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Levels of Care for Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Fentanyl is an opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.1 It may be prescribed to treat severe pain, and brand names for fentanyl include Actiq and Duragesic.2

Fentanyl can also be illicitly manufactured and sold on the streets. It is a synthetic opioid that is cheap and relatively easy to produce. It is both sought after for use on its own, but also sometimes found as a contaminant or filler in heroin, illicit stimulants, and even counterfeit pills.

So, not only does it make drugs cheaper, but also more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous.

Fentanyl/opioid addiction is a chronic medical condition often managed with a combination of behavioral therapies medication.3 Fentanyl addiction treatment can help people safely stop using fentanyl and other opioids, as well as teach skills they’ll need during recovery.3

Addiction treatment often involves detox followed by rehab and aftercare.3 The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) outlines criteria for different levels of addiction treatment, including detox and inpatient and outpatient rehab.4 ASAM explains that  an individual’s treatment based on their unique needs, obstacles, liabilities, strengths, assets, resources, and support structure, and that people may require moving from one level or treatment to another based on changes in their needs as they progress through treatment.4

This article will help you understand fentanyl addiction treatment options and explain how you or a loved one can find a fentanyl addiction treatment center.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

When possible, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or another qualified treatment professional to make the best treatment decisions for your needs. Treatment plans are formulated based on a person’s particular needs. However, these needs can change as a person progresses through treatment, so treatment can and should be adjusted as necessary.5

Fentanyl Detox Program

Individuals who suddenly quit or reduce their opioid use are at significant risk of experiencing very unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.6,7 These symptoms can result in an abrupt return to drug use, which increases the risk of a life-threatening overdose.

Medically supervised fentanyl detox can effectively manage and minimize withdrawal symptoms while monitoring for potential complication and safely transitioning a person into treatment for opioid use disorder.6 Detox alone is typically not sufficient treatment to support abstinence, but it can be an important, and potentially lifesaving intervention that can help people start the path to recovery.6

A fentanyl detox program involves three key elements, including:

  • A comprehensive assessment that includes testing for the presence of substances and examining a person’s unique needs based on their health, substance use history, social support, and other factors.6 The evaluation helps determine the most appropriate course of action, including treatment level.6
  • Patient stabilization. which may include medications, medical supervision and monitoring, and other forms of care and support in order to achieve a substance-free, medically stable state.6 During this stage, people are also familiarized with different types of fentanyl addiction treatment options.6
  • Fostering patient readiness for and entry into rehab treatment, where people are assisted with entering the appropriate level of rehab.6

Different medications may be used to manage fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Lofexidine, a non-opioid medication that is FDA approved to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms.2
  • Methadone, which is a full opioid agonist that can alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings.2
  • Buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist that can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.2
  • Clonidine, which may be used off-label to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.6

After detox, people may continue to take methadone or buprenorphine to help sustain recovery. Both are safe medications that people may continue while in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program and can take for months or even the rest of their lives to support abstinence and ongoing recovery.8 Post-detox opioid addiction treatment, either inpatient or outpatient, that includes behavioral therapies can be beneficial as a next step. These rehab programs can teach important recovery skills and address underlying issues related to a person’s addiction.2

Inpatient Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Residential/inpatient fentanyl addiction treatment involves living onsite at a treatment facility.9 People stay overnight and receive 24/7 care and support for the duration of their stay, which can help them focus fully on recovery. During an inpatient program, people participate in different forms of therapy and receive medications as needed.4 This may include naltrexone, a medication that blocks the effects of opioids by preventing them from attaching to opioid receptors.8

An inpatient/residential treatment program for fentanyl addiction may be a beneficial option for certain people, such as those with co-occurring medical or psychiatric conditions, people with a history of prior relapse, people who need withdrawal management and require medication or medical supervision, people with histories of severe or complicated withdrawal or prior seizures, and those that lack a supportive home environment and adequate social support.9,10

A stay at a fentanyl addiction residential program often ranges from 28–30 days to 90 days or longer as needed.9 The length of inpatient treatment should align with treatment plan goals, which are tailored to a person’s unique needs, such as the level of their addiction and their overall mental and physical health.5

Outpatient Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Outpatient treatment for fentanyl addiction is different from inpatient treatment because people can continue to live at home and, in many cases, attend to daily responsibilities such as school or work.9 Since people must attend outpatient treatment on a regular schedule, they need to have access to reliable transportation.9

There are different levels of intensity of outpatient treatment, each highly structured with more intensive care requiring a higher number of treatment hours. Standard outpatient care is the least intensive and involves attending treatment 1–3 times per week for less than a total of 9 hours. More intensive outpatient programs, such as partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient programs, involve a higher number of treatment hours.9,10

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) for Fentanyl Addiction

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs), sometimes referred to as day treatment programs, are the most intensive form of outpatient rehab, where a person lives at home but attends treatment most days of the week for 4–8 hours per day.6,9 PHPs can last up to 3 months.9 PHPs may be used as a step-down following inpatient treatment, as a standalone form of rehab, or for individuals who require higher levels of care after participating in a less intensive outpatient program.5,9

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for Fentanyl Addiction

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a less intensive form of outpatient addiction treatment when compared to a PHP, but more intensive than standard outpatient care.9 IOPs typically involve 9 or more treatment hours per week.9,10

Aftercare Planning

Aftercare, also known as continuing care, helps to support a person’s recovery momentum after the initial period of more formal treatments have ended. It is both a form of post-treatment monitoring and a form of treatment.11

Aftercare is an important component of a comprehensive recovery plan, as it can lower the risk of relapse, provide necessary social support, and increases the chances of long-term recovery success.9

Aftercare may include:

  • Attending mutual support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery.12 These help people stay on track through the support and camaraderie of others who are also in recovery.12
  • Participating in Alumni programs, which may be offered by the rehab you attend.
  • Receiving behavioral therapy in individual or group settings, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which involves examining and replacing negative or unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that can contribute to relapse, or contingency management, which offers tangible rewards when people achieve specific outcomes, like medication adherence.2,5

Sober Living Programs

Sober living programs are another form of aftercare that can be helpful for people who are concerned about returning to their immediate living environments following a residential treatment stay.9

Sober living programs provide a safe, substance-free living environment to help people transition back to their day-to-day lives after participation in addiction treatment programs.9 They provide peer and social support, involve residents in daily decisions involving the management of the facility, and help people continue to work on and build their recovery skills.14

Sober living is a type of informal treatment, and the specifics can vary from home to home, but they typically involve strict house rules and guidelines, and many require or strongly encourage people to participate in mutual support groups.15

Does Insurance Cover Fentanyl Addiction Treatment?

Insurance should cover a fentanyl addiction treatment program, at least in part, but every insurance plan is different so the exact coverage can vary. The Affordable Care Act states that mental and behavioral health services are essential health benefits, and marketplace plans must provide some level of coverage for substance use disorder treatment.16

Plans can vary and some, such as HMOs, may require that you use in-network providers, or PPOs, where you may pay less if you use a provider in their network.17 You may also be responsible for co-pays, deductibles (the amount of money you have to pay out-of-pocket each year before your insurance plans will pay), or other out-of-pocket costs.18 You should contact your insurance carrier to inquire about your specific plan’s benefits.

Finding Fentanyl Addiction Rehab

Seeking fentanyl addiction treatment can help you or a loved one start the path to recovery and resume a healthy, productive life.3 It’s never too late to get help. You can start the process by consulting your family physician to have an evaluation and ask for referrals to treatment facilities.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of treatment for fentanyl addiction, with rehabs located across the United States. Call our free, confidential helpline at to speak with a knowledgeable admissions navigator to learn more about your rehab options and start the admissions process.

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