Fentanyl addiction

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is fifty to one hundred times more potent. It is typically prescribed to treat patients with severe pain or to manage pain after surgery but has also become one of the most commonly abused drugs in the world due to fentanyl’s high potency and the sheer number of people who have become addicted to it. Fentanyl overdose is a serious problem and there have even been high-profile cases such as that of Prince where people have died after taking pills that they didn’t realise were laced with the drug. Fentanyl addiction is a serious condition that requires professional treatment but with the proper care, you can recover and live a healthy, drug-free life.

Fentanyl addiction needle

What is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?

Fentanyl was first developed in the 1960s as a powerful painkiller but it was not until the 1990s that it began to be used more widely in medical settings. When used correctly, fentanyl can provide relief for severe pain, but because of its extreme potency, it has a high potential for abuse and addiction. In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths due to the drug being sold illegally on the streets. Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs such as heroin or cocaine to increase its potency which makes it even more dangerous.

In the US, the damage caused by fentanyl during the current opiate addiction crisis is so severe that people have even become afraid of sweets being laced with the drug and handed out to children on Halloween. While this may sound unbelievable, it just shows the fear that this awful drug has instilled in communities as a result of the death and devastation it has caused.

How does fentanyl addiction develop?

There are two main routes to fentanyl addiction: through legal prescriptions and through illegal drug use.

Prescription drug addiction can develop quickly, even when taking fentanyl as prescribed, because of its high potency. Sadly, many people who become addicted to fentanyl or have other forms of opiate addiction have never had any substance abuse issues before but were prescribed drugs for legitimate pain relief and end up developing an addiction. Those who abuse fentanyl illegally are at an even higher risk of becoming addicted due to taking the drug in higher doses or mixing it with other substances.

Some people may abuse fentanyl and become addicted to it without even realising they are taking it. This is because street drugs such as heroin or cocaine are often laced with fentanyl to make them more potent. Users experience a uniquely powerful high and then return to the same dealer repeatedly believing that they have the best drugs. This can ultimately lead to tolerance (where more of the substance is needed for the same effect) dependence, in which you need it just to feel normal, and then full physical and psychological addiction.

Which underlying causes can lead to fentanyl addiction?

While anyone can develop an addiction to fentanyl, those with underlying causes are more likely to become addicted. These include:

  • Medical conditions causing chronic pain
  • A history of substance abuse
  • Existing mental illnesses
  • A family history of addiction or substance abuse
  • Trauma or adverse childhood experiences

Do I need fentanyl addiction treatment?

There are a number of signs and symptoms that can indicate you are addicted to fentanyl. It is crucial that you spot these signs as early as possible because the potency of fentanyl means that there is a constant risk of serious health issues. Here are some questions to ask yourself which can indicate fentanyl addiction signs:

  • Do I take more fentanyl than prescribed or for longer than prescribed?
  • Have I been “doctor shopping” where I visit multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions for fentanyl?
  • Do I use fentanyl even when it is not prescribed for me?
  • Do I feel like I need to take fentanyl to get through the day or cope with my problems?
  • Have I tried to quit taking fentanyl but been unsuccessful due to fentanyl withdrawal symptoms?
  • Has my fentanyl use led to problems at work, school or home?
  • Have I developed financial or legal problems as a result of my fentanyl use?
  • Do I spend a lot of time obsessing about fentanyl or obtaining fentanyl?
  • Have I taken a different opiate or opioid because I couldn’t get fentanyl?

If the answer to these questions is yes then it is vital that you seek fentanyl addiction treatment as soon as possible. Even a tiny amount of fentanyl can lead to a fatal overdose so the risk is always there if you are using the drug.

What are the health and social effects of fentanyl abuse and addiction?

Fentanyl has ravaged entire communities in the USA with over 80,000 people dying from fentanyl in 2021 alone and while the UK has thankfully not seen the same levels of destruction, the drug is becoming more and more prevalent. The health effects of fentanyl are numerous and extremely serious, even leading to death in some cases.

The physical effects of fentanyl include:

  • Severe respiratory depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Seizures
  • Slow heart rate
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Death

The mental health effects of fentanyl include:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychosis

Fentanyl addiction man with anxiety

Fentanyl addiction also has a number of social effects which can be just as destructive as the physical health effects. These include:

  • Strained or broken relationships with family and friends
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed
  • Problems at work or school due to absences or poor performance
  • Financial problems due to the cost of fentanyl
  • Criminality to fund a fentanyl addiction
  • Isolation and social withdrawal

What are the stages of fentanyl addiction treatment?

The three main stages of fentanyl addiction treatment are detox, rehab and aftercare, each of which plays an important role in effective recovery.

Fentanyl detox

Fentanyl detox is the process of clearing the drug from your system and is the first step on the road to recovery. It is important that detox is always carried out in an inpatient detox centre like Liberty House because of the potentially dangerous fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. These can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhoea
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Seizures
  • Psychosis

Withdrawal symptoms can start as early as six hours after the last dose of fentanyl and can last for weeks. This is why medically supported detox is essential to help you through this difficult time. Our team of doctors and psychologists will medically assess you before you begin fentanyl detox and will monitor you throughout the process to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. They may also administer medication to help with the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl rehab

Alongside detox, you will also undergo fentanyl rehab at Liberty House. Rehab treatment is all about addressing the psychological aspects of your addiction and learning new skills to help you in your recovery. Inpatient fentanyl rehab is usually the safest and most effective treatment option because it provides an immersive recovery environment, shields you from access to fentanyl and gives you the chance to focus solely on your recovery. At Liberty House, we foster a real sense of community where all our clients and staff work together to support each other in recovery.

Our fentanyl rehab programme includes a range of evidence-based addiction therapies including:

  • Group therapy: This is a key part of our fentanyl rehab programme as it provides an opportunity for you to share your experiences with others who are going through the same thing. It also helps to build a support network which can be vital in early recovery.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT is a talking therapy that can help you to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and behaviours that are fuelling your fentanyl addiction.
    One-to-one therapy: This is an opportunity for you to explore your fentanyl addiction in more depth with a qualified therapist who has also been through recovery, and has first-hand experience and knowledge of your situation.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy can help to repair the damage that has been caused by fentanyl addiction and rebuild relationships.
  • Motivational interviewing: This therapy can help to increase your motivation for change by exploring the reasons why you want to recover from fentanyl addiction.

Fentanyl addiction group therapy

We also offer a number of holistic therapies which can be extremely helpful in the recovery process, including yoga, meditation, art therapy and mindfulness.


Aftercare is an important part of fentanyl addiction treatment and at Liberty House, we offer twelve months of free weekly group therapy sessions to all our clients. This gives you the time you need to adjust to life without fentanyl and to put into practice all the skills you have learned during detox and rehab. Aftercare will also provide you with the same community spirit and support that you found during fentanyl rehab and will help to prevent relapse.

How to access fentanyl addiction treatment

If you are ready to start your recovery journey, get in touch with Liberty House today. We will answer any questions you have and help to make all the arrangements for you to begin fentanyl addiction treatment and start a whole new life.

Frequently asked questions

Is fentanyl addiction a serious problem in the UK?
The UK has not seen the same level of increase in fentanyl addiction and overdoses as the US. However, the number of people using fentanyl is rising. While everyone hopes fentanyl addiction numbers in the UK remain relatively low, for those who are addicted to fentanyl, the condition can cause enormous harm. This is why it is so important to seek professional fentanyl addiction treatment as soon as possible.
How long does fentanyl rehab take?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as the length of time you will need in fentanyl rehab will depend on a number of factors such as the severity of your addiction and how long you have been using fentanyl. To cater to all our clients’ individual needs, Liberty House offers four lengths of fentanyl rehab: two weeks, four weeks, eight weeks and twelve weeks.
Can fentanyl abuse and addiction be fatal?
To answer yes to this question is a major understatement. Fentanyl is incredibly potent and even a tiny amount can be fatal. In fact, fentanyl is now the drug most responsible for overdose deaths in the US. This just goes to show how dangerous fentanyl addiction can be and why it is so important to seek professional help as soon as possible if you think you may have a problem.