Fentanyl Withdrawal

First introduced in 1959, and circulated into medicinal use in 1960, fentanyl was originally manufactured as a pain relief medication, or intravenous anesthetic. As a synthetic opioid, fentanyl was found to be highly potent, nearly 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It was soon found that–like heroin–fentanyl could produce not only pain relief in patients, but strong feelings of well-being and euphoria. Soon individuals were using the medication illicitly, and the drug entered into Scheduled II classification. By the 1990s, the U.S. was experiencing its first wave of opioid-related overdoses and deaths. 

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms 

Fentanyl is a dangerous drug to use, even in medical settings, because of its high abuse potential. The drug and medication has many side effects that need to be watched out for during normal use, severe side effects in illicit use, and can onset withdrawal symptoms in both medical and non-medical uses. Opioids change the chemical makeup of the brain, and thus how the brain reacts to different substances. So, when fentanyl is removed from the brain suddenly, adverse effects can arise. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, which are very similar to other opioid withdrawal symptoms, can include:

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  • Muscle aches.
  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Increased tearing. 
  • Runny nose. 
  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Insomnia. 
  • Sweating.
  • Yawning.
  • Abdominal cramping. 
  • Changes in pupil size. 
  • Goosebumps. 
  • Cold flashes. 
  • Diarrhea. 
  • Vomiting. 
  • Nausea. 
  • Mood swings. 

Fentanyl Withdrawal Duration

In both medical and “recreational” uses, it takes very little time for fentanyl withdrawal symptoms to begin occurring. Withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as 6 to 12 hours after your last dose of the drug or medication. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend on the individual, the amount of the drug they have been taking, how suddenly they are coming off of the substance, and the individual’s personal metabolism. 

The time in which it takes withdrawal symptoms to begin surfacing also depends on whether or not the opioid is fast-acting, or takes longer to take effect. In the case of fentanyl, it would depend on the route of use. Fentanyl transdermal patches are considered to be slow-release forms of the drug, whether they are used in illicit circumstances or in medical practice, meaning they take longer to take effect. Meanwhile, in tablet or lozenge form, fentanyl can begin taking effect almost immediately. 

Typically individuals undergoing fentanyl withdrawal will see peak symptoms occurring within 30 hours, after their last use. Normally fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will not last more than 10 days, with effects tapering off to be milder as time goes on. 

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline 

Knowing the symptoms and the duration of a fentanyl withdrawal can be very helpful to both individuals looking into getting off of fentanyl, and their family members. But, it is also important to note that most often, these withdrawal symptoms can occur at different times. Early onsetting withdrawal symptoms, occurring within anywhere from 6 to 12 hours after the last use and lasting up to 30 hours, include:

  • A runny nose. 
  • Excessive yawning. 
  • Trouble sleeping. 
  • Muscle aches. 
  • Chills. 
  • Fever. 
  • Sweating. 
  • Increased anxiety. 
  • Hypertension.
  • Increased heart rate. 
Stage 1 Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

These symptoms typically begin rather mildly, with the most severe symptoms occurring around 72 hours after the last dose of fentanyl taken. These symptoms tend to be more uncomfortable, but specific medications are sometimes used to help ease these symptoms until they begin tapering off in intensity themselves, normally lasting anywhere from 5 to 7 days in total. Later occurring fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Nausea. 
  • Vomiting. 
  • Diarrhea. 
  • Constipation. 
  • Mood swings. 
  • Depression. 
  • Stomach pain. 
  • Cravings for opiate drugs. 
  • Muscle aches. 
  • Bone pain. 
Fentanyl Withdrawal Progresses

Fentanyl Withdrawal Medications 

Fentanyl withdrawal medications are largely the same as general opioid withdrawal medications. These same medications can be used to help individuals recovering from heroin addiction or other opiate dependencies. Of course, fentanyl addiction treatment should not consist of just medication use, but of different types of therapy and counseling as well. Nonetheless, the medications typically used in fentanyl withdrawal and detox include (but are not limited to):

buprenorphine

Clonidine 

Clonidine tablets are considered extended-release, swallowable versions of the medication, typically used to treat high blood pressure and other painful conditions. Clonidine for opioid withdrawal works to reduce hyperactivity in the brain that induces more severe withdrawal symptoms. This helps tame the symptoms of withdrawal, and make them more tolerable, as clonidine attaches to the autoreceptors in the brain and blocks the effects of opioids. Clonidine is not considered an opioid but does come with its own set of side effects and risks, including the slight potential for overdose. but does carry the potential for causing its own side effects, and slight potential for overdose. In order to use clonidine for opioid withdrawal, you must receive a professional recommendation from your doctor.

methadone

Buprenorphine 

Buprenorphine is classified as a partial opioid and works similarly to methadone. The medication tricks the mind into believing it is satisfying an opioid craving, by blocking opioid receptors in the brain with its partial opioid makeup. This helps eliminate certain withdrawal symptoms and alleviates others by forming a line in which opioid drugs no longer take effect, thus preventing potential overdose in many cases. Taken once daily as part of an opioid dependence medication maintenance program, long-acting Buprenorphine must be prescribed by your doctor and should be used with great care, as it can cause its own varying side effects. 

codeine

Methadone

Like fentanyl and other opioids, methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist, classified in an organization of drugs known as opiate (narcotic) analgesics, that help reduce physical pain. It works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain, tricking the mind into believing it is receiving an opioid to staunch its cravings, thus eliminating some of the withdrawal symptoms experienced during detox, along with reducing drug cravings. Using methadone for opioid withdrawal and detox requires a patient to take the medication every 8 to 12 hours in tablet form, with a medical professional present for supervision. 

clonidine

Codeine 

Codeine, or codeine phosphate, is another effective opioid withdrawal and detox medication. The dosage for this medication has the potential to be flexible, depending on how well the client is responding to its effects, and whether their withdrawal symptoms are being positively or negatively. Of course, this level of flexibility also requires the drug to be monitored by a medical professional daily, to ensure best use and dose. But overall, the drug helps to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce opioid cravings. 

Can You Die From Fenatnyl Withdrawal?

Generally, withdrawal symptoms and side effects are unpleasant and difficult, but not life-threatening. Although in some extreme circumstances, withdrawal symptoms have led to complications that are dangerous and could be life-threatening. This is why it is so important to undergo withdrawal in a professional setting if at all possible, to help ensure your safety, and alleviate some of the more severe symptoms you may experience. If you suspect that you, or someone you love, is struggling with potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, please call 911.

Fentanyl withdrawal timeline

Fentanyl Detox / Tapering Off Fentanyl

Fentanyl addiction is no joke. The individual effects experienced in Fentanyl withdrawal may be severe, and could even life-threatening. This is why medical detox in a professional program is important and may help you or your loved one to avoid any unnecessary complications and severe withdrawal effects can be so important. Like other types of drug detox, fentanyl detox can be performed at home if desperately needed, but it is not recommended. Detox should be performed with medical supervision in either a medical facility or rehab center, to ensure quality care and 24/7 emergency assistance. 

The detox process typically works by combining physical and mental healing. Using medication, the individual undergoing medical detox allows their body to heal itself with as little distraction as possible. Meanwhile, they begin undertaking their emotional and mental healing as well, by participating in therapy and counseling sessions. Individuals in detox are slowly weaned off of fentanyl, to ensure safe and holistic healing, that is not plagued with more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal and detox from fentanyl is absolutely necessary to begin a recovery journey, can be aided by medications like the ones listed above, and is rather short in duration–usually lasting for only a week or two. Detox and withdrawal can be hard and unpleasant, but with the help of a great support team and medical staff, you can make it through this process with flying colors. It may be hard, but it’s not impossible, you can do this. 

Finding a Detox Center for Fentanyl 

Finding a detox center that is right for you does not need to be overly taxing or scary. It is the first step you’ll need to take to start your recovery journey, and you’ll need to do a fair amount of research, but you shouldn’t worry about not finding one that is right for you. There are plenty of withdrawal and detox centers in Florida, with staff members that are ready to help you heal. 

The key component to look for in a treatment center, is if they will work with you and your specific needs. You’ll want to keep in mind if you need a specific medication, if there is a specific type of treatment program you would like to try, and whether or not the facility you are looking into offers inpatient and outpatient treatment plans. 

Keep in mind, in the case of substance abuse treatment, it is normally better to be farther from home than closer, as you want to help yourself create a mental barrier between your old life and habits, and the new lifestyle and choices you are trying to build upon. Also, don’t forget to never associate luxury with quality, or be fooled by programs that quarantine 100% success. Substance abuse recovery is a journey that looks different for everyone, and there should be no time limit or standard to live up to for perfect success. 

Our Fentanyl Detox Center in Florida