Fentanyl Addiction Treatment and Recovery Guide
Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous drug that is a growing problem in Nevada and across the United States. In Nevada, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids accounted for around 15% of all 510 opioid overdose deaths in 2019, however, in 2020, this percentage jumped to 32.4% of all 788 opioid overdose deaths.1,17 This page will help you understand what fentanyl is, why it’s so dangerous, and how to get help for fentanyl addiction in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is part of the opioid class of drugs. Opioids are powerful painkillers, including both prescription drugs such as OxyContin and Vicodin and illicit (illegal) drugs such as heroin. As a prescription medicine, opioids are used to control both acute and chronic pain. Fentanyl, in particular, is used to control severe pain, such as pain associated with cancer, as fentanyl is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.2 Although fentanyl is a critically important tool for managing pain, it is also frequently misused and fentanyl and its chemically similar analogues are often made in illegal labs for street use.2
It is these illegal forms of fentanyl that are behind the massive increase in opioid overdoses in the last few years.2 Between May 2020 and April 2021, drug overdose deaths topped 100,000 for the first time in U.S. history; 64% of these deaths involved synthetic opioids.13 Illegally made fentanyl (IMF) is often sold as a powder, in nasal spray, as an eye dropper, or pressed into fake pills that look like prescription opioids or other drugs.8
As mentioned, IMFs pose a high risk of overdose. Not only because fentanyl is so much stronger than other opioids, but also because other drugs are often laced with IMFs without the user knowing about it.8 IMF is fairly cheap to make, and it is often used to cut heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and molly or ecstasy. It is also mixed with drugs pressed into counterfeit pills made to look like prescription opioids such as oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and alprazolam (Xanax); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall).18 The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that 42% of the counterfeit pills they tested contained at least 2 milligrams of fentanyl, which can be a lethal dose.14
Signs of opioid overdose include:14
- Unconscious (unable to waken) or extreme drowsiness/sleepiness.
- Slowed, shallow, irregular, or stopped breathing.
- Choking, snoring, or gurgling sounds.
- Limp body.
- Slow or no heartbeat.
- Skin that looks blue or is cold and clammy.
- Tiny pupils.
Breathing problems that happen during an opioid overdose decreases the amount of oxygen reaching the brain, which can cause coma, brain damage, or even death.11
What Are the Other Health Effects of Fentanyl?
Even when used as prescribed, fentanyl and other opioids can have some negative side effects beyond overdose. These include:8
- Passing out.
- Slowed breathing.
Long-term opioid use can lead to:10
- Dry mouth and nose.
- Irregular periods (menstruation).
- Erectile dysfunction.
- Damaged blood vessels in the eyes.
- Chronic constipation.
If you inject fentanyl or other drugs, this increases your risk of:10
- Heart infections.
- HIV or hepatitis.
- Hardened veins (sclerosis).
- Skin infections.
Anybody who uses fentanyl or other opioids may also develop tolerance, dependence, or addiction. Tolerance is when your body gets used to a drug and needs more and more of it to generate the same feelings it used to give you.9,11 Dependence essentially means that if you stop using fentanyl or other opioids, you will go through withdrawal.9,11
Dependence is not the same thing as addiction, but if you don’t have a doctor’s prescription for fentanyl, it is one of the criteria for the disease.11 A person who takes fentanyl or other opioids for a medically valid reason at the dose as directed by a doctor may develop a physical dependence, but this does not mean that they use it illegally or abuse it.11 Addiction is a chronic medical disease where you can’t stop using drugs no matter the harm they cause.9,11 Opioid use disorder, or OUD, is the clinical term for opioid addiction. In Nevada in 2019, roughly 14,000 adults had an OUD.15
If you are physically dependent on fentanyl and suddenly stop using it or greatly reduce your dose, you will go through withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal symptoms include:12
- Stomach pain.
- Bone and muscle pain.
- Runny nose.
- High blood pressure.
- Abnormal or rapid heartbeat.
- Excessive yawning.
- Problems sleeping(insomnia).
Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction in Las Vegas, Nevada
Professional medical detox is often the first step for many people seeking help with opioid use disorders. During medical detox, your care team will help keep you as comfortable and safe as possible while managing your withdrawal symptoms.12 This may include using prescription medicines, such as buprenorphine and methadone, to control certain symptoms and ease cravings.12 These medicines can also be helpful after detox as part of long-term recovery.
Of the 109 substance use treatment centers in Nevada in 2020:16
- 28 offered outpatient detox.
- 11 offered non-hospital inpatient detox.
- 9 offered hospital inpatient detox.
After detox, many people continue their recovery with inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation (rehab).12 At inpatient rehab, you live at the treatment center and get 24/7 care and support.12 During outpatient rehab, you go to treatment for a few hours per day or week while still living at home.12 Some people will go to an outpatient program as their first form of treatment, while others might first attend an inpatient treatment program before “stepping down” to an outpatient program.
If you’re wondering which treatment program is right for you, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. They can assess your treatment needs and suggest the right setting for your recovery needs. Some of the factors they’ll consider include:12
- If you have been to treatment before and what it was like for you.
- Your physical and mental health.
- If you use other substances.
- How long you have been using fentanyl or other opioids.
- Your support network.
Finding Fentanyl Addiction Treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada
American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of fentanyl and other opioid addiction treatment in Las Vegas, Nevada and across the United States. We can offer you a treatment program tailored to address your specific needs. Our compassionate and caring staff members will be there to support and guide you in your treatment and help you find your way to long-term recovery. Call our 24/7 free and confidential helpline at to get started on your journey to recovery today.
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Check your insurance coverage or text us your questions to learn more about treatment by American Addiction Centers (AAC).