What are the Long-Term Effects of Fentanyl on The User?

November 15, 2021

The reason people turn to drugs are varied. For some, illicit substances like cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy continue to be used for recreational purposes. But for many, drugs– in this case, medication– is a way to manage their illnesses.  However, some some people abuse their medication.

But whatever the situation involving drugs, there will always be a potential for addiction. When taking medication, misuse, abuse, and addiction can happen when you develop a tolerance. Once this happens, you’ll tend to increase your dosage to get some effect. At the same time, you might make your intake more frequent.

Addiction to medication is just as dangerous as taking illicit drugs. This article aims to show the symptoms and effects of long-term drug use, particularly that of fentanyl. With this knowledge, you can avoid making the mistake of misusing it or, hopefully, help someone who already is.

What Is Fentanyl?

A synthetic opioid, fentanyl is a prescription drug that typically treats patients with severe pain (e.g., after surgery, nerve damage, serious injury). It also treats people with chronic pain, particularly those who are physically tolerant to other opioids.

This drug is similar to morphine in that it treats pain but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

Prescription fentanyl comes in many forms:

  • Lozenges you suck, like cough drops or on a stick
  • Patches that you put on your skin
  • A shot through injection or IV
  • A buccal tablet that you dissolve between your gums and cheek
  • A sublingual tablet or spray that you dissolve or spray under your tongue
  • A nasal spray that you spray into your nose


As a prescription medication, fentanyl comes in a variety of names such as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®.

Adverse Effects Of Long Term Use Of Fentanyl

While fentanyl is a prescribed medication, it’s still made and used illegally. With that, both patients and recreational users are at risk for fentanyl addiction and overdose. An article from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) mentions that 59% of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl.

Fentanyl has adverse effects in the long run, especially if used irresponsibly.

Respiratory and heart problems

An opioid painkiller, fentanyl targets the central nervous system (CNS). So naturally, long-term use and abuse can do some damage to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

Other long-term effects of fentanyl on the body are:

  • Constipation
  • Reduced libido
  • Unstable moods
  • Menstrual problems
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Overdosing is among the most dangerous things that can happen when taking fentanyl or any other drug. In a lot of cases, a fentanyl overdose can become deadly if not handled immediately and properly.

Because fentanyl affects the central nervous system also known as CNS, an overdose could overwhelm it. The pathways that control breathing, and heart function will be disrupted.

Signs of a fentanyl overdose include:

  • Exceptionally shallow or slow breathing
  • Inability to talk
  • Sedation
  • Trouble walking
  • Confusion
  • Faintness
  • Drowsiness
  • Constricted pupils
  • Blue-tinted skin due to the lack of oxygen


Many of those who overdose on fentanyl fall asleep and never wake up. Moreover, combining the drug with other substances like alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids has a similar effect and makes the risk of overdosing greater.


When used correctly, fentanyl relieves pain. However, those who misuse and abuse it take it to get the feeling of relaxation and a euphoric high. This drug affects the CNS, causing an increase of dopamine that floods and chemically alters the brain over time.

As previously mentioned, abusing the drug can lead to tolerance. That means that you’ll need a higher dosage to get the desired effect, even after just a few days of your last intake. Your body and brain will then adapt to the drug, leading to dependence and addiction.

Fentanyl Effects And Addiction Symptoms

Whether used illicitly or medically, the signs listed below may be symptoms and side effects of fentanyl abuse.

Physical Symptoms

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itchy or irritated skin
  • Pale skin
  • Trouble with vision
  • Sweating
  • Sunken eyes
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Psychological Symptoms

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Impaired judgment
  • Confusion
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Disorientation
  • hallucination

Behavioral Symptoms

Abusing any kind of drug will result in behavioral changes. If you notice someone exhibiting these signs or you see them in yourself, it may be a cause for concern over substance abuse.

  • Extreme lethargy
  • Isolating or withdrawing from family and friends
  • Losing interest in things you were passionate about
  • Dropping all responsibility to buy or take the drug
  • Declining performance in school or work
  • Financial problems
  • Hanging out with different and questionable people

Withdrawal Symptoms

When you misuse and abuse fentanyl, your body becomes dependent on the drug. In other words, you need the drug to function “normally.”

If you aren’t on the drug or it’s been a while since your last dose, you may start to experience opioid withdrawal symptoms. These can range from mild to extremely uncomfortable. In some cases, they may even be life-threatening.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Yawning
  • Chills
  • Weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pains
  • Elevated heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Flu-like symptoms

How To Deal With Long Term Effects Of Fentanyl

Arguably the best way to avoid the long-term damages of fentanyl is to take it correctly. If you carefully and strictly follow your doctor’s instructions in taking the drug, you’re less likely to misuse, abuse, and get addicted to it.

However, in cases where you have to take fentanyl for a long time, it’s best to surround yourself with good people that will keep you in check. Tell your family and friends to guide you through taking the medication and be alert to any negative behavior you have towards or because of the drug.

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Where To Find Help For Fentanyl Addiction 

Addiction to any kind of substance is a difficult disease to overcome. Luckily, there are thousands of treatments centers across the country that can help you recover from it. Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center is entirely capable of helping people struggling with substance abuse heal.

More than that, there are a plethora of treatments you can choose from that best suit you and your situation– from inpatient rehab to 12-step programs, from group therapy to medical detox.

Fentanyl And The Caution Needed When Taking It

Opioids are among the leading medication used to treat severe pain, even more potent than morphine. However, while the fentanyl effects do benefit you, there will always be a risk attached to it.

Long-term use and abuse of fentanyl can lead to adverse side effects, such as respiratory poblems and overdose. But if you can recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction, you will be able to get the treatment needed to recover.

Start your healing from fentanyl addiction side effects in a place that offers both mental and medical care. Turn to Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center. Fully equipped, our team of professionals provides addiction help to anyone struggling with a substance use disorder. Along with a variety of treatment programs, we can help you get your life back.

You can contact us at (800) 922-0095, or go to any of our locations: 



29858 N. Tatum Blvd.

Cave Creek, AZ 85331



3033 South Arizona Avenue

Chandler, Arizona 85248



5151 East Pima Road

Tucson, Arizona 85712

Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. This blog aims not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case-to-case basis.