Fentanyl Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Programs

Fentanyl is a strong and addictive opioid drug that can be misused for its effects. Addiction treatment centers offer a range of programs to help individuals overcome fentanyl addiction and begin the journey towards recovery.

Fentanyl is an addictive opioid drug that carries a high risk of overdose when taken in any way other than prescribed. When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be effective for treating severe pain and chronic pain. Unfortunately, it’s widely misused for its effects.

Fentanyl can be misused in the following ways:

  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking fentanyl for reasons other than prescribed
  • mixing fentanyl with other drugs (including alcohol)
  • stealing fentanyl from someone else

In recent years, synthetic opioids like fentanyl have surpassed prescription opioids as the leading driver of the United States opioid crisis, which has had devastating effects on public health, as well as social and economic welfare. In 2018 alone, fentanyl was involved in more than 25,000 fatal drug overdoses.

Seeking treatment for fentanyl abuse and addiction can be life-saving. Treatment for opioid addiction can come in many forms, including inpatient and outpatient treatment.

At Spring Hill Recovery Center in Massachusetts, we know recovery from opioid addiction is possible. Here, you’ll find information on opioid and opiate abuse, signs of fentanyl addiction, and the types of treatment programs that are available in the New England region.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a very powerful opioid that can relieve moderate to severe pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than opiates like morphine and heroin. This means it can produce stronger effects in small doses. When misused, even small amounts of fentanyl can be deadly.

Fentanyl can be prescribed in the form of a transdermal patch, lozenge, liquid, or shot.

Common brand names for fentanyl products include:

  • Abstral
  • Actiq
  • Duragesic
  • Sublimaze

Illegally manufactured fentanyl may also come in the form of a powder, pill, or be put in nasal spray or eye droppers. Illicit forms of fentanyl are known by street names such as China white, apache, and China girl.

Street forms of fentanyl are often laced with other illegal drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, in order to amplify their effects. Taking drugs that are laced with fentanyl can pose life-threatening consequences. This can overwhelm the body and cause a life-threatening overdose.

What Does Fentanyl Do?

Like other prescription opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors. When taken, fentanyl can effectively change the way the central nervous system and brain respond to pain. It can also cause a range of additional side effects on mood and behavior.

Short-term side effects of fentanyl may include:

  • euphoria
  • calmness
  • drowsiness
  • slow breathing
  • reduced heart rate
  • stomach pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • constipation
  • itching

The effects of fentanyl on the brain can also reinforce repeated drug use. This, combined with the strength of the drug effects, is what makes fentanyl so addictive.

Taking fentanyl for more than a week may cause drug dependence, even when taken as prescribed. Drug dependence can make it difficult to stop taking fentanyl and may cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to quit.

Fentanyl Overdose: Signs And Symptoms

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accident-related death in the United States. Thousands of overdose deaths occur each year as a result of taking too much fentanyl or taking drugs that have been laced with fentanyl.

Among all opioid drugs, fentanyl carries an especially high risk of overdose due to its potency. Learning the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose can save a person’s life.

If someone you know is experiencing the following symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, call 911 right away:

  • shallow or stopped breathing
  • weak pulse
  • cold, clammy skin
  • dramatic changes in pupil size
  • unresponsiveness
  • bluish lips and fingernails
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • coma

An opioid overdose can be reversible when quickly treated. The primary treatment for opioid overdose is naloxone (Narcan), which can block the effects of opioids and prevent deadly outcomes.

Fentanyl Abuse And Addiction

Drug abuse is defined as taking drugs in any way other than prescribed. This includes taking illegally manufactured forms of fentanyl. People can become addicted to fentanyl through a pattern of repeated substance misuse.

Drug addiction is a physical and psychological disease that can affect how you think, feel, and behave. It can affect your health, your ability to keep a job, hurt your relationships, and make you unrecognizable to your loved ones.

Opioid addiction can also cause financial strain, long-term health damage, and make you feel like you have no way out. Overcoming opioid addiction may require intensive treatment.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Living with addiction can be painful and isolating. Getting treatment for addiction can help you find the strength you need to get sober and begin the journey towards lifelong recovery.

Opioid addiction treatment is offered in both inpatient and outpatient settings. The types of treatment that are available for opioid addiction can vary depending on where you live. Most people who are struggling with opioid addiction require intensive treatment, beginning with detox.

Fentanyl Withdrawal And Detox

Detoxification is the process of removing toxic substances—including drugs—from the body. Medical detox is the safest and most effective way to stop using fentanyl and avoid relapse. Within a medical detox center, patients can receive treatment for opioid withdrawal.

Opioid withdrawal can be highly uncomfortable and may cause severe dehydration and other complications without medical support. Withdrawal refers to a set of physical and psychological symptoms that can arise when someone who has become dependent on drugs tries to quit.

Detox professionals can administer medicine to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce drug cravings. Staff can also monitor patients for health concerns during the withdrawal process, and recommend further treatment based on each patient’s personal needs.

Inpatient Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Inpatient treatment is the most highly recommended form of treatment for people who have become addicted to opioids. This involves residing within an addiction rehab facility for a predetermined amount of time for 24-hour medical and behavioral support.

Inpatient rehab centers offer a safe and supervised environment for people to heal from the effects of their addiction and learn supportive strategies for an addiction-free life in recovery.

Specialty treatment programs offered in some rehab centers include:

  • dual diagnosis
  • holistic treatment
  • faith-based treatment
  • programs for pregnant patients
  • programs for elderly populations

Inpatient and residential treatment offer a structured program schedule. During the day, residents may attend substance abuse and mental health counseling, group therapy, and participate in other therapeutic and recreational activities. Residents may also regularly check in with a medical doctor and psychiatrist as needed.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment is one of the primary treatments for opioid addiction. This can be found in both inpatient and outpatient treatment settings.

Medication-assisted treatment is a “whole-person” treatment approach that uses supportive medications in addition to behavioral therapy to reduce drug cravings, prevent relapse, and improve health outcomes. The two most common medications used in MAT are buprenorphine (Suboxone) and methadone.

Outpatient Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Outpatient treatment is a less intensive form of treatment for people in early recovery from addiction. The amount of structure and support offered in outpatient treatment varies depending on the type of program.

Types of outpatient treatment programs include:


Aftercare services for opioid addiction offer long-term treatment planning to ensure individuals are appropriately supported in early recovery. This can be coordinated through a drug rehab center or an outpatient treatment provider.

Aftercare professionals can connect people to recovery-based resources, social services, and coordinate continued care in a long-term rehab facility or sober living home.

An aftercare specialist may also identify local support groups or other supportive resources for individuals to ensure they have access to ongoing support.

Signs Of Fentanyl Addiction

It can be hard to admit to yourself that you have a problem. Understanding common signs of addiction can help you identify whether you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction.

The following are common signs and symptoms of opioid addiction:

  • feeling a loss of control over your fentanyl use
  • being unable to reduce or stop your drug use
  • experiencing symptoms of withdrawal within hours of your last dose
  • constantly thinking about getting or using fentanyl
  • feeling like you have to take fentanyl to feel “normal”
  • continuing to take fentanyl despite negative consequences to physical and mental health

Living with addiction isn’t shameful or uncommon. Millions of people in the United States are estimated to have an opioid use disorder (OUD). Seeking treatment for opioid abuse is a sign of strength, not weakness. A healthier and more hopeful future in recovery is possible.

Begin Your Recovery Journey At Spring Hill

If you or a loved one is looking for opioid addiction treatment in the Greater New England area, look no further than Spring Hill Recovery Center in Ashby, Massachusetts.

Our New England rehab center offers residential and intensive outpatient programs for people overcoming opioid addiction.

We serve the following areas:

At Spring Hill, you’ll find a peaceful and supportive treatment environment that offers a wide array of treatments, including evidence-based services and holistic treatment. We also offer customized programming to ensure each resident’s treatment plan is tailored to meet their personal needs.

The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t kept Spring Hill from helping individuals get the treatment they need. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you or a loved one conquer addiction for good.

  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine—Fentanyl https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605043.html
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse—Opioid Overdose Crisis https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse—Fentanyl https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605043.html

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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