Fentanyl is an opioid linked to the majority of opioid overdose deaths over the past several years. It is classified as a synthetic opioid, meaning it is made in a lab. The drug is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. Although fentanyl is available for legitimate medical reasons under brand names like Duragesic, Actiq, Fentora, Abstral and Lazanda, it is also available illegally. When sold on the streets, it can be found under street names like:

  • Apache 
  • Dance Fever 
  • Friend 
  • Goodfellas
  • Jackpot 
  • Murder 8 
  • Tango & Cash

If you or a loved one struggles with fentanyl, it is important to know what to expect with fentanyl addiction and how to seek help.

Understanding Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction is a worsening problem in Georgia. In 2020 alone, 896 Georgians died from an overdose of a synthetic opioid like fentanyl. However, matters have only worsened. Between 2020 and 2021, fentanyl overdoses in Georgia increased by 106.2%

Fentanyl is addictive because, as an opioid, it triggers the brain’s reward center. This means your brain associates opioids with pleasurable effects and encourages you to keep taking the drug to repeat these effects. Over time, this can lead to addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Signs and symptoms of fentanyl addiction often emerge when a person starts struggling with the substance. They generally include a combination of the following:

  1. Taking more fentanyl or for a longer time than intended
  2. Unsuccessful attempts to cut down on or control fentanyl use
  3. Spending a lot of time obtaining, taking or recovering from fentanyl
  4. Cravings for fentanyl
  5. Problems meeting obligations due to fentanyl
  6. Interpersonal issues caused by the use of fentanyl
  7. Giving up or cutting back on other activities due to fentanyl
  8. Using fentanyl even when it is dangerous to do so
  9. Taking fentanyl even though you know it is harmful
  10. Needing more fentanyl to achieve the same effects as before
  11. Withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop fentanyl

Side Effects of Fentanyl Addiction

When someone starts taking fentanyl regularly, they often begin showing some of the drug’s side effects. These effects can be both physical and psychological and include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swelling
  • Dehydration

Dangers of Fentanyl Abuse

One of the biggest dangers of fentanyl abuse and addiction is overdose. When a person has taken too much fentanyl, they are at a high risk of overdose. This is especially true if combining fentanyl with other substances like opioids. For example, in 2020, 16% of opioid overdose deaths also involved a benzodiazepine drug. If you believe someone is overdosing on fentanyl, you should immediately give naloxone and then call 911. Symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Slow or weak breathing
  • Choking sounds or gurgling
  • Limp muscles
  • Cold or clammy skin
  • Bluish lips or nails

Treatment For Fentanyl Addiction in Georgia

Help is available for Georgians who struggle with fentanyl. The Recovery Village Atlanta offers a continuum of treatment options to get you off fentanyl — and keep you off the drug — for good. By working through a fentanyl rehab program, you can get off the drug and learn coping skills for a fentanyl-free life.

Fentanyl Detox in Atlanta

The first step in fentanyl recovery is detox. Stopping fentanyl on your own is challenging, as quitting the potent opioid cold turkey can lead to withdrawal symptoms that are hard to overcome. These symptoms can include:

  • Muscle aches 
  • Insomnia 
  • Sweating 
  • Runny nose or eyes
  • Yawning 
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety 
  • Diarrhea

A medical detox program can help you through withdrawal while avoiding or minimizing these symptoms. While under round-the-clock medical care, doctors and nurses can treat your withdrawal symptoms as they arise. In addition, you may be a candidate for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with drugs like buprenorphine (Suboxone) as medically appropriate.

Inpatient Rehab Programs

Following medical detox, your body is cleansed of fentanyl. However, you are still at a very high risk of relapse until you explore why you began to use fentanyl and learn the coping skills required to avoid it. During this phase of recovery, inpatient rehab plays a key role.

During inpatient rehab, you live on-site at the recovery center. In this structured, sober living environment, your efforts can be entirely focused on your recovery and participating in the therapy and peer support groups necessary to teach healthy life skills. 

Outpatient Rehab Programs

You may be ready for outpatient rehab after inpatient rehab is complete. You live at home in outpatient rehab and return to the facility for therapy. However, several different kinds of outpatient rehab exist. These include:

  • Partial hospitalization: In partial hospitalization, you attend at least 20 hours of treatment each week at the facility but have the option of returning home at night.
  • Intensive outpatient: In intensive outpatient rehab, you spend nights at home but come to the facility for treatment 9–19 hours a week.
  • Traditional outpatient: Those who’ve entered this final level of care or who have milder addictions to start with may attend treatment for less than nine hours pre week.

Dual Diagnosis

Unfortunately, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are common in those who struggle with opioids like fentanyl. A dual diagnosis program treats both problems simultaneously, addressing your fentanyl addiction and any underlying mental health issues for the best outcomes.

Aftercare

Your recovery journey doesn’t end with rehab. To stay sober, you must maintain focus on your recovery. Aftercare programs help you remain focused on staying fentanyl-free over the long term. They may include relapse prevention plans, additional therapy, medical referrals, and other recovery resources.

Start Your Recovery Today

If you or a loved one struggles with fentanyl, you are not alone, and help is available. Through our continuum of medical detox, rehab and aftercare options, The Recovery Village Atlanta can help you overcome fentanyl addiction for good. Don’t wait: contact us today to see how we can help.

The Recovery Village - Atlanta
By – The Recovery Village Atlanta
The Recovery Village Atlanta builds tailored treatment plans with an understanding that addiction is a mental health disorder and a chronic disease. Read more
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Editor – Theresa Valenzky
Theresa Valenzky graduated from the University of Akron with a Bachelor of Arts in News/Mass Media Communication and a certificate in psychology. She is passionate about providing genuine information to encourage and guide healing in all aspects of life. Read more
Jessica-Pyhtila
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more
Sources

PsychDB. “Opioid Use Disorder.” May 3, 2021. Accessed September 25, 2022.

Georgia Department of Public Health. “Fentanyl Overdose Increases.” March 31, 2022. Accessed September 25, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Synthetic Opioid Overdose Data.” June 6, 2022. Accessed September 25, 2022.

Drugs.com. “Fentanyl.” March 3, 2022. Accessed September 25, 2022.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Benzodiazepines and Opioids.” April 21, 2022. Accessed September 25, 2022.

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Trea[…] Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed September 25, 2022.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Fentanyl Facts.” February 23, 2022. Accessed September 25, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village Atlanta aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.