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Fentanyl Addiction


Fentanyl Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Fentanyl abuse and addiction claim thousands of lives annually in the United States. Recent research revealed that between 2020 and 2021, more than 75,000 people in this country died from an overdose that included synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl.[1] Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is so common today that the CDC found it was involved in about 22 deaths per every 100,000 people in 2021.

Fentanyl addiction is a complex condition, but effective treatment is available. Understanding what occurs during treatment may help you prepare to get the help you need. If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl addiction, please contact Mandala Healing Center today to discuss your treatment options.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid derived from the opium found in the seed pod of the opium poppy plant, similar to morphine.[2] However, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent. Doctors may prescribe fentanyl to relieve severe pain, but the drug should only be used for short periods because it has a high potential for abuse and addiction.

Fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain related to pain control and emotional regulation. These receptors also bind to endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that act as natural pain relief and provide pleasure. The body produces endorphins in response to pleasurable activities like exercise, sexual activity, and laughter. People who take fentanyl may experience both pain relief and euphoria.

In addition to pain relief and pleasure, fentanyl users may experience side effects that include:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Sedation
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

There are two basic types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Pharmaceutical fentanyl comes in many different forms, including:

  • Fentanyl Citrate (Actiq, Fentora, Lazanda) – Used for breakthrough cancer pain and is available in the form of lozenges, tablets, and nasal sprays.
  • Fentanyl Transdermal (Duragesic) – Used for chronic pain and is available in the form of a patch that is applied to the skin.
  • Fentanyl Buccal (Onsolis) – Used for breakthrough cancer pain and is available in the form of a film that is placed inside the cheek.
  • Fentanyl Sublingual (Abstral) – Used for breakthrough cancer pain and is available in the form of a tablet that is dissolved under the tongue.
  • Fentanyl Subcutaneous (Subsys) – Used for breakthrough cancer pain and is available in the form of a spray that is administered under the tongue.

Overdose is a risk to fentanyl users, especially those who misuse it. The majority of fentanyl overdose deaths involve illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which can be sold by itself or mixed in with other drugs such as heroin and counterfeit prescription pills.

During a fentanyl overdose, breathing can become dangerously slow or even stop, which is a life-threatening emergency. If you or someone near you exhibits signs of fentanyl overdose, call 911 immediately. Administer naloxone if it’s available.

Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

The pleasurable effects of fentanyl may make people want to take it in higher doses, for a longer period, or more frequently than prescribed. These behaviors can lead to physical and psychological dependence and addiction.

Recognizing the symptoms of fentanyl addiction is the first step toward getting treatment to overcome it. While addiction is a complex and deeply-rooted condition, it is also treatable. People can get the help they need to overcome addiction and live a healthy, sober lifestyle.

Some of the signs of fentanyl addiction include:

  • Using fentanyl without a prescription
  • Using fentanyl differently than prescribed–using it for longer, more frequently, or in higher doses than your doctor told you to
  • Spending a lot of time and energy getting, using, and recovering from using fentanyl
  • Neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Isolating yourself from others and giving up hobbies or interests
  • Developing tolerance to opioids, meaning you need to take more to get the same effects
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking Fentanyl or other opioids
  • Continuing to use opioids despite the consequences to your health, safety, and relationships
  • Having intense cravings for Fentanyl or other opioids

Even when using fentanyl as prescribed, developing signs of dependence or abuse the medication is possible. It’s essential to watch for signs of misuse and addiction and to seek treatment immediately.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

If you’ve been misusing fentanyl or other opioids and suddenly stop taking them, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms may include:[3]

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches and bone pain
  • Cold flashes, chills, and goosebumps
  • Uncontrollable leg twitches
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms may be intense and uncomfortable and can linger for days or weeks. Many people who attempt to detox at home may relapse before the process is complete because of the severity of their withdrawal symptoms. Seeking care in a medically-supported detox and treatment program gives you the best chance at a complete detox and full recovery from addiction.

What Happens in Fentanyl Addiction Treatment?

Fentanyl addiction is a complex condition that affects your mind, body, and behaviors. Comprehensive fentanyl addiction treatment programs use evidence-based therapies to address all of the components of addiction, allowing people to recover and move forward.

Fentanyl addiction treatment occurs in stages.


Medically-supported fentanyl detox programs in South Florida provide treatment, emotional support, and supervision, allowing people to manage their withdrawal symptoms and complete their detox. Treatment includes medications to relieve physical and emotional discomfort and emotional support.

Inpatient treatment

In an inpatient program, people receive around-the-clock support and supervision while getting the treatment they need to overcome their fentanyl addiction. Patients live in the treatment facility and focus solely on recovery for the duration of the program. Treatment plans include evidence-based and holistic therapies that address the complexities of addiction, such as:

  • Individual, group, and family therapy
  • Relapse-prevention education
  • Skills practice
  • Medications
  • Mental health treatment
  • Holistic therapies like yoga, exercise, nutrition support, and mindfulness

The length of time someone spends in inpatient treatment depends on the severity of their addiction, mental and physical health, and other personal factors.

Outpatient treatment

After completing inpatient treatment, people may transition into an outpatient fentanyl rehab program. These programs allow people to continue their fentanyl addiction treatment plans while working, attending school, caring for family members, and socializing. Programs meet several days per week or more, depending on the level of care.


After completing fentanyl rehab, people must create and follow an aftercare plan that keeps them active and engaged in recovery. This may include attending 12-step or other group support meetings, continuing individual therapy, or spending time in a sober living home.

Start Fentanyl Addiction Treatment in West Palm Beach, FL Today

At Mandala Healing Center, we inspire healing in our patients through compassionate care. Going beyond the conventional approach of detoxification, patients at our facility are inspired to fully heal in an environment designed to nourish their entire being.

Clients are taken on a journey of healing through complete immersion into evidence-based clinical modalities, multifaceted alternative therapies, and expert medical management, allowing them to fully detox and recover from drug and alcohol addictions. Through a program of care designed to encourage change, a foundation is created that allows clients to find their higher purpose and reclaim their lives.

If you or a loved one are suffering from fentanyl addiction or would like to learn more about your treatment options, please reach out to our dedicated admissions counselors today.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug Overdose Death Rates, Retrieved May 2023 from
  2. Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Fentanyl, Retrieved May 2023 from
  3. National Library of Medicine: Opioid Withdrawal, Retrieved May 2023 from