Fentanyl Overdose

Are you or a loved one affected by substance abuse? Learn more about fentanyl overdose, its side effects, and treatment options.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a pharmaceutical opioid prescribed for pain relief. It was first made in the 1960s and has become one of the most prescribed opioids for severe pain. It comes in the form of tablets, sprays, and patches.1

Fentanyl Overdose

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Why Is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Fentanyl is highly addictive, almost 100x more so than morphine, and it can be illegally produced. One of the most dangerous things about fentanyl, besides its effects, is the general publics’ lack of awareness as to how dangerous the drug is.2

What is a Fentanyl Overdose?

Fentanyl overdose occurs as a reaction to taking the drug. In a medical environment, fentanyl overdose is relatively low. But it’s downright deadly when taken illegally, in excess, or mixed with other substances. 2
Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs to increase the effects of the high. This causes compound effects across the body, leading to varying degrees of bodily failure. The exact fatal amount of fentanyl overdose differs for each person. Additionally, even if a person survives a fentanyl overdose, they still have a chance of developing long-term effects from experience. The exact fentanyl overdose time changes from person to person.

How Does Fentanyl Affect the Brain

Fentanyl causes feelings of euphoria and calmness by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Like other addictive drugs, fentanyl disrupts the brain’s natural chemistry, resulting in mood disorders, sleep disorders, and other cognitive dysfunctions. 2

Medical Uses for Fentanyl

Fentanyl has significant medical value when used responsibly. Here are the most common uses for the drug.

Anesthesia for Individuals Undergoing Heart Surgery

Fentanyl is used during heart surgery to keep a person unconscious but stable during all parts of the surgery, including recovery. Originally, morphine was used, but individuals developed a litany of post-surgery complications. Fentanyl eventually took morphine’s place as a safer alternative. 2

Management Of Breakthrough Cancer Pain in Individuals' Pain

Those with cancer often experience chronic, persistent pain from their illness. In these cases, fentanyl in patch form is administered for long-lasting relief. Fentanyl overdose effects can still occur while on cancer medicine. 2

Management In People Who Have Persistent, Moderate-to-Severe Chronic Pain

Fentanyl patches help people with chronic pain due to the slow release mechanism of the patch. The drug is also great for individuals who have built a high tolerance to traditional opioids. 2

Pain Relief for People Who Are Already Taking Narcotic Analgesics

Fentanyl is prescribed to people already on narcotic-based pain relievers. However, due to the potency of fentanyl, it can work as a last resort for long-term pain relief when other drugs have proven ineffective. 2

Side Effects of Fentanyl

Acute fentanyl intoxication comes with early warning signs, otherwise known as fentanyl overdose. Here’s what to watch out for.

Signs and Symptoms of Fentanyl Overdose

These are the signs and symptoms of experiencing fentanyl poisoning. Early intervention is key if you think you or a loved one is experiencing an overdose. 4

Slow or Shallow Breathing

This is due to the central nervous system being depressed. It can lead to long-term brain damage, hypoxia, and other fentanyl overdose symptoms.

Slow Heartbeat

A faint heartbeat is a warning sign that the body is shutting down. Reaching the fentanyl overdose level further slows down the heart. Prolonged time experiencing this effect can cause a fentanyl heart attack.

Severe Sleepiness

A person experiencing slow breathing, reduced heart rate, and sleepiness requires medical assistance as they are on the verge of a fentanyl overdose.

Cold, Clammy Skin

Clammy skin can be caused by low blood-oxygen levels like the kind brought on by shallow breathing. Acute fentanyl intoxication causes the skin to become clammy and abnormally cold.

Trouble Walking or Talking

Incoherence is a symptom of cognitive dysfunction. An overdose of fentanyl can cause an inability to walk or talk.

Feeling Faint, Dizzy, or Confused

Feeling confusion, vertigo, etc., can lead to accidents, fentanyl toxicity, and injuries. Suffering from fentanyl overdose symptoms can also cause mania — an extreme state of mind that causes a disconnect from reality.
Fentanyl Overdose

Overcome Fentanyl Addiction at Stillwater Behavioral Health

Stillwater Behavioral Health believes that recovery takes time, patience, and a tailored approach to acute fentanyl intoxication. That’s why we offer several forms of rehab to better suit the needs of our individuals. This includes:


Fear of withdrawal from fentanyl poisoning can make a person more hesitant to enter recovery. Detox comes with fentanyl overdose medicine designed to replenish essential nutrients and provide a hospital atmosphere for individuals overcoming their addiction.

Residential Care

Residential care includes in and outpatient care options. This means an individual can stay on-site under medical supervision or live their normal life and visit the clinic on a scheduled basis. Residential care is a great resource for anyone battling fentanyl toxicity and addiction.

Continuing Care

Recovery is an ongoing process which means an individual needs constant care. A continuing-care plan includes check-ups, therapy, fentanyl overdose medicine, and more. Reaching your fentanyl overdose limit means an underlying condition and a craving for the drug. Get help to prevent an accidental fentanyl overdose. There’s no reason to suffer through addiction alone when there’s a team ready and waiting to help.

If you’re struggling with fentanyl addiction or have experienced an overdose on fentanyl, reach out over the phone, in person, or online to find out how Stillwater Treatment can help.