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Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. It is prescribed by doctors to help relieve severe pain, but it can also be found on the streets in an illicit form. Unfortunately, fentanyl has become a major contributor to the opioid epidemic, causing thousands of deaths each year.³

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How Fentanyl Addiction Develops

Like other opioids, fentanyl binds to opioid receptors in the brain and increases dopamine levels, resulting in feelings of euphoria and pain relief. ² However, with repeated use, the brain becomes dependent on fentanyl to release dopamine, leading to psychological and physical dependence.²

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Cold flashes

Individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms even after a single use, making fentanyl highly dangerous. Long-term abuse can also lead to severe respiratory depression, coma, and death.³ The effects of Fentanyl may also be detected in behavior, such as an individual acting secretive or erratic, neglecting responsibilities, and struggling with finances.

Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl Addiction

Opioid receptors are proteins located on the surface of cells, primarily found in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract. They are part of the body’s endogenous opioid system, which is involved in regulating pain, reward, and addictive behaviors. These receptors work by binding with both endogenous opioids (naturally produced in the body) and exogenous opioids (like fentanyl). ²

When an opioid binds to the body’s opioid receptors, it triggers a response in the cell, often reducing the sensation of pain or creating feelings of euphoria. However, repeated exposure to exogenous opioids can lead to increased tolerance and dependence, leading to severe cravings and addiction.³

In addition to the immediate dangers, long-term fentanyl addiction can cause lasting damage to physical and mental health.³ Some of the potential consequences from both illicit fentanyl and the prescription form include:

  • Permanent brain damage due to decreased oxygen supply
  • Organ damage, particularly to the liver and kidneys
  • Increased risk of infectious diseases through injection drug use
  • Worsening of any pre-existing mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty maintaining relationships and employment due to drug-seeking behavior and unpredictable mood swings.

Risk Factors with Fentanyl Use

Anyone who uses fentanyl, whether prescribed fentanyl or not, is at risk of developing addiction.³ However, certain factors can increase the likelihood of dependence and overdose:

  • Mixing fentanyl with other drugs, especially alcohol or benzodiazepines
  • Using fentanyl recreationally instead of for its intended medical purposes
  • Having a history of substance abuse or addiction
  • Genetics and family history of addiction
  • Using illegal fentanyl instead of prescribed pharmaceutical fentanyl

Fentanyl Overdose Risk and Prevention

Fentanyl is a highly potent drug, and even small amounts can cause an overdose. When an overdose occurs, an individual may experience slow or shallow breathing, loss of consciousness, and blue lips or fingertips.⁴ If you suspect someone has taken a lethal dose, call 911 immediately, as medical attention is important in preventing overdose deaths. Wait with the person until medical personnel arrive. They may dispense naloxone, a medication that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose.⁴

To prevent overdoses, it is essential to seek treatment for fentanyl addiction as soon as possible. Treatment may include a combination of therapies, such as medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, and support groups. It is also crucial to avoid mixing fentanyl with other substances and to use it only as prescribed. Fentanyl’s effects can be dangerous even when an individual has a prescription, however. Whether using illicitly manufactured fentanyl or not, it is important to seek addiction treatment when experiencing symptoms of abuse.⁴

understanding the risks of fentanyl addiction

Withdrawal Symptoms for Fentanyl Use and Other Opioids

Withdrawal from fentanyl can be challenging and uncomfortable, but it is a necessary step towards recovery. Opioid withdrawal symptoms may include³:

  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

These symptoms typically peak within the first 24 to 72 hours after the last dose and can last for several days or weeks. Seeking professional fentanyl addiction treatment can help make the withdrawal process more manageable and increase the chances of successful recovery.³

The duration of fentanyl withdrawal can vary from person to person. Factors such as the length and severity of addiction, method of use, and individual physiology can all affect the duration of withdrawal. Generally, acute withdrawal will peak within the first week and taper off after two weeks. However, post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) can cause prolonged symptoms that last for months or even years.³

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Get The Care You Need and Deserve

Woburn Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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Drug Abuse Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

The most effective treatment for fentanyl addiction is a comprehensive, individualized approach that addresses the physical, psychological, and social aspects of addiction.

Medical Detox for Opioid Drugs

The first step in treating fentanyl addiction is usually a medical detox program. Detox helps the body rid itself of the drug while managing withdrawal symptoms and preventing complications. A medical detox program typically includes close monitoring, medication to ease withdrawal symptoms, and support from addiction professionals.¹

Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab for Opioid Addiction

Following detox, individuals can continue their recovery journey with inpatient or outpatient treatment programs. Inpatient rehab provides 24/7 support and a structured environment for individuals to focus on their recovery. Outpatient rehab allows for more flexibility while providing therapy, counseling, and support groups. Types of outpatient services include partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and standard outpatient programs.¹

Behavioral Therapies for Substance Use Disorder

Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing, can help individuals understand their addiction and develop coping skills to prevent relapse. These therapies also address underlying issues that may have contributed to opioid use disorders. Family members are encouraged to participate.¹

Support Groups for Opioid Addiction Recovery

Support groups offer a sense of community and support from others who have gone through similar experiences with drug use. They can provide a safe space to share struggles and successes and offer encouragement for long-term recovery.

Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain Management

For individuals who initially used fentanyl for chronic pain, it is essential to find alternative treatments for managing pain. This can include non-opioid medicine- physical therapy, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture or massage. Having a safe way to control pain can help individuals stop using fentanyl illegally or taking other opioids despite harmful consequences.²

Are Other Synthetic Opioids Addictive?

Yes, other synthetic opioids are addictive and can have similar effects to fentanyl. Individuals taking opioid medications often seek these alternatives out from drug dealers when they can no longer get prescription fentanyl or other prescribed opioids like fentanyl.³ Some other synthetic opioids include:

  • Carfentanil
  • Tramadol
  • Methadone

Individuals may turn from prescription drugs to more illicit drugs, such as heroin, if they no longer have access to the prescribed form, hoping to get the same effects. Seeking addiction treatment for fentanyl misuse right away can help individuals before their drug addiction gets to this point.

Recovering from Opioid Use Disorder

Although fentanyl addiction is a dangerous and difficult disorder to overcome, it is possible with the right treatment and support. Seeking professional help can give individuals the tools and resources they need to achieve long-term recovery from fentanyl addiction and other opioids. If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction or other prescription opioids, seek help today to start the path toward recovery.

support for fentanyl addiction

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one is in need of fentanyl addiction treatment or substance use treatment for other drugs, contact Woburn Addiction Treatment today. Our team of compassionate medical professionals is dedicated to helping individuals overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery. We offer a range of options tailored to treat patients’ individual needs, including medical detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient programs, and aftercare support. Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need – reach out to us today and start your journey towards a healthier, drug-free life.

Resources for Fentanyl Addiction

Here are some resources to help individuals struggling with fentanyl addiction find support and treatment options:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Individuals can find educational resources and information about fentanyl and other opioids from SAMHSA. Additionally, SAMHSA provides a treatment facility locator tool that helps individuals find rehab addiction treatment centers.

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

NA is a global, community-based organization that offers support to individuals recovering from addiction to fentanyl and other drugs. The NA website provides information about meetings and resources for individuals seeking help for their addiction. It can be helpful for individuals to have a space to talk to others who have had their fentanyl addiction treated and are still sober.

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a self-help program for individuals looking to overcome addiction through cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques and support from peers. The SMART Recovery website includes an online community, resources, and tools for individuals struggling with fentanyl addiction.

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  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: a research-based guide (third edition).
  2. Sprouse-Blum AS, Smith G, Sugai D, Parsa FD. (2010). Understanding endorphins and their importance in pain management. Hawaii Med J, 69(3):70-1.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, February 23). Fentanyl facts.
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Naloxone.
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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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