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Fentanyl Addiction and Treatment: Signs, Effects & Solutions

Last Updated: January 29, 2024

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Although fentanyl is a highly dangerous and addictive opioid, participating in treatment for fentanyl addiction can help you stop taking the drug permanently.

Fentanyl has been at the forefront of the opioid addiction crisis for years. Although the drug is prescribed for legitimate medical reasons in the U.S., it is also manufactured illicitly by drug cartels and smuggled into the country. If you struggle with fentanyl, you are not alone; our professional fentanyl addiction treatment program can help.

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What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent opioid linked with many opioid overdose deaths. Artificial opioids like fentanyl accounted for more than 82% of all opioid overdose deaths in 2020.

Fentanyl is sometimes prescribed for legitimate medical reasons, like severe pain in cancer patients, and is available under brand names, including:

  • Subsys (oral liquid)
  • Duragesic (patch)
  • Actiq (oral lozenge)
  • Fentora (oral tablet)
  • Lazanda (nasal spray)
  • Abstral (oral tablet)
  • Sublimaze (injection, available in hospitals only)

However, it is also sold on the streets illegally under names like:

  • Apache
  • Dance Fever
  • Friend
  • Goodfellas
  • Jackpot
  • Murder 8
  • Tango & Cash

Why Is Fentanyl So Dangerous?

Any opioid can be dangerous, risking addiction, dependence and overdose. However, compared to other opioids, fentanyl is incredibly dangerous because of its potency. Fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin. Further, sometimes drug dealers lace other drugs with fentanyl, so the person might be unaware they are taking it. Drugs that have been laced with fentanyl include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy (MDMA). Someone who mistakenly takes fentanyl has a high overdose risk because they are unaware they are consuming the substance.

Signs of Fentanyl Use

When taking fentanyl regularly, you will often experience side effects. Although not everyone will experience the same symptoms, having some physical and psychological effects from the drug is very common and may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling
  • Dehydration

If you or a loved one are struggling with Fentanyl addiction, help is available. Call 833-939-0318 today to speak to a Recovery Advocate and learn how we can help you quit fentanyl for good and find lifelong recovery.

Long-term Effects of Fentanyl Use

Long-term opioid use can cause harmful effects on the body, including increasing the risk of addiction and overdose, an ever-present danger for Schedule II controlled substances like fentanyl. Other long-term consequences include:

  • Constipation
  • Sleep apnea
  • Fractures
  • Intestinal blockages
  • Hormonal problems

In addition, fentanyl is most likely to suppress your immune system, putting you at risk for illness and infection.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

When you take fentanyl regularly, your body becomes used to it and adapts accordingly. Changes occur at the cellular level because your brain comes to expect fentanyl. When you suddenly stop taking the drug, your brain chemistry is thrown into disarray. Although your brain does its best to adapt quickly, your body experiences withdrawal as it tries to cope without fentanyl.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Yawning
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea

Trying to quit fentanyl is challenging, especially without help. In addition, relapse after fentanyl withdrawal is extremely dangerous because your body is no longer used to the drug. You could easily overdose if you take a dose of fentanyl that you used to be able to tolerate before the withdrawal.

Knowing When It’s Time To Seek Help

Common addiction signs and symptoms occur when a person struggles with fentanyl. Although not everyone will show all symptoms, having more than two within a year can mean the person is becoming addicted to fentanyl, and it is time to seek help:

  1. Taking more fentanyl than intended or for longer than intended
  2. Previous unsuccessful attempts to cut down on or quit fentanyl
  3. Spending a lot of time getting, taking or recovering from fentanyl
  4. Craving fentanyl
  5. Problems meeting obligations at school or work due to fentanyl
  6. Interpersonal issues because of fentanyl
  7. Quitting or cutting back on other activities because of fentanyl
  8. Using fentanyl even when it is dangerous
  9. Taking fentanyl even though you are aware it is hurting you
  10. Needing more fentanyl to get the same effects as before
  11. Withdrawal symptoms if you try to cut back or quit fentanyl

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Fentanyl addiction treatment starts with realizing you are struggling and want to change. The Recovery Village Kansas City offers a comprehensive treatment program to help stop fentanyl use safely and support you through professional rehab treatment.


Medical detox is the first step of fentanyl recovery. Often withdrawal symptoms can overwhelm and challenge your recovery when you try to remove fentanyl from your system alone.

A medical detox program helps you through withdrawal with round-the-clock care from doctors and nurses who can treat your symptoms as they occur. Depending on the severity of your fentanyl addiction, you may be a candidate for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with drugs like buprenorphine (Suboxone).


Medical detox is only the first step of your lifelong recovery. You remain at high risk of relapse until you complete rehab, where you explore why you began relying on fentanyl and learn healthier coping strategies. Several phases of rehab include:

  • Inpatient rehabIn inpatient rehab, you live at the recovery center, which provides a structured, sober living environment, allowing you to focus all your time and efforts on recovery.
  • Partial hospitalizationAfter inpatient rehab, you’ll have more free time and independence to manage your own recovery while still receiving several hours of care each day.
  • Intensive outpatient rehab: While many clients continue living onsite in intensive outpatient care, others attend treatment then return home. These clients receive fewer hours of care as they transition to life in recovery.

Ongoing Aftercare and Support

Addiction is a lifelong illness. Aftercare programs are available to help you stay focused on remaining fentanyl-free for life and may include:

Fentanyl Addiction and Mental Health

Mental health disorders are common in people who struggle with substances like fentanyl. More than 25% of people who struggle with drugs have a mental health disorder, most commonly:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Personality disorders

Because substance abuse and mental health go together, it is important to treat both. Dual diagnosis programs help address both issues simultaneously, easing your recovery.

Is Fentanyl Addiction Treatable?

Fentanyl addiction is lifelong but treatable. Participating in medical detox, rehab and aftercare programs can help you quit the drug permanently and live fentanyl-free. Addiction treatment programs significantly increase your chances of successfully beating fentanyl.

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