Warning Signs of Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction

This article is an informational guide for those who suspect someone they care about may be using fentanyl. Before we discuss the warning signs of fentanyl- we will discuss what fentanyl is and why it is so dangerous.

What is Fentanyl?

Throughout the U.S., overdose deaths have been on the rise for years. We are amidst the worst overdose epidemic in recorded history! While there are various causes and factors, fentanyl is the largest culprit when it comes to surging overdose deaths.

Fentanyl is a medical-grade opioid used to treat severe pain after major surgery, during end-of-life care, or after major physical trauma such as a severe car accident. Fentanyl is extremely powerful- as much as 50-100 times as powerful as morphine. It is so powerful that a dose of a few milligrams could be deadly. This is roughly the same physical size as a small pinch of salt.

 Fentanyl has a high probability of misuse and often leads to severe psychological and/or physical dependency, especially in those individuals who are using it more than prescribed or who are not prescribed at all. 

That severe risk of dependency is reflected in national overdose statistics, with more than 75,000 U.S. citizens dying from opioid overdoses from April 2020 to April 2021 (most of these deaths primarily involved fatal doses of fentanyl).

Why has Fentanyl Grown in Popularity?

On the drug user side- fentanyl is extremely potent and provides powerfully euphoric effects almost immediately. It is also more cost-effective for the user than purchasing other prescription opioids.


On the drug trafficker side- fentanyl can be produced extremely inexpensively as it is synthetic. Many other opioids are plant-based and require growing and harvesting. This increases production costs and reduces profits. 


The ease with which fentanyl is produced has led to a large influx of fentanyl in the illicit drug supply. The majority of heroin seized in the US tested positive for fentanyl in 2021. It has also been observed in an increasing number of pressed pills. These are imitation pills made on the black market to mimic real pills such as Oxycodone, Vicodin, or Percocet. This means many users may not even be aware they are consuming fentanyl. As mentioned above fentanyl is extremely potent, making this a deadly combination.

Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction Symptoms

Below you will find some common warning signs and or symptoms of individuals who may be using fentanyl or other opioids.

Fentanyl Addiction Symptoms

  • Using fentanyl longer than planned or prescribed
  • Sending large amounts of time seeking, using, or recovering from using fentanyl
  • Having cravings to use fentanyl
  • An inability to complete duties at work, school, or home
  • Continuing to use fentanyl despite its negative impact on relationships
  • Losing interest in leisure activities
  • Increasing tolerance to fentanyl or needing to use more fentanyl to reach your desired effect.
  • Suffering withdrawal symptoms when not using fentanyl
  • Having pupils that appear extremely small
  • Being in possession of other drug paraphernalia such as glassine bags, syringes, straws or rolled up dollar bills, etc.
  • An individual having trouble keeping their eyes open or appearing to “fall asleep” at inappropriate times
  • Track marks or small circular wounds- this is indicative of IV use

Stopping Fentanyl use abruptly or at home can be extremely painful, and downright dangerous. Medically monitored withdrawal management, also known as detox, is necessary in most cases. Below are some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl.

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Hot or Cold Flashes
  • Goosebumps.
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Severe cravings
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sleep Disruption

Many if not all of these symptoms can be managed in a medically monitored withdrawal management program (detox).

While this article is by no means exhaustive, we hope it is a good starting point for a loved one suspecting fentanyl abuse. If you believe your loved one is struggling with fentanyl abuse or addiction- we are here to help!

Here at Harbor Wellness and Recovery Center, we offer various levels of care to treat fentanyl addiction, opioid addiction, heroin addiction, and other co-occurring conditions. For more information about our services please call us directly at 732-847-4555. We are available 24/7 to help. All calls are no obligation and are strictly confidential.