- Fentanyl is a powerful painkiller with a high potential for abuse and dependency.
- Abuse of fentanyl can lead to life-threatening health problems including breathing problems, coma, and death.
- Treatment for fentanyl addiction should be professionally monitored to ensure medical safety.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic. It is a narcotic painkiller found in a class of drugs that includes morphine, oxycodone, heroin, and other opioids.1 It is a powerful drug, known to be nearly 100 times more potent that morphine,2 and 30-50 times more potent than heroin.3
Due to its remarkable potency, fentanyl is often reserved to treat severe and breakthrough pain experienced by cancer patients. Fentanyl is also used during certain surgical procedures and administered via injection to prepare patients for surgery.1
Similar to other opioid prescription drugs, fentanyl has a high potential for abuse. It is especially dangerous when misused or abused due to its potency, which creates a high risk of overdose.2
Illicit use frequently includes prescription fentanyl, however many overdoses have been linked to equally dangerous fentanyl-like compounds which are produced in illegal laboratories. These illicitly manufactured forms of fentanyl are often sold in powder form and used to lace street heroin.3
The effects of fentanyl use and abuse can include:1, 2
- Euphoric rush.
- Constipation, sometimes severe.
- Myoclonus or stiff, twitchy muscles.
- Intermittent loss of consciousness.
- Depressed respiratory rate and breathing problems.
- Respiratory arrest.
Fentanyl abuse and addiction can give rise to serious and potentially life-threatening health problems which can take a powerful hold over one’s life. The consequences can be severe and have profound, lasting effects on the user, their family, and their friends. Fortunately, help is available and recovery from fentanyl addiction is possible.
Recognizing the Problem
Acceptance of the problem is an important early step toward recovery, however many may find it difficult, embarrassing, or shameful to accept that they have a fentanyl addiction. As signs of a problem emerge and worsen, concerns may be raised by others before the user accepts and admits to having a problem.
Signs of Fentanyl Addiction
- Loss of control over use and/or using more fentanyl than intended.4
- Continued use despite physical, psychological, or social consequences.4
- Craving or strong urge to use.4
- Increased time spent to obtain, use, and/or recover from the effects of fentanyl.4
- Loss of interest in other activities that were once enjoyable.4
- Fentanyl use results in failure to fulfill responsibilities and obligations.4
- Using in harmful situations that place the user and others at risk (driving under the influence, using in dangerous place, injecting).4
- Tolerance (a need for increasing doses to achieve desired effects OR same dose stops producing desired effects).4
- Withdrawal symptoms after stopping abruptly or going “cold-turkey”.4
Due to the potent and potentially lethal nature of fentanyl it is also critical to know and recognize the symptoms of an overdose:5
- Shallow, infrequent and/or distressed breathing.
- Profound drowsiness, with frequent episodes of nodding off.
- An unrousable unconsciousness.
- Very small or “pinpoint” pupils.
- Cold, clammy skin.
- Bluish lips, fingernails.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Excessive physical weakness.
Choosing a Residential Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction Recovery
Accepting that you or a loved one is addicted to fentanyl will help pave the way toward recovery. Next, the user needs professional help. There are a variety of treatment options available. As an extremely potent narcotic, a fentanyl dependency may feel exceedingly tough to overcome on your own. Furthermore, fentanyl abuse can be lethal, so beginning recovery in the safety of a residential program may be necessary.
A comprehensive residential treatment program can help you begin the path to recovery with the safety and support needed to succeed. Most programs of this type will involve an intensive yet supportive approach to treatment, allowing you to safely detox from fentanyl, receive treatment for any co-occurring psychiatric disorders, receive attention for any medical issues that may be present, learn new skills to prepare you for effectively coping with stressful situations, and develop strategies to prevent relapse when you return to life at home.
How Long Does Rehab Take?
The appropriate length of rehab largely depends on addiction severity, availability of support systems and individual needs. Financial resources and/or insurance coverage for addiction treatment will have some influence on the program duration, as well. Individuals who used fentanyl heavily or over a long period of time are at greater risk of severe physical withdrawal symptoms and may be prescribed a medical detox program prior to initiating rehab.
Types of Treatment
Rehab programs vary in length, with many starting at 28-30 days for brief inpatient treatment to long term residential options that can range from 3-6 months or longer.
Standard residential recovery facilities provide a safe and supportive sober environment to stop using and stay clean when safety and support at home is not enough. These facilities provide basic needs for those in early recovery, including detoxification, medication assistance, therapy and counseling, and relapse prevention practice.
Private or Luxury:
Luxury facilities are typically more exclusive and offer more privacy both in the location of the facility and inside the facility where patients may be provided individual rooms. These facilities may offer a greater variety of therapies and activities to patients, as well as more premium amenities that normally might be found in high-end hotels or resorts. The focus remains on the wellness and recovery of the patient, but with greater comforts.
The most exclusive rehab options are executive facilities commonly used by CEOs, celebrities, and other public figures. These facilities are frequently the most expensive of the recovery options and offer the most luxurious amenities. Executive rehabs afford those in recovery a lot of privacy, but may also allow patients to stay connected to their business from the facility when their work does not permit an extended absence.
Other Specialized Treatment Programs:
In addition to the rehab programs already described, there are facilities that offer services for special populations such as gender-specific programs, adolescents, the LGBTQ community, and individuals suffering from co-occurring mental conditions and/or other substance use disorders. Some rehab programs offer services that differ from common treatment modalities such as holistic therapies and non-12 step approaches.
Paying for Rehab
When seeking residential treatment for a fentanyl addiction an important consideration is the cost of inpatient treatment. Make sure to inquire about the costs associated with care prior to choosing a rehab and whether the program accepts insurance or offers options to finance the cost of your treatment.
Taking the Next Step
Once you’ve completed rehab, it will be important that you follow the recommended aftercare plan as you continue on your path of recovery. Aftercare often involves the swap to ongoing, outpatient treatment programs in the community as well as participation in self-help or recovery support groups. Any rehab program you consider should be able to provide you or a family member with a variety of follow-up services that are designed to help you cope with the stresses of daily life while abstaining from future drug use.
Find the Right Fentanyl Recovery Program
Successful recovery from fentanyl addiction is possible. Please contact us today at for assistance in locating the treatment program that is right for you.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Fentanyl. Available at: http://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/fentanyl
. Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of Diversion Control. (2015). Fentanyl. Available at: http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/fentanyl.pdf
. Drug Enforcement Administration, Headquarter News. (2015). DEA Issues Nationwide Alert on Fentanyl as Threat to Health and Public Safety. Available at: http://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2015/hq031815.shtml
. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2015). Signs and Symptoms. Available at: https://ncadd.org/about-addiction/signs-and-symptoms/signs-and-symptoms
. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2012). Fentanyl. Available at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a605043.html