Best Treatment Options for Duragesic Addiction

By The Fix staff 05/02/19

If you or someone you know is dealing with Duragesic addiction, you must call on professional help to make your recovery.

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Rehab and treatment centers around the country advertise their services in print and online. However, not all options will meet your specific needs. To support your own best interests, you must be familiar with some of the basics of Duragesic-related problems. You must also familiarize yourself with the most effective addiction treatments and identify rehab facilities with a proven track record for top-quality care. 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Duragesic and What is it Used For?
  2. Development of Duragesic or Fentanyl Dependence
  3. Development of Duragesic Addiction or Fentanyl Addiction
  4. Fentanyl and Duragesic Recovery Begin with Enrollment in Detox
  5. The Impact of Co-Occurring Mental Disorders and Addiction
  6. Duragesic Rehab Is a Necessary Next Step
  7. Options for Successful Rehab and Recovery
  8. Duragesic Treatment Plans
  9. Identifying Preferred Treatment and Rehab Facilities

What is Duragesic and What is it Used For?

Duragesic is the trademarked name of a prescription medication that contains the powerful opioid fentanyl. It comes in the form of a transdermal patch applied to the skin. The patch’s fentanyl content is gradually absorbed into your bloodstream over a period of several days.

Like all opioid prescription drugs, Duragesic/fentanyl decreases your pain sensitivity by blocking normal pain signaling in your body and brain. Secondary effects of the medication include sedation and intense feelings of pleasure and happiness. These feelings help explain fentanyl’s potential as a drug of abuse. That’s true because patterns of abuse often begin as the consequence of a desire for repeated mood elevation.  

Doctors should only prescribe Duragesic to people who meet certain strict criteria. First, to qualify for legitimate use, you must have pain symptoms that are chronic and severe enough to call for 24-hour treatment. In addition, you must have tried other treatment options that failed to provide you with adequate relief.

Finally, you must have a considerable, pre-existing tolerance to the effects of opioid drugs or medications. The level of intake required to meet the definition of tolerance varies from substance to substance. (Some people qualify for Duragesic use after becoming tolerant to weaker prescription opioids. Others may have a prior history of using heroin or other opioid street drugs.)

These precautions are due to Duragesic’s high fentanyl content. Fentanyl, a completely synthetic or manmade medication, is one of the world’s strongest opioids. When used improperly, it produces heightened risks for two serious problems: addiction and overdose. In fact, fentanyl and similar synthetic products are currently responsible for more deaths than any other opioid medication or drug.

The list of additional fentanyl-based prescription drugs includes Sublimaze and Actiq. When abused or sold through illegal means, fentanyl products are often known by street names such as:

  • Jackpot

  • China Girl

  • Friend

  • Dance Fever

  • Tango and Cash

  • China White

  • Murder 8

  • Apache

  • Goodfellas


Development of Duragesic or Fentanyl Dependence

Duragesic can be vital for the treatment of opioid-tolerant people coping with severe, chronic pain. However, since this prescription drug contains fentanyl, it has the clear potential to produce both dependence and addiction. In the case of opioid drugs and medications, dependence and addiction are not the same thing.

Since Duragesic is used to help people with chronic pain symptoms, its consumption often continues over extended periods of time. Long-term intake of any prescription opioid can make you dependent. In the case of Duragesic, a state of dependence occurs when your brain comes to expect regular doses of fentanyl. If those doses don’t arrive at the typical time or in typical amounts, you may experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Early symptoms of classic opioid withdrawal range from excessive tear and mucus production to increased sweating, uncontrolled yawning and disrupted sleep. If withdrawal progresses further, you may develop additional symptoms such as dilated pupils, goose bumps and abdominal and bowel problems.

Fentanyl dependence is a manageable condition. Your doctor can work with you to provide a dose of the medication that provides adequate pain treatment and steers you clear of withdrawal. Every day, people dependent on Duragesic remain functional members of society with the proper medical help and oversight.

Development of Duragesic Addiction or Fentanyl Addiction

Untreated fentanyl addiction or Duragesic addiction is something else entirely. People who pass from controlled dependence to uncontrolled addiction experience clear, damaging changes in their physical and/or mental well-being. They also typically lose their ability to maintain functional and stable lives.

It’s critical to note that you can develop an addiction to Duragesic even if you take this prescription drug exactly as intended by your doctor. However, your risks for addiction increase significantly if you engage in a pattern of misuse or abuse. Abuse of fentanyl or Duragesic can be divided into three forms or categories.

If you hold a legitimate prescription for the medication, you can fall into abuse by consuming it more often than your doctor indicated. You can also meet the standard for misuse/abuse by taking the drug in larger amounts than indicated. The third category of Duragesic abuse includes anyone who uses even a single transdermal patch without a prescription.

A doctor or addiction specialist can diagnose the presence of a fentanyl addiction by looking for the presence of certain symptoms. These symptoms form part of a condition called opioid use disorder, or OUD. Doctors and public health officials use the OUD label to describe substance disorders triggered by the use of opioid drugs or medications. The terms for opioid use disorder also include people who are not addicted, but nevertheless experience serious, opioid-related harms.

Possible Opioid Use Disorder Indicators in Duragesic Users

  • Regularly using Duragesic too often or in higher-than-prescribed amounts

  • Losing your ability to gain control over your intake despite multiple efforts

  • Using the prescription drug repeatedly in dangerous situations

  • The presence of strong urges for further Duragesic abuse

  • Maintenance of a pattern of use that you know harms your physical or mental health

  • Maintenance of a pattern of use that you know interferes with important relationships

  • Rising tolerance to the painkilling or pleasure-producing effects of fentanyl

  • Establishment of Duragesic/fentanyl abuse as a major element of your daily schedule

  • Replacement of former activities or hobbies with Duragesic abuse

  • A failure to meet important life responsibilities that’s the result of your prescription drug consumption

  • The onset of withdrawal if you switch to a lower-strength patch, use Duragesic less often or completely stop use of the medication


It’s possible to have mild, moderate or severe symptoms of opioid use disorder. Part of that determination is based on the overall number of symptoms present within a 12-month period. You may also have specific symptoms that vary in intensity or duration.

Fentanyl and Duragesic Recovery Begin with Enrollment in Detox

Effective help is available for people affected by Duragesic addiction or fentanyl addiction. The first step in the road to lasting recovery is participation in a medical detox (detoxification) program. Detox begins when your consumption of a drug or medication comes to a halt. With no more of the addictive substance flowing into your bloodstream, you will begin to go through the process of withdrawal.

Unfortunately, people with an addiction to Duragesic and other forms of fentanyl are susceptible to severe withdrawal symptoms. These severe issues can take the form of disrupted sleep, overwhelming urges for continued drug intake and a combination of diarrhea and vomiting. You may also experience problems such as involuntary movement of your legs, pain in your bones or muscles, or goose flesh accompanied by cold flashes.

No matter what type of substance you abuse, the severity of withdrawal symptoms during detox can make you want to halt your recovery efforts. This is especially true for people enrolled in detox for a Duragesic addiction or fentanyl addiction. In these cases, severe symptoms can appear just a few hours after medication intake stops.

In recent years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved some new treatment options that may help make the process more tolerable. One option now available to anyone struggling with severe fentanyl withdrawal is the non-opioid medication lofexidine. This prescription drug widens your blood vessels and increases blood flow in your circulatory system. In turn, this increased blood flow helps ease the intensity of Duragesic detox.

Your doctor may also prescribe an electrical, nerve-stimulating device called the NSS-2 Bridge. When placed behind your ear, the NSS-2 sends periodic pulses of electricity to the cranial nerves at the bottom of your brain. These pulses alter nerve function in a way designed to help control your detox symptoms. You may receive treatment with the device for as many as five days.

The Impact of Co-Occurring Mental Disorders and Addiction

The time you spend in detox before active rehabilitation has other vital uses. For instance, it gives your doctor a chance to assess you for additional problems that may be damaging your well-being. One problem of particular importance is the presence of a serious mental health issue other than opioid use disorder. When mental health disorders appear in combination with OUD or other substance use disorders, you may qualify for something called co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis.

Co-occurring disorders are relatively common. That’s unfortunate, because their presence can make it much more difficult to provide adequate treatment. In some cases, fentanyl addiction (or other drug or alcohol problems) may appear before the onset of separate mental illness. In other cases, diagnosable symptoms of mental illness appear prior to the onset of addiction. To recover from co-occurring disorders, you must receive treatments that address mental illness as well as your prescription drug problem.

Depression is one of the most frequent mental illnesses in people affected by dual diagnosis. Other conditions known to appear in combination with substance addiction include schizophrenic disorders and anxiety disorders. Personality disorder (PD) is also on the short list of the most likely contributors to dual diagnosis.

Duragesic Rehab Is a Necessary Next Step

To make good on your recovery from fentanyl addiction, you must enter Duragesic rehab after you complete the detox process. If you fail to follow up your detox participation with a rehabilitation program, you run several major risks. First, without follow-up addiction treatment, you can quickly end up returning to a pattern of fentanyl abuse. Relapses are not uncommon in people in recovery. However, they pose a special danger for people recovering from fentanyl- or Duragesic-related problems.

Since fentanyl is one of the strongest opioids in the world, it has a tremendous potential to trigger the symptoms of opioid overdose. In recent years, the number of overdoses related to use of this powerful drug have skyrocketed. Throughout the nation, public health officials view this rise in fatalities as a major threat and challenge.

Why is this information important to people who detox from Duragesic? During the detox process, you will gradually grow less tolerant to the drug effects of fentanyl. When detoxification is complete, you’ll feel the impact of doses far below your previous, accustomed level of intake. If you try to “pick up where you left off,” you may be on a fast track to an overdose with a potentially lethal outcome. For these reasons, addiction experts view relapse and overdose as the primary dangers of detox.

There is another huge reason for entering a rehab treatment facility after detox ends. To make lasting changes in your fentanyl-related behaviors, you must develop your awareness of how addiction works. You must also develop the crucial skills that will help you avoid substance abuse in various daily situations. Duragesic rehab programs are specifically designed for people with fentanyl/opioid problems. By enrolling in them, you optimize your chances for a sustainable short- and long-term recovery.

Options for Successful Rehab and Recovery

Successful rehabilitation from prescription drug addiction can occur in one of three places. Most people receive the treatment they need in inpatient rehab facilities. Facilities in this category are residential. Throughout your enrollment, you will live onsite, rather than at home. 

This residential setup gives doctors and support staff the ability to monitor your mental and physical state at all hours of the day and night. It also makes it easier to make any necessary adjustments in your current treatment plan. In addition, enrollment in inpatient rehab provides 24/7 access to emergency help if you should experience any treatment complications.

People who experience milder symptoms while going through detox may be able to meet their needs in an outpatient fentanyl rehabilitation program. If you enroll in outpatient care, you’ll remain at home during treatment. On a given number of days per week, you’ll travel to your chosen rehab center for checkups and assessments. Even if you have moderate addiction or withdrawal symptoms, you can sometimes choose outpatient care. This is especially true if you can’t make the time commitment required for inpatient addiction treatment.

The third possibility for Duragesic rehab or fentanyl rehabilitation is hospitalization. As a rule, only people with severe and/or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms qualify for this option. People who start rehab in hospitals may be transferred to inpatient or outpatient care at a later date.

Since Duragesic or fentanyl abuse can lead to severe addiction and withdrawal side effects, outpatient care is often not an option. However, unless you also abuse other substances, opioid withdrawal is not typically life-threatening. Taking these two factors into account, it’s probable that inpatient Duragesic rehabilitation is your best option for effective addiction recovery. The presence of a co-occurring disorder also increases the odds that you will need to receive addiction treatment through a residential rehabilitation program.

Duragesic Treatment Plans

The standard option for treatment of any form of opioid addiction is a combination of medication and behavior-modifying psychotherapy. The medications used during fentanyl rehab may have any one of several purposes. Like lofexidine, they may help ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. You may also receive medication in order to reduce the intensity of any ongoing cravings for opioid use. In addition, your treatment plan may include medication designed to stop opioids from having a drug effect in your brain and body. All three of these approaches help keep you sober and reduce your chances of relapsing back into active substance abuse.

Buprenorphine and methadone are two of the frontline medications for Duragesic addiction treatment. While it may seem unusual, both of these options also belong to the opioid family of prescription drugs. Buprenorphine is a relatively weak opioid, while methadone has a stronger effect. However, both medications are less powerful than fentanyl (which can be up to 100 times stronger than morphine, the source of all heroin.)

During fentanyl rehab, substitution of buprenorphine or methadone for Duragesic has some important benefits. First, it allows you to go through detox without going “cold turkey” and triggering severe, withdrawal-related side effects. At the same time, your dose of these prescription drugs won’t be enough to get you “high.” Instead, your controlled intake will limit your opioid cravings and make it possible to stabilize your condition. As you improve, you doctor may gradually taper your medication dosage down to nothing. However, some people continue to receive ongoing, maintenance doses of buprenorphine or methadone.

The third well-established medication for treatment of Duragesic addiction is naltrexone. This anti-opioid enters your bloodstream and blocks the pathways that normally give opioids their brain-altering powers. With naltrexone in your system, you can’t really get high. For this reason, you’ll have far less motivation for a relapse from Duragesic rehabilitation. You can only safely take naltrexone if you’ve completed opioid detox. Otherwise, the rapid shutoff of opioids’ brain access could lead to the onset of heavy withdrawal symptoms.

There are several behavioral therapy options shown to support successful Duragesic rehabilitation. One evidence-based method is called motivational interviewing. It uses counseling techniques to help you get clear about your reasons for halting your substance abuse. Another approach, called contingency management, uses a combination of a point system and prizes or vouchers to help you stay motivated and meet your stated addiction treatment goals. A third choice for therapy, called community reinforcement or CRA, relies on similar methods.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a fourth option with proven usefulness for fentanyl rehab. This form of treatment aims to help you understand your reasons for getting involved in prescription drug abuse. It also helps you change your daily behaviors and turn away from actions that make abuse more likely to occur. Possible rehabilitation therapies also include 12-step facilitation and family behavior therapy. Depending on your situation, you may receive help in the form of group therapy or individual sessions with your caregiver.

Identifying Preferred Treatment and Rehab Facilities

In today’s world, even substandard prescription drug rehab centers may produce impressive advertising for Duragesic rehabilitation. To wade through the static and find a truly effective program, you should focus on certain key areas. First, look for programs that use treatments backed by scientific evidence and recommendations from authorities in the addiction field. The doctors who administer these treatments should have extensive experience treating patients with opioid-related problems.

Whether you call a hotline or make contact in other ways, rehab programs on your preferred list should offer detailed information on their methods and practices. They should also help resolve any questions you may have about the recovery process.

No reputable fentanyl rehabilitation program will treat you without first conducting a thorough assessment during intake.This assessment is necessary to make sure your recovery takes place in an appropriate setting. It’s also necessary to help identify any factors that may affect the course of addiction treatment. That includes overlapping mental health issues such as PD, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia-related disorders and depression.

The best programs enlist you as an active participant in the rehab process. To this end, they explain each step of treatment and listen to your opinions and observations. In addition, top programs for rehabilitation from Duragesic addiction make sure you feel well-supported at all times. That means hiring well-trained secondary staff and maintaining a safe, secure facility. In a best-case scenario, it also means offering holistic services that help you feel like something more than just another addiction patient.

Only you can make the final call on which treatment program provides the best options for recovery from fentanyl addiction. With a firm understanding of the variables involved, you can choose your rehab destination with confidence. Regardless of your chosen facility, the goal remains the same: sobriety and a return to a lasting, substance-free routine.

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