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Similar to morphine, fentanyl is a synthetic opiate analgesic that is often prescribed as a pain reliever, particularly in cases of moderate to severe breakthrough pain where patients have grown tolerant to narcotic pain relievers.

Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug, so it has a high potential for addiction and abuse. Data from the World Health Organization show that more than 2 million Americans are addicted to fentanyl and other prescription opiates. The DEA reported more than 1,000 deaths in the United States from fentanyl abuse in 2007.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Fentanyl Use

Fentanyl imbues feelings of euphoria, calm, and intense physical relaxation, which is partly why it makes such a good pain reliever. Some other common side effects of fentanyl use include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Skin reactions, including hives and itchiness
  • Sleep issues
  • Nausea and vomiting

Complications of Fentanyl Abuse

Fentanyl has a high potency and is readily available, increasing the potential for someone to become addicted with even one use. Addiction causes you to behave recklessly, often forcing you to do or say negative things and lash out at those you love. Addiction also seizes control of your life and prevents you from truly living the way you want.
Addiction to Fentanyl is also associated with the following health concerns:

  • Depression
  • Organ failure
  • Death

Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

While many people assume that addiction is a natural choice, in reality, it’s based on a chemical dependency. Taking fentanyl causes a flood of dopamine, a hormone responsible for, among other things, pleasure, reward, and motivation. Users will take fentanyl to consistently feel that sense of reward. However, your body will adjust by producing less dopamine, forcing you to take fentanyl just to feel normal.

Some common symptoms of fentanyl addiction that you should keep an eye out for include:

  • Relying on fentanyl to fall asleep or get out of bed
  • Using fentanyl without a prescription
  • Sudden anger or aggression
  • Neglecting responsibilities due to fentanyl use
  • Disinterest in life without fentanyl


  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • General aches and pains
  • Diarrhea and abdominal cramps

Medical Intervention for Fentanyl Addiction

Medication plays an important role in the recovery process. It can be used to balance out the chemicals in your body, curb cravings, or manage your withdrawal symptoms when they get to be too much.

Most doctors will combine medication with therapy for optimum treatment of fentanyl addiction. You will most likely be prescribed opiate receptor antagonists, which block the effects of opiates like fentanyl. The most popular of these is methadone.

Fentanyl Detox Process

Detox is an important first step in recovery. It involves discontinuing or tapering off of drug use to gradually flush toxins out of your body. The best option for detox is inpatient care, in which you admit yourself to a detox facility. Along with a supportive environment to undergo your detox treatment, inpatient care gives you access to a professional medical staff. This is advantageous as you can rely on them to administer medication, receive counseling when you need emotional support, and gain peace of mind in the event of any emergencies.

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