Fentanyl Addiction

Treatment Options at White House Recovery

Fentanyl is a common synthetic opioid prescribed by doctors or created and sold illegally. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states the drug is “50 to 100 times more potent” than morphine. Alternative names for prescription fentanyl include:

  • Actiq®
  • Duragesic®
  • Sublimaze®

Opioids are responsible for most overdose deaths in America. Among those commonly associated with substance use disorder (SUD), fentanyl causes the most accidental deaths and severe injuries. Approximately 59% of all overdose deaths in 2017 involved fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that opioid overdoses have increased by over 38% since the end of 2019. Very few drugs are as dangerous and prevalent. Learn more about general opioid addiction by visiting our Opiate Addiction page. 

What Is Fentanyl Addiction?

Medical professionals commonly prescribe fentanyl to treat chronic and severe pain. Due to the nature of the drug, a tolerance to the effects may develop over time, requiring more fentanyl to achieve the same level of relief. Opioids work by affecting the nervous system and creating a sense of euphoria and relief from discomfort or pain. The feeling can be addictive and rewire the pleasure centers of the brain. However, not everyone who takes medically prescribed fentanyl will abuse the substance.

Fentanyl comes in the form of transdermal patches, pills, sprays, or injections. Illegally created and sold fentanyl sometimes gets mixed with heroin, MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Street fentanyl gets sold under a variety of names, including:

  • China Girl, China Town, or China White
  • Dance Fever
  • Goodfellas
  • Great Bear
  • He-Man
  • Poison 
  • Tango & Cash


Common Complications You May Encounter

Multiple complications can occur when taking prescription or illegal fentanyl. Illegal forms of the substance are particularly dangerous, and the possible complications are not always foreseeable due to their potential to contain a cocktail of other drugs. If you or a loved one are abusing any form of fentanyl, and encounter unexpected side effects, seek medical assistance immediately. Unconsciousness, coma, or death may result if left untreated. Even seemingly benign symptoms could lead to potentially severe adverse reactions.  

Side effects you may encounter when taking this drug in amounts above the prescribed limit include:

  • Irritation around the site of a transdermal patch
  • Flu-like symptoms including nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, headache, cold flashes, dizziness, sweating, exhaustion, and constipation or diarrhea
  • Sleeping disturbances or insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Severely low blood pressure
  • Breathing that is shallow and fast
  • Dilated pupils
  • Muscle aches and weakness


Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Many individuals who take prescribed fentanyl later develop a dependency, increased tolerance, and potentially develop a substance abuse disorder. Indicators of prescription opioid misuse include:

  • “Doctor shopping” to get multiple prescriptions, including using online resources
  • Secretive behavior around taking the drug 
  • Hidden backup stashes around the house
  • A sudden unexplained disinterest in work, school, or social responsibilities
  • No longer interested in previously enjoyed activities
  • Unusual and sudden change in hygiene practices
  • An unexplained need for money
  • Stealing money or valuables
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Change in energy levels
  • Preoccupation with getting more fentanyl
  • Withdrawal effects after a certain period without taking the drug
  • Change in sleep and eating patterns
  • Sudden and unexplained weight loss

If you believe yourself or a loved one may have a substance abuse issue, talk to your doctor about getting help or call us today. Fentanyl addiction is treatable with the resources of local facilities like White House Recovery and Detox. In addition, you can learn life skills, critical thinking, and preventative steps to remain sober. No one should have to struggle alone with the effects of substance abuse disorder. 

Risk Factors Associated With Fentanyl Addiction

Researchers have not entirely determined why some individuals become addicted to fentanyl and others do not. However, known risk factors related to fentanyl abuse include the following:

  • Personal or family history of substance use disorders or mental health disorders
  • Current untreated mental health problems
  • Poverty or financial strain, including unemployment
  • Younger people are at a higher risk of abusing opioids
  • Experiencing trauma or acute stress


A genetic component sometimes plays a role in addition to the risks associated with environmental and health conditions. More research is needed to figure out the exact genetic connection. Anyone can become addicted to a substance even if they do not identify with the situations listed above. However, if you relate to one or more of the risk factors, disclose them to your doctor or care team to get proper treatment. 


Available Treatment and Therapy Options

Opioids are highly addictive and are accompanied by a range of health side effects, making it dangerous to quit “cold turkey.” Clients often require medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to transition off the substance safely. Medications used to treat the symptoms of fentanyl abuse include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone

In addition to physical side effects, SUDs also impact emotional and mental health. Psychotherapies known to successfully treat substance abuse involving synthetic opioids include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Contingency Management (CM)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)

We are here for you

Fentanyl is a common drug used to treat chronic pain caused by disability, injury, or illness. You do not have to keep living with the effects of a substance use disorder. Get help today by calling or speaking with a medical professional or contacting White House Recovery and Detox. Successful recovery starts with the first step. Take control of your future by getting the support you need and deserve. Successful treatment for fentanyl addiction takes place every day, and we believe everyone deserves a second chance.