Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Abuse

Fentanyl can be a Lollipop

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opiate drugs on the market. It is not a long-lasting drug so it is often used for surgery recovery and for breakthrough pain—meaning that when a person is already taking an opiate but has temporary pain that breaks through the opiate barrier, they may be given fentanyl.

Time-release formulations for fentanyl provide strong pain relief over time. They come in two forms—a lollipop and a patch. Fentanyl also comes as a small piece of film that can be dissolved under the tongue and a pill meant to be lodged inside the cheek. In hospital settings, fentanyl can be injected. For the individual abusing the drug outside a hospital, this is highly dangerous, as the difference between a therapeutic dose and a deadly dose is very small.

As with any opiate, the main symptoms of fentanyl abuse are euphoria, drowsiness, lethargy and mellowness. Fentanyl very quickly creates a tolerance to high doses, so a dose that is adequate for the intended high one week will probably not create that intended high even a few days later.

There are many other signs and symptoms of using fentanyl, either medically or illicitly, that are not desirable.

These include:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Retention of urine
  • Suppression of breathing
  • Severe constipation
  • Itching or hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Bad dreams
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Swollen extremities

Addiction Is Also a Symptom of Fentanyl Abuse


In most cases, addiction is accompanied by a deterioration in personal integrity. It takes many unethical or criminal acts to maintain an addiction over time—either expenditure of large amounts of personal money or thefts, prescription fraud, doctor-shopping or other crimes, to get the drugs that are needed. A fentanyl addict normally has secrets from most or all of the people they encounter regularly. If the thefts are from a workplace, as often happens, they will be living a secret life while at work. Hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes are often the sites of fentanyl theft by desperate employees.

Different people become addicted at different rates. Some addicts try to prevent addiction by letting time pass between usages of strong opiates and others feel compelled to use the drug continuously once they start, which walks them straight into addiction. Those coming off heavy fentanyl abuse will often be weaned down to a lower level before going through withdrawal, as unsupported withdrawal from strong opiates can be brutal.

Recovering from Fentanyl Addiction at a Narconon Rehab

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehab program in some 45 locations around the world has developed a humane way of helping a person through withdrawal, and then taking them all the way to lasting sobriety.

If a person does not need weaning or medical detox, he can safely and tolerably come off his drugs in the Withdrawal Unit at a Narconon rehab facility. Each person is immediately given generous doses of nutritional supplements that help alleviate the worst of the body’s reactions to withdrawal. A person coming into a rehab is normally in a severely depleted condition, and these supplements begin the rebuilding process. They also assist the body in starting to eliminate the toxicity that exists from the drugs that were used.

Withdrawal Procedure

A number of methods and exercises have been developed that help a person both mentally and physically during withdrawal. Specific supplements can help with diarrhea, vomiting or other symptoms. Assists are simple and gentle procedures that help relieve physical pain and mental anxiety. Objective exercises calm a person’s mind and enable him to direct his attention toward recovery and the future and get attention off pain and the past. Those going through this process often remark on how manageable this withdrawal procedure is.

This is followed by an innovative detoxification step. Opiate abusers experience a mental fog from using these drugs (as do users of many drugs). Drug residues that are not fully eliminated from the body can cause this fog to persist, even long after drugs are discontinued. The Narconon New Life Detoxification combines sauna, exercise and nutrition to activate the body’s ability to flush out these residual toxins. The result is clearer thinking and an improved outlook on life. Most people also state that their cravings for drugs are greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.

Life Skills Must Then be Restored

Life Skills Course

A person who wishes to stay drug-free for the long haul must then overcome a mental or psychological need for drugs. This means building the skills to deal with life as it is, without hiding or trying to escape. This is the final phase of the Narconon program.

Learn how this program can help someone you love recover from an addiction that may seem hopeless.

See also Effects of Fentanyl Abuse


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