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Fentanyl: Effects, Overdose, Withdrawal, and Treatment

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid medication that can be an effective prescription treatment for people suffering from severe pain.1 However, fentanyl can be diverted and illegally manufactured and is increasingly found in the illicit drug market.1, 2
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What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.2 Fentanyl may be prescribed to treat severe pain, including cancer and post-surgical pain, as well as chronic pain in people who are tolerant to other opioids.1, 3 However, people may misuse fentanyl for its effects, including euphoria and pain relief.2

Most cases of fentanyl-related harm, overdose, and death in the U.S. are associated with illicitly manufactured fentanyl.3 It may be combined or taken with other drugs, such as benzodiazepines or counterfeit pills, cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and methamphetamine.1 This can be dangerous as the high potency of fentanyl makes it easier to overdose, especially if a person doesn’t realize their drugs contain fentanyl.1

Fentanyl Effects

Fentanyl effects are similar to those of other opioids including:1

  • Euphoria.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Nausea.
  • Confusion.
  • Constipation.
  • Sedation.
  • Breathing difficulty.
  • Loss of consciousness.

Fentanyl Overdose

A fentanyl overdose is an opioid overdose, and it can occur when someone takes enough fentanyl or other opioids to overwhelm the body and produce potentially life-threatening effects.1 Anyone who takes fentanyl or other opioids is at increased risk of a potentially life-threatening overdose.5 Mixing fentanyl and other substances further increases that risk.6

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Repeated use of fentanyl or other opioids, in any context (i.e., medically, or otherwise), can result in dependence, which is a physiological adaptation resulting in withdrawal symptoms after someone abruptly cuts back or stops using an opioid.8

 Although dependence does not necessarily mean someone has an addiction, the associated phenomenon of opioid withdrawal is one of the diagnostic criteria for opioid use disorder (SUD).8

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl misuse or addiction, fentanyl addiction treatment can help. Research shows that effective, evidence-based treatment for a substance use disorder can help people safely stop using substances, maintain substance-free lifestyles, and regain control of their lives.10

Paying for Fentanyl Rehab

There are many ways to pay for fentanyl rehab, including paying for rehab with insurance, but there are also ways to pay for rehab without insurance. If you have insurance, substance use treatment is an essential benefit per the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the federal government requires Marketplace plans to offer some level of rehab coverage.15 Plans can vary, so it’s advisable to verify your specific coverage with your insurance carrier.15

Finding Fentanyl Addiction Rehab

If you’re interested in finding fentanyl addiction treatment, you can look for a rehab near you using our directories tool, which allows you to search for rehabs by accepted insurance, location, type of care, and more. You can also learn more about admissions to fentanyl rehab and instantly check your insurance by filling out the short form below.

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  • Dual-diagnosis treatment centers.
  • Personalized treatment plans.
  • Financial options available.
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