22 Sep Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Canada
Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used medically for pain management, especially in cases of severe pain. Its extreme potency is a means for prescriptions to be in a controlled and carefully monitored setting. Fentanyl is estimated to be about 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, and roughly 50 times more potent than heroin.
Fentanyl binds to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, which leads to pain relief and a sense of euphoria. However, due to its potency, it also makes fentanyl highly prone to misuse and abuse. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl has been a significant contributor to the opioid crisis, as it has been found mixed with other drugs like heroin, cocaine, and counterfeit prescription pills. This has led to a surge in overdose deaths, as individuals may inadvertently consume a lethal dose of fentanyl.
In Canada, fentanyl addiction treatment follows established protocols for opioid use treatments. Treatment approaches aim to address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction to help achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.
Components of Fentanyl Addiction Treatment in Canada include:
- Detoxification – Detoxification is the process of removing the drug from the bloodstream while managing symptoms of withdrawal. Medical supervision is essential during detoxification because withdrawal from opioids like fentanyl can be challenging and dangerous if not managed correctly.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – MAT involves the use of medications that help reduce cravings, prevent withdrawal symptoms, and normalize brain function. With fentanyl addiction, medications like methadone, suboxone, and naloxone are commonly used.
- Counselling and Therapy – Behavioural therapies are an important component of fentanyl addiction treatment and any addiction for that matter. Individual counselling, group therapy, and family therapy can help individuals understand the underlying causes of their addiction, develop coping strategies, and learn the necessary skills to maintain sobriety.
- Support – Support groups and other recovery-oriented groups provide a supportive community where people can share their experiences, receive encouragement, and learn from others who have walked similar paths.
- Harm Reduction – Harm reduction strategies, like providing naloxone kits and educating on overdose prevention are vital to reducing the occurrence of overdose among individuals with continuous opioid use.
- Inpatient Residential Treatment – For individuals with severe addiction or those who require a more intensive level of care, residential treatment programs offer a structured environment with around-the-clock support, counselling, and therapy.
- Outpatient Treatment – Outpatient programs allow individuals to receive treatment while continuing to live at home. These programs offer flexibility and can include a combination of counselling, therapy, and medication management.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment – Many individuals with addiction also have underlying mental health issues. Dual-diagnosis treatment addresses both addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders through integrated care.
Addiction treatment is tailored to an individual’s needs. A comprehensive assessment is conducted to determine the most suitable treatment plan.
Fentanyl withdrawal is the physical and psychological symptoms that occur when a person who is dependent on fentanyl or other opioids stops using or significantly reduces their intake. Withdrawal symptoms can be intense and uncomfortable, but they come with the body’s adjustment period while experiencing the absence of fentanyl and other opioids. Fentanyl withdrawal can be dangerous, and attempting to quit cold turkey without medical supervision is not recommended.
Common fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:
- Flu-like Symptoms – Symptoms can include body aches, chills, sweating, and a runny nose.
- Gastrointestinal Distress – Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, are common symptoms.
- Restlessness and Agitation – Feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and irritability are experienced.
- Insomnia – Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is common.
- Muscle and Bone Pain – Pain in the muscles and bones, often referred to as “bone pain” can be uncomfortable.
- Dilated Pupils – Pupils may appear larger than usual.
- Anxiety and Depression – Feelings of anxiety and depression can intensify during withdrawal.
- Cravings – Strong cravings for opioids, including fentanyl, are typical during withdrawal.
- Elevated Heart Rate and Blood Pressure – The body’s autonomic nervous system can become dysregulated during withdrawal, leading to changes in heart rate and blood pressure.
Because fentanyl withdrawal can be distressing and risky, it is highly recommended to have professional medical help when discontinuing fentanyl use. Medical supervision can aid in managing withdrawal symptoms, provide medications to ease discomfort, and ensure the safety and well-being of the individual.
These medications can include:
Methadone is a medication commonly used in the treatment of opioid dependence, including addiction to drugs like fentanyl. Methadone is classified as a long-acting synthetic opioid agonist, which means it works on the same receptors in the brain as opioids like fentanyl, but with a slower onset and longer duration of action. Methadone helps to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with opioid dependence without causing the intense euphoria that opioids like fentanyl can produce.
Methadone maintenance treatment involves replacing illicit opioids such as fentanyl with a controlled and medically supervised dose of methadone. This approach can provide benefits including:
- Withdrawal Relief – Methadone helps manage and alleviate the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, making the process more manageable.
- Craving Reduction – By binding to the same opioid receptors, methadone can reduce the intense cravings for fentanyl and other opioids, making it easier for individuals to abstain from drug use.
- Stabilization – Methadone has a longer duration of action, which allows for once-daily dosing, providing more stable blood levels and reducing the need for multiple doses throughout the day.
- Harm Reduction – Methadone maintenance can reduce the risk of overdose and other health complications associated with illicit opioid use.
Methadone itself is an opioid, and when it is being used should be done so under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional.
Suboxone is used in the treatment of opioid dependence, including addiction to drugs like fentanyl. It contains two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone is an opioid antagonist. The combination is designed to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings while reducing the risk of misuse and overdose.
How Suboxone Works:
- Role of Buprenorphine – Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, which means it binds to the opioid receptors in the brain but produces a milder effect compared to full agonists like fentanyl. This helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing the intense euphoria associated with stronger opioids.
- Role of Naloxone – Naloxone is included in Suboxone to discourage misuse. If Suboxone is taken as prescribed, (sublingually meaning under the tongue) the naloxone has minimal effect. However, if Suboxone is crushed and injected (which is not the intended use), the naloxone can precipitate withdrawal symptoms, making misuse less appealing.
Benefits of Suboxone:
- Withdrawal Relief – Suboxone helps manage withdrawal symptoms, making the detoxification process more manageable.
- Craving Reduction – By binding to opioid receptors, buprenorphine reduces cravings for fentanyl and other opioids.
- Safer Alternative – Suboxone has a lower risk of overdose compared to full agonists like fentanyl.
- Reduced Euphoria – The partial agonist properties of buprenorphine mean that it produces less intense euphoria, making it less likely to be abused.
- Lessened Withdrawal Riske – The inclusion of naloxone discourages misuse and reduces the risk of precipitated withdrawal if the medication is taken as intended.
Suboxone treatment is typically initiated under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider with experience in addiction medicine. It is important to remember that Suboxone treatment is individualized, and the duration of the treatment can vary depending on the person’s needs and progress.
Fentanyl addiction treatment is tailored to the individual and their needs. If you or someone you know is seeking fentanyl addiction treatment in Canada, Andy Bhatti Intervention and Addiction Services can help.
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