Fentanyl Addiction and Treatment

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Fentanyl is overall known as a serious pain management drug that is used widely for patients undergoing surgery and cancer treatment. Patients that are being supervised by medical professionals have little to no risk for abuse or addiction.

In almost all medical instances, fentanyl use is an important step in pain management. It offers some relief to people undergoing immense amounts of pain.

Since Fentanyl is a part of the opioid family, its use carries with it many of the same risks as other opioids. It is very hard to get a hold of as a legal prescription (very few doctors prescribe it outside of a hospital setting). However, many illegal labs are popping up and creating their own version of fentanyl with the same chemical attributes.

For this reason, it’s important to understand what fentanyl is and how people abuse it. It’s also important to know what to do if you or someone you know is facing fentanyl addiction.

Understanding Fentanyl: What is it? What is it Used For?

Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical drug that is classified as an opioid pain reliever. It is such a strong pain reliever that it is actually 50-100 times stronger than morphine. For this reason, it generally only used for surgery, recovery from surgery and cancer treatment. There are many different forms of fentanyl to meet patient’s needs.


            This is known as the fentanyl patch. It’s used to treat moderate to severe pain and can last up to 3 days


            A sublingual spray that is administered under a patient’s tongue to bring immediate relief from intense pain. It was originally created to treat patients who are already opioid-tolerant as a breakthrough pain reliever.


            Also used for breakthrough pain – mostly associated with cancer. This form of fentanyl is a quick-dissolve tablet and is also administered under the tongue for fast relief.


            A fentanyl nasal spray that is used in the same way as a nasal decongestant. Primarily used for pain in cancer patients.


            Commonly referred to as a fentanyl “lollipop”, this form comes as a lozenge on a plastic stick. It is also used for breakthrough pain and also has some military applications.

Fentanyl works like other opioids by blocking pain receptors and increases happiness by producing more dopamine. Because of the strength of fentanyl, it carries a very high risk of abuse and addiction. Especially for those individuals who have already had addiction issues with other forms of opioids.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction and Abuse

Many of the signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse are similar to an individual abusing heroin or another opioid. The more an individual uses fentanyl the greater the risk that they will become addicted. It is an extremely slippery slope from recreational use to full-blown addiction.

Addiction Signs Include:

  • The addict is constantly busy (presumably with fentanyl) and has no money.
  • Because of the fentanyl abuse, the person is unable to meet obligations with family, friends or career.
  • Withdrawing from opportunities at social gatherings, work or school to use fentanyl instead.
  • Tolerance begins to grow, and the individual requires a larger amount of fentanyl to produce the same high.
  • Withdrawal symptoms begin within only a few hours of being without the drug.

Addiction Symptoms Include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Sleepiness or “nodding off”
  • Extreme Happiness
  • Nausea
  • Itching/scratching
  • Blurry Vision
  • Problems with balance/walking
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Constipation

One of the biggest dangers that come with fentanyl is that it is constantly mixed with other substances. This is because of the extreme high that the drug produces, this makes it a cheap filler for other substances such as ecstasy, cocaine or another opioid such as heroin. Some users may not even know that they are taking fentanyl. This makes it that much harder to quit the highly addictive, lethal substance.

Addiction Treatment for Fentanyl Abuse

Similarly, to other opioids, addiction treatment for fentanyl comes with some initial risks. A person who has been abusing the drug for some time will surely encounter many withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and even fatal. Because of the extreme nature of withdrawal symptoms, it is highly discouraged that individuals attempt to quit fentanyl “cold turkey” or detox without medical supervision.

Detox, is a necessary important first step in addiction treatment, as it will rid of the body of the substance. There are plenty of detox programs that provide medically assisted treatment to ease the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. These treatment plans are medically supervised around the clock. Professional medical staff monitor all symptoms to be sure the addict is recovering from the detox process properly. This is necessary to eliminate the more extreme or even life-threating withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Chills and sweating
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Joint pain
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Overall muscle pain and aches

Once an individual finishes the process of detoxing, they must then begin the addiction treatment process. It’s true that detox is very important as it breaks the physical addiction symptoms. But, it does not cure the mental addiction that is tied to fentanyl.

Addiction treatment requires a long process. It involves identifying the causes of addiction, acknowledging personal weaknesses that caused the onset of addiction, and recognizing triggers. Recovery is a life-long process and learning to restart your life addiction-free, requires help and support.

Residential Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

For a serious opioid addiction such as fentanyl, it is often recommended that an individual undergo a residential treatment program. These programs are often customized to the person undergoing treatment.

However, the treatment time frame is usually between 30-90 days. Research shows that the longer a person is in rehab, the higher the likelihood that they will remain sober.

Both residential (inpatient) treatment and outpatient treatment both offer individual, group, and family therapy programs.

Outpatient Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Residential treatment may have a higher success rate. But, it is not always an option. Sometimes individuals are unable to break away from day to day responsibilities. Outpatient treatment is a less expensive alternative that also always a person to reside at home during treatment.

You can still attend therapy programs before or after work but go home afterward. Outpatient treatment is also tailored to the person undergoing rehab; however, treatment can also last up 90 days.

Don’t Struggle with Fentanyl Addiction Any Longer, Contact Us Today

The disease of addiction is difficult to overcome alone, but you don’t have to! At Northbound Treatment, our team of recovery treatment specialists work with you step by step to help you reach your goal of sobriety. Contact us today by calling (866) 511-2458 to discuss your treatment options!





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