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Fentanyl is a prescription-strength opiate, otherwise known as a narcotic or painkiller. It is similar to morphine, but up to 100 times more potent. Under the care of a physician, fentanyl may be administered or prescribed for pain.   

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The kind of fentanyl most often associated with recent overdoses, however, is lab-manufactured in ways that make it easy to get without a doctor’s involvement. Synthetic fentanyl can be dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers or nasal sprays, or “pressed” into pills that look like other prescription opioids. Pressed pills are combined (“cut”) with other drugs like benzodiazepines to make the user’s experience more intoxicating and addictive.  

Unfortunately, a highly potent opiate mixed with a highly potent sedative can overwhelm the body’s central nervous system. It’s no small wonder that over the last few years, drugs like Fentanyl have accounted for nearly 60% of all opioid-related deaths. The percentage continues to rise sharply. 

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Here are some signs you might be struggling with fentanyl abuse:  

  • Taking fentanyl for longer than initially planned 
  • Feeling unable to stop abusing fentanyl despite a genuine desire to  
  • Feeling afraid you will run out 
  • Lying about your use or hiding it from people who care about you 
  • Lying to doctors about pain to increase your prescription dose or frequency 
  • Spending much of your day procuring fentanyl, using it, or recovering from using it 
  • Feeling flu-like or withdrawal symptoms when you stop using or decrease the amount  
  • Constipation  
  • Itching 
  • Overdosing 
  • Driving under the influence 
  • Snorting, smoking or injecting fentanyl

Behavioral Effects of Fentanyl

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Fentanyl is highly addictive due to its potency and its mechanism of binding to our brain’s opioid receptors. Over time, our brains adapt to the presence of receptor-bound fentanyl and require more simply to achieve the same numbing, pain-free, happy feeling we experienced in the beginning. This tolerance can make normal emotions and physical pain feel intolerable, and pleasure impossible. At this point, fentanyl addiction takes over our lives and becomes the most important thing in our world.

We become willing to go to any lengths to support our addiction over all else. Seeking and using the drug often becomes more important than our loved ones, or jobs, the law, and ourselves. 

Physical Effects of Fentanyl

Without treatment and support, fentanyl addiction can be life-threatening. Here are some of the risks you run when abusing it: 

  • Overdose 
  • Sedation 
  • Confusion 
  • Nausea  
  • Irregular heartbeat 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Mood changes 
  • Decreased urine flow 
  • Physical dependence  
  • Slowed breathing  
  • Death 
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The body quickly adapts to the presence of the drug and withdrawal symptoms set in when use is reduced or stopped. These withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to: runny nose, watery eyes, sweating, chills, muscle and joint pain, stomach cramps, backache, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, severe anxiety and restlessness.

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We at HCBTS are available 24/7 to take your call and are committed to helping you get the help you need when you need it.

Read more about the levels of care we offer on our prescription drug abuse treatment page.

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Every member of our admissions team has been where you are today – be sure to ask them about their journey!