Fentanyl, the most widely used synthetic opioid in the medical field, has been spreading to the streets mixed with other illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine. Fentanyl is roughly 40-50 times more potent than heroin and is highly addictive. All it takes is a dose of fentanyl the size of three grains of sand to kill. Consequently, the number of fentanyl-related deaths across North America is rising sharply, especially in FL, OH, MI and PA. At Ambrosia Treatment Center in West Palm Beach, FL, we believe it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse and addiction in order to help prevent more deaths.

Commercial Names

Sublimaze, Actiq, Durogesic, Fentora, Haldid & Abstral

Street Names

Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT, Tango & Cash

Common Forms

Powder, Blotter Paper, Mixed With Heroin/Cocaine & Tablets

Common Ways Taken

Injected With Needles, Sucked like Candy & Placed On Skin With A Patch

Signs And Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction

Short-Term Effects of Fentanyl Abuse

Signs and symptoms of using fentanyl, either medically or illicitly, including:

  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Retention of urine
  • Suppression of breathing
  • Severe constipation
  • Itching or hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Headache
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Hallucinations
  • Shaking
  • Overdose

Long-Term Complications from Fentanyl Use

Addiction happens over time. Full physical dependence to a drug requires repeated use, which results in deteriorating health, including:

  • Collapsed veins
  • Abscesses (swollen tissue with pus)
  • Infection of the lining & valves of the heart
  • Respiratory depression
  • Constipation & stomach cramps
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Death

Fentanyl Tolerance & Control

Like heroin, morphine and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain that control pain and emotions. Dopamine levels are increased in the reward areas of the brain, creating feelings of euphoria and relaxation.

However, fentanyl quickly creates a tolerance, requiring more of the drug to create that euphoric feeling. Once in the user’s system, the negative effects are extremely difficult to stop, leading to:

  • Cravings – Fentanyl addicted individuals are afflicted with both psychological and physiological dependence. Finding it hard to concentrate on anything but the drug, they may not be able to eat, sleep or perform daily activities unless high.
  • Compulsion to use – Over time, users develop a physical need that compels them to give into their compulsions and use fentanyl, despite all the havoc the drug wreaks on their lives. Stopping becomes impossible, despite a strong desire to get clean and sober.
  • Loss of control – Addicts use more and more each day. Their tolerance builds to the point where they are no longer even chasing the euphoria, but instead using just to avoid withdrawal symptoms.



  • The first time I tried fentanyl-laced heroin, I immediately knew something was different. My eyes wouldn’t stay open. My legs were wobbly. The second time I used, I woke up a few days later on the tile bathroom floor. It became progressively worse, it ended with my friend OD’ing next to me, but I was too out of it to save him. I entered treatment at Ambrosia shortly after, unwilling to change my life. But I had enough and committed to a 30-day program. I wish I would have known the things I learned in treatment while I was in active addiction, but I know I don’t need to go back to that way of life. Ambrosia helped change my perspective and my manner of living.

    Laura E.
  • The night I overdosed, I had been given a concoction of heroin and fentanyl. I didn’t realize how much stronger the dose was, so I kept taking more and more. I am lucky to have lived through the experience that finally got me sober. I entered treatment in Florida and my entire outlook upon life had changed. Ambrosia gave me the tools to be honest with myself and others. I’m just as dedicated to my recovery as I was to my addiction.

    Anthony K.
  • I was hooked on heroin for a few years until I was introduced to pure Fentanyl. It was a drastic change in my using and my life, it brought me to my knees. When I finally had enough of feeling miserable, I decided to get honest and clean. Best decision of my life came from the worst feeling I ever felt. The therapists at Ambrosia helped me look at the real reasons I began using drugs in the first place. Ambrosia took my crutches for using away, but in the end helped me walk on my own.

    Heather L.

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