Addiction Treatment


Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Fentanyl Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Fewer drugs have cast a longer shadow over society than opioids. Used to treat pain for millennia, when used correctly this large family of drugs help people endure surgery, recover from injury, and live normal lives free from chronic pain.

When misused?

In 2021, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 100,000 drug overdose deaths had occurred over a 12-month period, a record number. Over three-fourths of those deaths were due to opioids.

Highly addictive and lethal, opioids are among the most dangerous addictive substances on the planet.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is used for severe pain management and is more potent than morphine or oxycodone, increasing the risk of overdose and addiction. Available in patches, lozenges, and injections, it’s also illicitly produced, contributing to many overdose fatalities. It operates by attaching to brain and spinal cord receptors, modifying pain perception and inducing euphoria.

Fentanyl Potency Vs. Other Opioids

Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and about 50 times stronger than heroin. Its high potency increases the risk of overdose significantly compared to other opioids. Unlike other opioids, fentanyl's potency means that even a miniscule amount can cause severe respiratory depression leading to death. This heightened potency makes it crucial for people using fentanyl to be aware of the risks involved.

Methods of Fentanyl Use

Individuals misuse fentanyl in various ways, including swallowing pills, smoking patches, injecting the drug, or snorting powder. These methods allow for quick absorption into the bloodstream, intensifying its effects rapidly. The most common method of fentanyl use is through injection due to its rapid onset of action and powerful euphoric effects. However, this method also poses the highest risk of overdose and addiction.

Fentanyl Addiction: Pills being poured out of a bottle on a hand

What Is Fentanyl Addiction?

Fentanyl addiction is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when individuals become dependent on the synthetic opioid drug fentanyl. People who misuse fentanyl by taking it without a prescription, taking larger doses than prescribed, or using it recreationally are at a higher risk of developing an addiction. The drug's ability to produce intense feelings of euphoria and relaxation can quickly lead to psychological and physical dependence.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Would you like more information about mental health or drug addiction? Reach out today.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction carries both physical and behavioral symptoms, including:

Physical Signs

Individuals experiencing fentanyl addiction may display various physical signs such as pinpoint pupils, drowsiness, and constipation, along with physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, shallow breathing, and significant weight loss.

Behavioral Changes

People struggling with fentanyl addiction often exhibit behavioral changes like increased secrecy, social withdrawal, and neglecting responsibilities. They may also engage in risky behaviors to obtain the drug, and may experience mood swings or sudden outbursts.

Fentanyl Addiction: Blurry picture of a man curled up with a needle in frame

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Every recovery journey is different. One patient may require different therapies than the other, for example, however the treatment process remains the same across the board, starting with the detoxification stage:


Detoxification is the first step in treating fentanyl addiction, aiming to rid the body of the drug. It involves medical supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms like nausea and anxiety. The process can last from a few days to a week, depending on the individual's usage level. In some cases, medications may be prescribed during detox to alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms. These medications help ease discomfort and reduce cravings for fentanyl, with medical professionals closely monitoring vital signs and providing support throughout the detox process.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient care offers intensive treatment for fentanyl addiction, providing a structured environment for recovery. Patients reside in a facility 24/7, receiving therapy, counseling, and medical support. This setting allows individuals to focus solely on their recovery without distractions. Therapeutic interventions such as individual counseling and group therapy are essential components of inpatient care. These sessions help patients address underlying issues contributing to their addiction and build coping strategies for relapse prevention.

Outpatient Support

Outpatient programs offer flexibility for people seeking treatment for fentanyl addiction while maintaining daily responsibilities. Patients attend scheduled therapy sessions and appointments but return home afterward. This option suits those with mild addiction or commitments they cannot leave. Outpatient support includes various therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management, which help patients modify addictive behaviors, build coping skills, and enhance motivation for recovery.


After completing a formal treatment program, aftercare plays a crucial role in maintaining sobriety post-rehabilitation. It includes ongoing support through counseling, support groups, and relapse prevention strategies to prevent relapse and promote long-term recovery success. Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) provide individuals with a network of peers facing similar challenges in overcoming fentanyl addiction, and offer encouragement, accountability, and guidance for those in recovery navigating life after rehab.

Fentanyl Addiction: Woman sitting in a stairway
CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Do you have more questions about mental health or drug addiction? Reach out.

Fentanyl Addiction Therapies

As a patient at an inpatient or outpatient treatment facility, you’ll undergo a variety of therapies that work in tandem to address your addiction, including:

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for fentanyl addiction involves using medications like methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These medications help people gradually reduce their dependence on fentanyl. Individuals undergoing MAT receive counseling and behavioral therapies alongside medication. This comprehensive approach addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, increasing the chances of successful recovery.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies play a crucial role in treating fentanyl addiction by helping individuals modify their attitudes and behaviors related to drug use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one such approach that focuses on identifying triggers and developing coping strategies. Contingency management is another effective behavioral therapy that uses positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from fentanyl. By rewarding desired behaviors such as clean drug tests or attendance at therapy sessions, patients are more motivated to stay drug-free.

Support Groups

Support groups provide a sense of community and understanding for individuals struggling with fentanyl addiction. Groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) offer a platform for sharing experiences, receiving encouragement, and building a support network. Attending support group meetings regularly can help individuals feel less isolated and more motivated to stay sober. Hearing success stories from others who have overcome addiction can also instill hope and determination in those still battling with fentanyl addiction.

Causes of Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction doesn’t typically arise from a single cause. It’s often the result of several factors, including:

Genetic Predisposition

Genetic predisposition plays a significant role in fentanyl addiction, with individuals having a family history of substance abuse being more prone to developing an addiction. This genetic vulnerability can increase the risk of dependence on fentanyl.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, such as peer pressure and stressful situations, can contribute to the onset of fentanyl addiction. Exposure to environments where drug use is normalized or encouraged can significantly influence an individual's likelihood of abusing fentanyl.

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors, including mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, can also contribute to fentanyl addiction. Individuals may turn to fentanyl as a way to cope with emotional pain or trauma, leading to dependency over time.

Easy Access

The easy accessibility of fentanyl, particularly through illicit channels and online sources, has fueled the rise in addiction cases. The availability of this potent opioid makes it easier for individuals to obtain and misuse, increasing the risk of addiction.

Pain Management

While prescribed for legitimate medical purposes, prolonged use of fentanyl for pain management can also lead to addiction. Patients prescribed fentanyl may develop a tolerance to the drug over time, requiring higher doses for pain relief and inadvertently fostering dependence.

Fentanyl Addiction: Friends listening to one another in a circle
CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Do you need advice about mental health or drug addiction? Reach out today.

Effects of Fentanyl

The impact of fentanyl addiction and abuse extends far beyond its intended analgesic effects, adversely impacting both your body and mind. Here’s how this powerful opioid affects various parts of your health:

Physical Effects

Fentanyl, a potent opioid, causes various physical effects on the body. It can lead to respiratory depression, resulting in slowed breathing and even respiratory arrest. The drug also suppresses the central nervous system, leading to drowsiness and confusion. Fentanyl can cause constipation and nausea, impacting the digestive system.

Psychological Effects

The psychological effects of fentanyl addiction are profound. Individuals may experience euphoria, followed by intense relaxation and sedation. However, this euphoric state is often short-lived, leading to intense cravings for more of the drug. Moreover, fentanyl abuse can trigger anxiety and mood swings, affecting mental well-being.

Brain Impact

Fentanyl exerts a significant impact on the brain's functioning. The drug binds to opioid receptors, altering the brain's perception of pain and pleasure. This interaction with the brain's chemistry can lead to a cycle of reward and reinforcement, reinforcing addictive behaviors over time.

Pleasure Pathways

In the brain, fentanyl hijacks the natural pleasure pathways. By flooding the brain with dopamine, the drug creates an artificial sense of pleasure that overrides natural rewards like food or social interactions. This disruption in pleasure pathways contributes to the drug's highly addictive nature.

Dependence Risk

One of the most concerning aspects of fentanyl addiction and use is its high risk of dependence. Due to its potency and rapid onset of action, individuals can quickly develop a tolerance to fentanyl, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. This escalating pattern increases the likelihood of physical and psychological dependence on the drug.

Fentanyl Addiction: Women comforting eachother

Recognizing Fentanyl Addiction

Along with disrupting your physical and psychological functions, fentanyl addiction also manifests in certain behaviors that typically require intervention. Here’s a breakdown of the behavioral patterns and risks associated with fentanyl:

Behavioral Signs

Recognizing fentanyl addiction often starts by identifying certain behavioral signs, such as social withdrawal and neglecting responsibilities. Individuals may exhibit mood swings and changes in sleep patterns, impacting their daily life significantly. They might also engage in secretive behavior, including lying about activities or displaying sudden financial problems. These behavioral signs can be subtle at first but gradually escalate over time.

Tolerance Development

Individuals experiencing fentanyl addiction often develop a tolerance to the drug, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects. This phenomenon occurs due to the body's adaptation to the drug, leading to diminished responses at previous doses. As tolerance develops, individuals may find themselves constantly seeking higher doses of fentanyl, putting them at an increased risk of overdose and other severe consequences.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl addiction can be intense and challenging to cope with. Individuals may experience severe cravings, muscle pain, nausea, and anxiety when attempting to reduce or stop fentanyl use. The discomfort associated with withdrawal often drives individuals back to using fentanyl to alleviate these distressing symptoms, perpetuating the cycle of addiction.

Dangers of Overdose

One of the most significant risks of fentanyl addiction is the potential for a fatal overdose. Due to its potency, even small amounts of fentanyl can lead to respiratory depression, resulting in breathing difficulties or cardiac arrest. Overdosing on fentanyl requires immediate medical attention, highlighting the critical need for awareness and prevention strategies within communities affected by this epidemic.

Relapse Prevention

For lasting recovery from fentanyl addiction, it’s essential to adopt a multifaceted approach to relapse prevention. This includes therapy, support groups, and lifestyle adjustments. Cultivating robust coping skills and resolving core issues is vital, along with participation in continuous treatment and joining a supportive community. These are all key factors when working to prevent relapse for those on the path to recovery.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

Would you like more information about mental health or drug addiction? Reach out today.

Mixing Fentanyl With Other Substances

Combining fentanyl with other substances, including central nervous system depressants like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or opioids, can lead to severe respiratory depression and a dramatically increased risk of overdose and fatality. Concurrent use with stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine may conceal fentanyl’s sedative effects, potentially leading to an unrecognized overdose. This mix can also accelerate the development of tolerance, dependence, and addiction to several drugs, making it exceptionally hazardous and best avoided entirely to prevent lethal outcomes.

Fentanyl Addiction & Overdose Statistics

The stark numbers surrounding fentanyl addiction and overdose paint a troubling picture of the opioid crisis. Here’s a concise overview of the current situation:

Addiction Statistics

Fentanyl addiction is a growing concern, with over 130,000 Americans seeking treatment annually and nearly 80% of users becoming addicted. This opioid, 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, poses a significant risk, especially to young adults aged 18-25 who may begin with prescription opioids and progress to fentanyl. Those with prior substance abuse or mental health issues are also at increased risk, and the drug’s black market prevalence and affordability further exacerbate its misuse.

Overdose Statistics

The recent surge in fentanyl overdose cases is a major factor in the opioid crisis, with over 93,000 U.S. overdose deaths in 2020, many involving fentanyl. Its high potency and frequent mixing with drugs like heroin or cocaine magnify overdose risks. The proliferation of synthetic opioids, mainly illicit fentanyl, is causing increased fatalities across demographics, highlighting the critical need for effective addiction and overdose prevention measures.

Fentanyl Addiction: Man with face in palm

Closing Thoughts

You now understand the severity of fentanyl addiction, from its symptoms and effects to available treatment options. Recognizing the signs early can be crucial in helping yourself or a loved one seek the necessary support, especially given the fatal nature of fentanyl and how often it’s cut into other substances. The time to act is now — because who’s to say that next hit won’t be your last?

Fentanyl addiction is a serious, delicate condition that requires professional help, and should never be faced alone. With a treatment center like The Edge Treatment Center, you’ll have the professional support and treatment resources you need to face and triumph over your fentanyl addiction with confidence.

Don’t Let That Next Hit Be Your Last — Recover With The Edge Treatment Center.

The road to recovery from fentanyl addiction can seem long and winding, but you’re not in this alone. The Edge Treatment Center offers personalized, evidence-based treatment for fentanyl addiction, with a compassionate staff that’s by your side every step of the way.

We’re aware that your recovery story is unique, and will provide the individualized care you need to overcome the physical, psychological, and emotional barriers that are holding you back. Through a mix of individual counseling, group therapy, experiential therapy, and much more, you’ll build the coping skills you need to overcome fentanyl addiction and sustain your sobriety for years to come.

Reach out to us today to take your first step toward a lifestyle free of fentanyl addiction.

Fentanyl Addiction: Friends having fun at the Santa Monica Pier

Treatment Modalities We Offer

The Edge Treatment Center offers a number of evidence-based therapies to support individuals throughout their recovery journey, such as:

Case Management

Case management provides vital assistance to patients, helping them navigate the time and resources needed for recovery, increasing their chances of reclaiming their lives from opioid dependence.


Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment that aids people in identifying and altering harmful thoughts and behaviors related to drug abuse, including misuse of fentanyl.


Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) supports individuals in recognizing their emotions and striving for positive change, crucial for those with a high tolerance to substances and battling addiction.


EMDR therapy addresses the traumatic memories that may trigger addiction, using eye movements to process these experiences and reduce their effect on one’s life.


Engaging in experiential activities helps those in recovery confront past traumas, often a significant factor in opioid abuse, and learn new ways to enjoy life without reliance on substances.

Family Counseling

Family counseling is key in supporting a person’s fight against fentanyl addiction, where family members play a critical role in fostering healing and resilience.

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a space where individuals share their experiences and support one another, reinforcing that no one is alone in their struggle against addiction.

Individual Therapy

Personalized individual therapy sessions address the unique challenges and behaviors of a person, guiding them on a path to a life free from drugs and alcohol.


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines behavioral therapies with approved medications to address opioid use disorders, supporting individuals in their time of need.


Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) uses magnetic fields to stimulate brain cells, offering hope in reducing intense cravings and breaking the cycle of addiction.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing empowers individuals to find their motivation for change, particularly effective for those dealing with cocaine or fentanyl addiction.

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care takes into account how trauma symptoms may influence a person’s addiction and recovery, ensuring a compassionate and effective treatment approach.

CTA background

We’re Here to Help You Find Your Way

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.


Frequently Asked Questions