It is vital that someone who has developed a fentanyl addiction get professional help from medical personnel who are trained to manage opioid use disorders. But oftentimes, people who are using fentanyl are in denial or unwilling to seek help. It is up to loved ones to get them the necessary care.

When a person is abusing fentanyl or has developed an addiction to it, they display several physical, psychological, and behavioral changes that can alert loved ones that there may be a problem. These changes vary from person to person, but some commonly observed ones are listed below. If notice one or more of these changes in a loved one, you should seek help from a fentanyl helpline.

  • Unexplained changes in mood, including irritability, anger, emotional reactivity, and mood swings
  • Changes in routine, like oversleeping, missing work, skipping meals, or withdrawing from friends
  • Changes in energy levels, like appearing tired or drowsy, nodding off, or sleeping more
  • Changes in appearance, including neglecting personal hygiene, appearing tired or ill, or losing a lot of weight
  • Financial difficulties, such as inability to pay bills, borrowing money, or stealing
  • Being evasive, secretive, or defensive about how they are spending their time and money
  • Becoming less reliable and neglecting responsibilities at work and home

If you have been using fentanyl but are unsure whether you have an addiction, the best course of action is to make an appointment with a licensed healthcare provider, mental health professional, or addiction treatment specialist. These professionals can determine whether or not you have an opioid use disorder. Symptoms used to diagnose an addiction include two or more of the following: [1]

  • Using a substance more often or at higher doses than intended.
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, obtaining, using, or recovering from using the drug.
  • Frequent strong drug cravings or urges to use.
  • Using in situations where it is dangerous or risky (e.g., at work or while driving).
  • Giving up important or previously enjoyed activities to use the drug.
  • Experiencing conflict, tension, or strain in important relationships because of drug use.
  • Neglecting responsibilities, roles, and routines because of drug use.
  • Developing a tolerance (the drug becomes less effective over time).
  • Experiencing adverse physical or mental health effects related to drug use.
  • Experiencing physical or psychological discomfort or pain when cutting back, stopping, or missing a dose (withdrawal symptoms).
  • Having multiple unsuccessful efforts to stop using or cut back.

Last updated: March 19, 2024

Hailey Shafir, M.Ed., LCMHCS, LCAS, CCS

Hailey Shafir is a licensed addiction specialist and mental health counselor. She graduated from North Carolina State University with a master of education in clinical mental health counseling in 2012, and has developed deep expertise in the areas of mental health, behavioral addictions and substance abuse. She is passionate about using this knowledge to raise awareness, provide clear and accurate information, and to improve the quality of treatment for these disorders.

Hailey is an LCMHCS (license number: S9539) under the North Carolina Board of Mental Health Counselors, and an LCAS (ID: LCAS-21333) and CSS (ID: CCS-20721) under the North Carolina Addictions Specialist Professional Practice Board.


1 Am J Psychiatry. 2013 Aug;170(8):834-51. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.12060782. PMID: 23903334; PMCID: PMC3767415 Hasin DS, O’Brien CP, Auriacombe M, Borges G, Bucholz K, Budney A, Compton WM, Crowley T, Ling W, Petry NM, Schuckit M, Grant BF. DSM-5 criteria for substance use disorders: recommendations and rationale. Available online. Accessed on March 19, 2024.