Fentanyl is an extremely potent and addictive synthetic opioid which is often prescribed under the ‘Actiq’ brand. It is most commonly prescribed in the UK to treat severe pain (also known as ‘breakthrough’ pain) for patients suffering after a major surgery or during advanced-stage cancer.

Biologically, it is about 100 times stronger than morphine and can be prescribed to patients who have built up a tolerance to other potent painkillers such as morphine.

There are two forms of the synthetic opioid: fentanyl prescribed by doctors (pharmaceutical), and illegally manufactured fentanyl which is sold and distributed in drug markets. The illegal form of fentanyl can be mixed with other drugs such as heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine to make the drug less potent, and is roughly 50 times stronger than the highly addictive opioid heroin.

It is often sold in a powder or liquid form and is indistinguishable from other similar opiate drugs. This can be extremely dangerous and even lethal, particularly if a drug addict is unaware that a substance is laced with fentanyl.

Many people who are prescribed fentanyl are also unaware of the dangers of the drug and may not realise that they are dependent upon or abusing it. Most people begin their usage via a prescription. This type of drug must only be used as it is directed. Otherwise, addiction can quickly lead to addiction and subsequently overdose if you are not careful.

It must be treated immediately, so private drug and alcohol rehabilitation is the recommended course of action. Time is of the essence, so if you are suffering from addiction or you know anyone that is, it is crucial to make sure they are aware of the many physical and mental risks.


Opioid Use in the UK

Fentanyl abuse in the UK affects people of all ages across all areas of the social spectrum. From people that are addicted to other illegal drugs, to those who suffer chronic pain and can’t find another drug that works as well, the efficacy of fentanyl is what makes the drug so dangerous and, in some cases, lethal.

Whilst the UK has nowhere near the opioid problem that the US does yet, statistics from the Department of Health have shown a 60% increase in opioid prescriptions over the past 10 years. This research also discovered that half a million people in England who have been prescribed opiate medication are still taking them three years or more later, meaning that our official statistics for those actively suffering from drug addictions could be an underestimate.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said the lack of services dedicated to dealing with prescription drug addictions was frightening, as these patients tend to have very complex needs. She said: “Patients who need these services will often have unique health needs to address that differ from other forms of addiction – often the medical reason they started taking these drugs in the first place.”


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Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl is one of the strongest opiate-type drugs in existence and its potency has made fentanyl a highly sought-after and extremely addictive recreational drug. As with other opioid painkillers, fentanyl works by mimicking endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers), blocking pain signals from the brain and making users feel good.

It has caused a huge number of overdoses because of its high potency as well as its inconsistent mixture with other substances which makes it impossible to gauge the strength or dosage.

When someone has overdosed on fentanyl, they may become incredibly drowsy/sleepy, and it will be hard to wake them up. Their breathing slows, and they may make gurgling/snoring noises and pass out completely.

Intended only for use by people suffering from extreme pain and in some cases end of life care, any recreational use of the drug is considered to be a substance abuse problem. The use of fentanyl can have a devastating impact on the everyday life of users and immediate detox treatment is needed for users to withdraw from the addictive substance.

Fentanyl is particularly dangerous and addictive when prescribed by a doctor, as patients may not realise that what they are being given has negative effects long term. If they increase their dose incrementally over time or feel that they cannot cope without it after their treatment has concluded, they may feel the need to seek it out through illegal avenues.

Dr Yasir Abbasi, a former clinical director for addiction services at Mersey Care NHS Trust, has called for better treatment services to be made available in the UK, with a focus on these types of drug addiction, saying: “I feel there’s a hidden epidemic around this. The majority [of addicts] would be invisible because they would be people in primary care, who are prescribed this and are overusing the prescription, refilling the prescription earlier or topping up in other ways.”

What Happens at Fentanyl Rehab at Ocean Recovery?

Drug rehabilitation is the only course of action for addiction. This eliminates the desire for more and tackles the psychological elements of dependence that create a perpetual addiction. Thankfully, detox and therapy treatments for Fentanyl addiction are available to you.

When you enter rehab, you will commit to a comprehensive plan, which first starts with medical detoxification and a range of therapies.

As rehab at Ocean Recovery is residential, clients have meals and cleaning provided by the centre’s support staff, enabling the full attention of each patient to be solely on recovery and wellbeing. The needs of each individual are monitored, and treatment is personalised to ensure patients find their detoxification transition as comfortable as possible.

Fentanyl Detox Process

Detoxification is essential and must be dealt with sensitively and accordingly. Removing the substance from your body can be challenging. Withdrawal symptoms must be dealt with properly in a medical environment.

The patient will be treated by the team at Ocean Recovery for their withdrawal symptoms and will receive 24/7 medical attention throughout this period. Patients may be prescribed medications designed to reduce the withdrawal symptoms such as Subutex to make the transition as comfortable as possible for the patient.

You must be in the presence of a medical team who can make you feel comfortable. A drug detox lasts around 7 days.

It can be extremely difficult to go through the withdrawal process alone, which is why the 24/7 support of medical professionals at Ocean Recovery is necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms. The medical team are available to offer patients non-addictive medications to help with the painful withdrawal symptoms which are experienced during detox such as Subutex.

Common withdrawal symptoms occurring during fentanyl detox include:

  • Muscle ache
  • Itching sensation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue

How is Medication Used to Treat Fentanyl Addiction?

Opiates cause painful and hard to manage withdrawal symptoms which can often stop users from becoming sober outside of a monitored rehab facility. Certain medications known as opioid agonists and antagonists are able to balance the effect of opioids in the brain. These types of medications are prescribed by medical professionals to make the detox process more comfortable for patients and increase the likelihood of managing sobriety.

Therapy for Fentanyl Addiction

Clients are encouraged to attend therapy and counselling services to address the psychological effects of substance addiction. You will work in therapeutic groups and individual psychotherapy sessions for psychological dependence. This is an approach known as Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which changes your lifestyle habits, and helps you to deal with and understand what is happening to you.

There are also therapies that help you with mindfulness. This assists with your mental state, your wellbeing, and your self-esteem. You will have ways to better conduct your mind so you can find a much happier place to be in after treatment.

You will find the best tools for long-term sobriety with impeccable therapies and treatments alongside the leisure activities and community built inside rehab. Being away from home, reconnecting with family/friends, and healing past traumas are the winning formula for beating addiction.

An aftercare plan will also be in place for you when you leave. Our friendly team is always there to give you moral and physical support. An aftercare plan encourages long-term communication and follow-up counselling sessions.

If you choose recovery, the chances are you will succeed. So let us help you on your journey

Due to the complexity of fentanyl use and the mental impact opiate addiction causes users, therapy will be tailored to patients differently dependent of their individual needs. Ocean Recovery employs an in-house team of therapists who aim to treat the mental aspect of fentanyl addiction.

Admissions to Rehab

For people seeking treatment for a fentanyl addiction, Ocean Recovery Centre will undertake an initial assessment of the user. The assessment takes place entirely over the phone and after an initial discussion the patient will then receive a date to enter Ocean Recovery in person.

Upon arrival at the rehab centre the patient will receive a full physical and psychological medical examination by a qualified staff member to determine the treatment plan and needs of the person suffering from addiction.

The clinical team at Ocean Recovery will then create a personalised treatment plan which is designed to meet the likely challenges that clients may face during their rehabilitation. The centre is able to manage everything from detox to recovery, providing round-the-clock support and therapies, as well as a host of wellness activities to help patients to feel better in their bodies and minds.

Contacting Ocean Recovery Centre

Thankfully there is a plethora of support for addicts today. Rehab clinics around the country are at your disposal and offer short-term and long-term support to avoid relapses.

At the Ocean Recovery Centre, we are dedicated to helping you recover. We want you to live a life that is healthy and happy, as well as meaningful. Contact us today for more information or call us on 0800 880 7596.

Removing addiction gives you a bigger and better perspective of life. Following rehab, you are not concentrating on your next dose but on your future.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: December 22, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.

Dr Robert Lutaaya - Clinical Reviewer - Last reviewed: December 3, 2023

MBChB, MSc Psych

Dr Robert Lutaaya qualified in 1995 from Worclaw Medical University as MBChB, and obtained a MSc Psych from the University of Manchester in 2014. Dr Lutaaya has previously worked for the CGL Substance Misuse Service and as an on-call doctor substance misuse Doctor for 17 years before joining Ocean Recovery. Dr Robert Lutaaya is committed to helping those struggling with alcohol and drug addictions.