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Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

Fentanyl is an extremely dangerous opioid substance that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. While fentanyl is used medicinally, the version of fentanyl found on the street is not the same. Street fentanyl, also known as illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF), is extremely unpredictable in its potency and leads to thousands of fatal overdoses each year.

According to the CDC, overdose death rates involving synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) rose from 57,834 in 2020 to 71,238 in 2021.

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If you become addicted to fentanyl your brain and body will begin to rely on it to function properly. And if you suddenly stop taking the substance, you will experience symptoms of withdrawal.

The severity and duration of the fentanyl withdrawal timeline can vary depending on how long you’ve been using fentanyl, your overall health, and other factors. Fentanyl withdrawal must be treated in a medical detox center where you can receive the necessary treatments to stay safe and comfortable.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FENTANYL WITHDRAWAL?

The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal may vary from person to person, depending on a variety of factors. For example, how long you have been abusing the substance and the dose you typically took can determine how severe your symptoms will be.

Common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • Flu-like symptoms that include a runny nose, headache, and fever
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches, pains, and spasms
  • Stomach pain and other gastrointestinal issues
  • Joint and bone pain
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy or tiredness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate and changes in blood pressure
  • Respiratory issues
  • Mental health effects like anxiety and depression

While fentanyl withdrawal is not inherently life-threatening, attempting to detox at home can be incredibly dangerous. Without medications and proper treatment, your withdrawal symptoms can become so severe that you would rather relapse than attempt to overcome them. Relapsing on fentanyl after a period of abstinence can quickly turn fatal, as you no longer have the tolerance that you had during your addiction and can overdose easily.

WHAT FACTORS PLAY A ROLE IN THE TIMELINE OF FENTANYL WITHDRAWAL?

The exact timeline of fentanyl withdrawal is dependent on a variety of factors. For example, someone who abused the substance for several years might experience symptoms longer than a person who was addicted to fentanyl for a few months.

Other factors that play a role in the fentanyl withdrawal timeline include:

  • The length of time you abused fentanyl
  • The dose of fentanyl you typically took
  • How frequently you abused the substance
  • Your age and weight
  • The rate of your metabolism
  • Your overall health
  • Whether you abused other substances
  • The functionality of your liver and kidneys

Because all of these factors can influence how long fentanyl withdrawal lasts, withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and it’s best to attend a medical detox program. The medical team can thoroughly assess your needs and make an educated inference on the type and length of treatment you would most benefit from. If you attempted to detox at home, you would have no idea what timeline you could expect.

UNDERSTANDING THE FENTANYL WITHDRAWAL TIMELINE

While the specifics of fentanyl withdrawal can vary, most individuals experience the same general timeline. Being aware of this timeline can help you understand what detox will be like. It is important to note that the timeline can be impacted by your emotional and physical health, making it vital that you seek professional help rather than attempt to overcome withdrawal on your own.

An estimated timeline for fentanyl withdrawal is as follows:

1 to 2 Days

Sometime between 12 to 48 hours after your last dose of fentanyl, you will begin to experience the symptoms of withdrawal. The initial symptoms are typically mild, often including insomnia, loss of appetite, flu-like symptoms, and cravings.

2 to 4 Days

Between 2 to 4 days after you last used fentanyl, your symptoms will begin to peak. This means they will be at their most severe, making it vital that you are within a detox facility at this time. It is common to experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, severe mood swings, body aches, and cravings for fentanyl.

5 to 14 Days

5 to 14 days after your last dose your symptoms will begin to subside. While the physical symptoms of withdrawal are usually gone by this time, you might still experience psychological effects. Symptoms may include anxiety, insomnia, depression, and irritability.

Treatment remains vital at this point of recovery. Withdrawal symptoms could lead you to experience a relapse without professional support, putting you at risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose.

HOW IS FENTANYL WITHDRAWAL TREATED DURING DETOX?

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are not directly life-threatening. However, they pose a serious risk of relapse, so it is important to attend a detox program.

Drug detox centers can prescribe FDA-approved medications to curb your withdrawal symptoms and prevent you from experiencing cravings.

The medications provided during detox will keep you medically stable and comfortable, allowing you to fully focus on building a strong foundation of recovery. Some of the medications used during fentanyl detox include:[3]

  • Buprenorphine (Sublocade)
  • Buprenorphine and naloxone (Suboxone and Zubsolv)
  • Methadone (Dolophine and Methadose)
  • Lofexidine (Lucemyra)

In addition to prescribing medication, the medical team will provide 24/7 support and supervision, ensuring you receive the comprehensive care you need to stay sober.

FIND HELP FOR FENTANYL WITHDRAWAL NOW

If you or a loved one suffer from fentanyl addiction, you should never attempt to detox on your own. Drug detox centers can provide you with the support, treatment, and tools necessary to overcome fentanyl withdrawal safely and comfortably. Speak with a team member at Elevate Recovery Center today to find a trusted fentanyl detox center near you.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): U.S. Overdose Deaths In 2021 Increased Half as Much as in 2020 – But Are Still Up 15%, Retrieved June 2023 From https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/202205.htm
  2. The National Institutes of Health (NIH): Opioid Withdrawal, Retrieved June 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/
  3. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): Medications for Opioid Overdose, Withdrawal, & Addiction, Retrieved June 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids/medications-opioid-overdose-withdrawal-addiction-infographic

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