What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid that blocks pain receptors in the brain. In addition to providing pain relief, fentanyl boosts the production of the feel-good chemical dopamine. In medical settings, these physical and emotional side effects can improve the quality of life.

But in both medical and illicit settings, fentanyl also has its drawbacks.

Prescription Uses for Fentanyl

We want to believe that what our doctors recommend is always the safest option available. Unfortunately, this is not always the case when it comes to powerful opioids like fentanyl. For example, your doctor may recommend Duragesic to treat severe pain.

This high-level opioid analgesic can relieve severe pain related to a health condition, such as cancer, or something more short-term, like a painful surgery or the resetting of a broken bone. The effects of fentanyl kick in extremely quickly.

But is Duragesic addictive? What about Actiq lollipops and other forms of fentanyl? The answer is yes: all forms of fentanyl are addictive. The quick onset of pain relief can help make you more comfortable, but these side effects fade quickly and may leave you wanting more.

Both prescription and illicit versions of fentanyl can be highly addictive and trigger overwhelming fentanyl withdrawal symptoms when users abruptly stop taking it. However, illicit fentanyl use comes with additional risks, one of which is a higher risk of overdose.

Overdose Risk and Accidental Fentanyl Ingestion

Currently, synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are the main drivers of drug overdose deaths across the country. An overdose occurs when you ingest too much of something, but there are several ways that this may happen and several factors that increase the risk of overdose.

One of the biggest factors in recent spikes in accidental drug overdoses is the rising rates of dealers selling laced drugs with fentanyl in them. Counterfeit oxycodone, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs may all be laced with fentanyl without the user’s knowledge.

But fentanyl is highly potent, and spiked illicit drugs are not the only reason a user might overdose. A fentanyl high is quick and powerful but also short-lived. Tolerance can build quickly and lead users to ingest higher and higher doses to achieve the desired side effects.

This is another dangerous activity that may lead to overdose.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

How Fentanyl Became Widespread

Despite being one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs available by prescription today, fentanyl use remains widespread. But how did it get this way? Prescription opioid abuse has been on the rise since the late 1990s.

At that time, pharmaceutical companies that produced opioids assured the general medical community that they could confidently prescribe their patients opioids for pain relief without worrying about addiction.

Taking them at their word, doctors began prescribing opioids at higher rates. Consequently, reports of opioid misuse, addiction, and overdose rates began to rise. Over time, it became clear that opioid medications had a much higher risk of addiction than they initially believed.

Today, opioid abuse and addiction is a national crisis, which affects public health, social health, and economic welfare. Approximately 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Additionally, roughly 80% of heroin users misused prescription opioids first.

Signs of Fentanyl Dependence

Now that we know how common fentanyl dependence is, you may be looking for red flags. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell when we’ve crossed a line with our medications. The following are some of the most common signs of fentanyl dependence:

  • Experiencing drug cravings and other withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop taking fentanyl.
  • Taking more fentanyl to avoid unpleasant symptoms rather than to combat severe pain.
  • Suffering mood changes and abnormal thoughts.
  • Neglecting daily responsibilities, whether work or family-related, to spend more time taking fentanyl.
  • Switching doctors or lying to your primary care doctor to obtain a new fentanyl prescription.
  • Continuing to abuse fentanyl after it has started causing problems in the work, home, social, or financial aspect of your life.
  • Withdrawing from friends, loved ones, and hobbies, so they don’t notice or question your drug-seeking behaviors and habits.

If you recognize the signs of fentanyl dependence in yourself or a loved one, help is available.

Medical Detox vs. Cold Turkey Detox for Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. This potency can make it hard to overcome. But a monitored fentanyl detox helps clear your body and mind, making it easier for you to focus on building a healthier life and maintaining your sobriety.

This is generally considered the safest method for fentanyl withdrawal. It involves professionally approved and administered medications that help ease even the worst opioid withdrawal symptoms. For many, medical detox is a critical first step in addiction recovery.

In addition to easing withdrawal symptoms, medical detox provides you a safe and comfortable space to detox, allows us to monitor your progress, and helps us prepare your personalized care plan for continued treatment once you are stable.

This is particularly important with opioids because they often come with uncomfortable, painful, or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Safely getting through the detox stage opens the door to long-term recovery.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Choosing Inpatient Treatment for Fentanyl

You may be wondering what happens after medical detox for fentanyl. Depending on the severity of your addiction, we have several treatment program options available. Choosing inpatient treatment for fentanyl addiction is one of the most common next steps.

With 24-hour access to our staff, inpatient programs offer the highest level of care. Each day’s schedule is crafted with your mental and physical health in mind and features healthy meals, counseling, support groups, creative classes, outings, and more.

Our luxury-level facilities combine the comforts of home with the safety and support of proven treatment programs and methods. And this is true whether you stay and receive full-time care or visit weekly for outpatient meetings.

While the settings may change, we offer many of the same proven treatment methods in each of our programs because we know what works and want everyone to have access to it.

Building a Brighter Future without Fentanyl

Building a brighter future without fentanyl starts here. With personalized care plans, proven treatment methods, and experienced, dedicated teams, we offer everything you need to break free from the grip of addiction and start fresh.

Opioids are hard to overcome. For this reason, most recovering from opioid addiction choose to start with an inpatient program before transitioning into partial hospitalization or an intensive outpatient program. But the right path may look different for everyone.

We will help you make an informed decision by evaluating your addiction level and other needs before building a unique care plan that suits those needs. Because no two individuals are alike, no two treatment plans should be either.

Getting Started at Pathfinders Recovery Center

If you are struggling with or worried about the onset of fentanyl withdrawal, we can help. Our teams have spent over two decades helping individuals and their families recover from the toll of addiction and build better lives.

The best time to get help is now. Call our confidential line today at 877-224-0761. An addiction counselor is available 24/7 to provide more information and answer questions.


  • 7580 E Gray Rd Suite 201 Scottsdale, AZ 85260
  • (877) 224-0761
  • Mon-Sun: 24x7


  • 2953 S Peoria St. Suite 230 Aurora, CO 80014
  • (877) 224-0761
  • Mon-Sun: 24x7

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