What are the Most Common Fentanyl Side Effects?

Educate yourself on fentanyl side effects and treatments available for those addicted to this opioid here.

Introduction to Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain, but it has a high potential for abuse. In this article, we’ll talk about fentanyl’s history, its impact on health, fentanyl side effects, its dangers, and how addiction can be treated.

Fentanyl Side Effects

Origin of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is derived from precursors or synthesized from scratch using basic chemicals. It was first synthesized in 1960 by Paul Janssen, a Belgian chemist, and was initially used as an intravenous anesthetic. Over time, it became highly effective in managing severe pain, such as cancer or pain after surgery.

Is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Fentanyl comes in different types – patches, lozenges, nasal sprays, injections, and tablets that you put under your tongue. The patch is the most common form for people with long-term pain. It goes on your skin and slowly gives medicine to your body over a few days. Doctors use fentanyl as a shot in hospitals to manage pain.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has high potential for abuse and leads to severe psychological or physical dependence. Fentanyl is used illicitly as a recreational drug, either on its own or mixed with other medications, like heroin or cocaine.

Fentanyl Side Effects and Risks

Fentanyl is an incredibly strong substance and can cause serious problems if used incorrectly. The worst that can happen is respiratory depression, where breathing slows down or even stops. If too much fentanyl is taken or if it is used with other drugs like alcohol or benzodiazepines, this leads to an overdose.1

Impacts on Wellness

Fentanyl side effects can impact mental, physical, emotional, financial, and social wellness. The effects of fentanyl on wellness can vary depending on the dosage, frequency of use, and individual tolerance. The most common impact of fentanyl on wellness includes:

  • Mental Effects: Fentanyl can change how you feel inside your head. It can make you feel happy, calm, confused, or sad. Some people may want to feel this way on purpose to get high, but it can also make them want more of the drug and become addicted.
  • Physical Effects: Fentanyl can make you feel different physically. You might feel dizzy, sick to your stomach, nauseated, constipated, or have a dry mouth and sweat a lot. Breathing problems are the worst thing that can happen, and they can even be deadly.
  • Financial Effects: Fentanyl addiction can significantly impact an individual’s finances. Addiction can lead to job loss, financial ruin, and homelessness. Getting help for fentanyl addiction can be costly, making it harder for a person struggling financially.
  • Social Effects: Being addicted to fentanyl can make you feel alone and make it hard to be around friends and family. People might start to treat you differently because of the addiction, which can make you feel bad and stop you from asking for help.
  • Emotional Effects: Fentanyl addiction can significantly impact an individual’s emotional well-being. Addiction can make you feel guilty, ashamed, and hopeless, leading to anxiety, depression, and many other mental health problems.

Mild to Severe Fentanyl Side Effects

Fentanyl is a strong opioid that is made in a laboratory. It is often used to treat pain, especially in people with cancer or who are having surgery. It is considered 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Like all medications, there are relevant and potentially risky fentanyl side effects, especially when used irresponsibly. The fentanyl side effects can vary in severity and can be different for each person.

Mild Fentanyl Side Effects

Mild fentanyl side effects can include:
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness
  • Sweating
  • Itching or rash
  • Weakness

Severe Fentanyl Side Effects

Severe fentanyl side effects can include:2
  • Respiratory depression or shallow breathing
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Seizures
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Coma
  • Overdose

As a patient it is vital to know these fentanyl side effects and that you ask your doctor if it is your best option for pain management. If it is prescribed to you, use only as directed.

Dangers and Considerations

Fentanyl is a potent opioid that can be dangerous if not used as directed by a healthcare provider. It is crucial to consider the following dangers and considerations before using fentanyl:

Addiction and Dependence

Fentanyl is highly addictive, and long-term use leads to dependence and addiction. It is essential to follow the prescribed dosage and avoid using fentanyl for non-medical purposes.


A fentanyl overdose is life-threatening and can occur with the first use. Overdose symptoms include severe respiratory depression, dizziness, confusion, and coma. Seek emergency medical attention immediately if an overdose is suspected.

Respiratory Depression

Fentanyl can cause respiratory depression, in which breathing slows down or stops altogether. It is the most severe side effect of fentanyl and is life-threatening.

Interactions With Other Drugs

Fentanyl can interact with other medicines, including alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other opioids, leading to severe fentanyl side effects and potential overdose.

Social Withdrawal

Being addicted to fentanyl can make you feel alone and make it hard to be around friends and family. People might start to treat you differently because of the addiction, leading to social isolation.


Fentanyl withdrawal can be severe and cause symptoms like muscle pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and anxiety. It is essential to seek medical attention if experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Consider Alternative Treatment Options

There are ways to help manage pain without fentanyl (mitigating the risk of potentially dangerous fentanyl side effects), including different types of medicine, doing physical therapy, or trying other things that do not involve medicine. It’s important to talk to a doctor about these options before using fentanyl.3

Lethality of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a potent opioid that can be lethal even at low doses. There are other ways to help manage pain that do not involve fentanyl. These include taking different types of medicine, doing physical therapy, or trying other things that do not involve medicine. It’s important to talk to a doctor about these options before using fentanyl.

The lethal dose of fentanyl varies depending on the individual’s tolerance, body weight, and route of administration. The lethal dose of fentanyl is thought to be about 2 milligrams or about the size of a few grains of salt. However, some individuals may be more sensitive to fentanyl, and even smaller amounts can be lethal.

Fentanyl Overdose

It’s important to recognize fentanyl side effects and symptoms of an overdose. A fentanyl overdose can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Overdose symptoms include severe respiratory depression, slowed heart rate, low blood pressure, cold and clammy skin, blue or purple lips and nails, and coma.
Fentanyl is particularly dangerous when used illicitly, as the drug’s potency and purity are unknown. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is often mixed with other substances, such as heroin or cocaine, and can lead to accidental overdose and death.4

Treatment Options for Addiction

Treatment options for fentanyl addiction typically involve a combination of behavioral therapies, medication-assisted treatment, and support services. The following are some of the common treatment options for fentanyl addiction:

Behavioral Therapies

These therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management, can teach people how to change their thoughts and behaviors related to drug use. They can help people understand why they use drugs and how to deal with problems in a healthy way. With these therapies, people can learn how to manage stress and other emotions without using drugs.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves using medications, such as buprenorphine or methadone, to help individuals with fentanyl addiction manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Support Services

Individual and group counseling, peer support groups, and case management are helpful services for individuals with fentanyl addiction. They offer extra support and resources for people trying to stay sober, address other mental health issues they may have, and improve their life in general.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment, such as residential rehab, can provide a structured environment for individuals with fentanyl addiction to focus on their recovery. Inpatient treatment can offer 24-hour medical supervision, behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and support services.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment, such as intensive outpatient programs or outpatient counseling, can treat fentanyl addiction while allowing individuals to continue their daily activities.

Find the Treatment Best Suited For You

It is important to note that treatment for fentanyl addiction is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and individualized treatment plans are necessary to address each individual’s needs and circumstances.
Fentanyl Side Effects

We’re Here To Help You Overcome Your Addiction

Being addicted to fentanyl is a serious problem that can put your life in danger, and it’s important to get help from experts. At Essence Healthcare, we know how complicated addiction is, and we help individuals struggling with substance use disorder through various different treatment modalities. We offer a plethora of different therapies, medicine, and support opportunities to help people manage their addiction, fight cravings, and get better in the long-term.

We can educate you or your loved ones on fentanyl use, fentanyl side effects, and the treatment options that will help you achieve lasting sobriety and wellness.

Reach Out to Essence Healthcare Today

If you or someone you care about has a problem with fentanyl addiction, you can start getting better by reaching out to Essence Healthcare. We have people who care and are trained to help, and who use the best ways to treat addiction. With their help, you can start a better and healthier life today.

Call us today to find out more about our treatment options and how we can help you or a loved one overcome fentanyl addiction.

Table of Contents

Questions About Treatment?

We are a patient-first substance abuse and mental health treatment facility located in Los Angeles, California. At Essence Healthcare, we provide different levels of care from detoxification to drug rehab aftercare. Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.

Individual Counseling