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Is Fentanyl an Opioid?

To many people, fentanyl is known as an opioid. It is a synthetic narcotic analgesic similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Fentanyl was introduced in the 1960s and has been used medically as transdermal patches, tablets, and nasal sprays.


Recently, however, fentanyl has become more well-known as a drug being trafficked on the street and abused illegally. Fentanyl can be deadly in minimal doses, so it is essential to understand what this drug is and how to protect yourself from its risks.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an opioid derivative that was first synthesized from the opium plant. After major surgery, doctors often prescribe it as a pain relief option for patients.


Moreover, doctors may prescribe fentanyl to cancer patients with long-term pain if the patient has established sensitivity to other opioids.


When administered, fentanyl attaches to opioid receptors in the brain's reward and pleasure centers, reducing pain and emotional distress. A natural opioid analgesic called endorphin binds to these similar receptors. The body's natural reaction to a stressor or discomfort triggers the production of beta-endorphins, one of the numerous forms of endorphins.


It's not only physical activity or eating a healthy diet that causes the production of endorphins; it's also doing activities that make you happy. Opioid receptors are involved in the reward circuit, providing analgesia and euphoria when activated.


Opioid medicines provide enhanced analgesia but also cause an overflow of the brain's reward circuit impulses, leading to feelings of pleasure, which may be counterproductive.


Opioid abuse is the medical name for addiction to fentanyl or other opioids. As the brain adjusts to the availability of opioids with prolonged usage, it may become difficult to experience euphoria without opioids like fentanyl. This can fail to derive pleasure from activities one previously enjoyed.


Fentanyl is administered to patients through injection, tablet, or patch. However, illicitly made fentanyl is often found in liquid or powder form.


It is usually blended with other substances like heroin, amphetamine, and cocaine since it has no flavor, odor, or identifying characteristics and is inexpensive to develop illegitimately.


It is also shaped into tablets that resemble common prescription drugs like Valium and Ritalin. Fentanyl is sometimes used in liquid forms, such as eye drops, nasal sprays, etc.

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Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

The first step in overcoming an opioid addiction is realizing that you have a problem. Many factors, including brain circuitry, genetics, upbringing, and environmental factors, cause addiction.


Still, it is essential to remember that it is a chronic medical problem that can be treated. People who suffer from addiction use substances in an unhealthy way and continue to do so despite the adverse effects on their lives.


Professionals qualified to diagnose opioid use disorders and other drug use disorders utilize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to determine whether or not a patient meets the criteria for a substance use disorder, in this case, fentanyl addiction.


The following signs and symptoms characterize opioid addiction:


  • Excessive opioid use.

  • Overusing a drug that reduces pain and suffering.

  • Investing a considerable amount of time in acquiring, using, or recuperating from the consequences of fentanyl. 

  • Experience intense desires to take fentanyl or other opioids.

  • Opioid-related dysfunction is characterized by a lack of capacity to carry out daily responsibilities at home, in the workplace, or elsewhere.

  • Keep using fentanyl or other opioids despite its damage to personal relationships.

  • Adverse effects of opioid usage include giving up hobbies and interests.

  • Taking fentanyl or similar painkillers regularly while in potentially harmful settings.

  • Refusing to stop using opioids despite experiencing adverse mental or physical effects.

  • The development of tolerance to opioids.

  • Suffering from opioid withdrawal after ceasing fentanyl or another opioid.

Rolling Hills Recovery Center offers free 24/7 fentanyl addiction support. Call today and confidentially speak with our addiction specialists at 855-559-8550.

Side Effects of Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl, like any other medication, may have unwanted consequences.


  • Nausea.

  • Confusion.

  • Lethargy.

  • Deep, slower breaths.

  • Headache.

  • Relaxation.

  • Cerebral hypoxia.

Overdose is more likely in those who use fentanyl or other opioid drugs. In addition, you may have overdosed if you have severe, perhaps fatal adverse effects after taking fentanyl.


For example, toxic levels of fentanyl may cause respiratory depression or cessation, leading to hypoxia (insufficient oxygen reaching the brain).


The effects of hypoxia range from mild fatigue to coma and brain damage, and even possibly death. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication that may reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Treatment at Rolling Hills Recovery Center

An Overview of Fentanyl Treatment Programs

Help is available for you or a loved one with fentanyl or opioid addiction. Therapy for fentanyl abuse is not a uniform process. Effective treatment is individualized for each patient but may consist of the following:


Many treatment programs begin with a medically supervised detox phase. During detox, your body can efficiently eliminate fentanyl while experiencing withdrawal symptoms (both physical and mental) in a secure and comfortable environment under the supervision of a medical practitioner.

Residential Treatment

Inpatient care is provided around the clock. Therefore, you will need to check into an inpatient or residential treatment facility for the duration of your therapy.


During that time, you will engage in various therapeutic interventions, including individual and group therapy, educational programming, behavioral treatments, and, in some cases, medication.


Living at the institution where you are receiving treatment enables you to concentrate on your rehabilitation without the distractions of everyday life.

Outpatient Rehab

While inpatient programs necessitate staying in a facility 24/7, outpatient programs let patients return home or to an independent living facility after completing their rehabilitation and therapy sessions.


Aftercare, or ongoing care, is provided to those who have completed a rehabilitation program and can consist of collaborative groups and sober living activities to assist them in maintaining their sobriety and preventing relapse.


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Residential Treatment
An Overview of Fentanyl Treatment Programs
What is fentanyl?​​​
Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction
Side Effects of Fentanyl Addiction
Outpatient Rehab

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