personalized treatment plan may include the following elements:
Methadone: For decades, methadone has been effectively employed to assist individuals who are struggling with opioid addiction. When a person who is dependent upon fentanyl receives daily doses of methadone as part of an approved medication-assisted treatment program, he or she can stop abusing fentanyl without experiencing the painful withdrawal symptoms that were discussed earlier on this page. Because the use of prescription methadone does not elicit the disorienting high that results from fentanyl abuse, the individual will have the mental clarity to attend school, work, drive a car, participate in therapy, and otherwise engage in daily activities.
Subutex: This prescription medication contains buprenorphine, which has been approved for use in medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction since 2002. Like methadone, buprenorphine alleviates fentanyl withdrawal symptoms without causing a disorienting high. Women and men who are prescribed Subutex as part of a licensed medication-assisted treatment program can stop abusing fentanyl without going into withdrawal, and can retain the cognitive clarity that will allow them to meet their daily responsibilities.
Suboxone: Like Subutex, Suboxone contains buprenorphine, which prevents the onset of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone also contains another ingredient, naloxone, which prevents opioid abuse by immediately triggering withdrawal symptoms if a person who is taking Suboxone ingests fentanyl or any other opioid. The combination of buprenorphine and naloxone makes Suboxone an effective medication for individuals when they enter the maintenance phase of their fentanyl recovery. In many cases, individuals start their medication-assisted treatment with Subutex, then transition to Suboxone. Of course, at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers, every person’s medication decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis according to what is best for each individual.
Individual therapy: While the prescription medications described above will prevent a person from experiencing fentanyl withdrawal, they do not help an individual to make the behavioral changes that will support long-term recovery. To help accomplish this goal, Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers also provide individual therapy sessions. Individual therapy is an excellent opportunity for adults in treatment to process successes and setbacks, address personal issues related to their recovery, and receive feedback and guidance from an experienced professional who is familiar with their history and treatment plan. Individual therapy sessions may be scheduled on a regular basis throughout a person’s time in treatment at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers.
Group therapy: As a complement to individual therapy, group therapy brings small numbers of adults together to share insights and experiences, learn from each other, practice healthy interpersonal communication skills, and receive guidance and direction from a trained professional. Group therapy typically involves eight to 15 participants, though this number can vary from session to session and program to program. Group therapy sessions will often focus on an issue or topic that is relevant to opioid recovery, such as relapse prevention, healthy communication, or avoiding triggers, but the content of each group therapy session will be guided by the contributions of each participant.
Why Consider Treatment at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers
Failing to receive effective professional treatment for fentanyl addiction can expose an individual to significant immediate and ongoing harm. Fentanyl abuse can cause a host of physical problems, including cardiovascular damage, impaired functioning of the immune system, gastrointestinal distress, and related problems. Emotionally and psychologically, individuals who engage in chronic fentanyl abuse may be at risk for diminished cognition, hallucinations and delusions, anxiety, paranoia, depression, and additional struggles. The combined impact of these physical, psychological, and emotional setbacks can make it extremely difficult for a person to maintain healthy personal and professional relationships, perform to expectation in school, get and keep a job, establish financial independence, and otherwise participate in a positive and satisfying lifestyle.
When an individual enters medication-assisted treatment at Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers, he or she can remove the risk of continued harm, and can begin to heal from past damage. At Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers, a person will learn to make the lifestyle changes that will support healthy recovery, and can develop the skills and strategies that will allow him or her to become a more effective parent, partner, friend, student, employee, and citizen. At Northern Pennsylvania Comprehensive Treatment Centers, the devastation of fentanyl addiction can give way to the bright promise of a healthy, opioid-free future.