Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

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Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is largely responsible for the increase in overdose deaths. It’s similar to morphine but about 50 to 100 times stronger. Due to its potency, it doesn’t take much to kill a person. Just two milligrams, or about 10-15 grains of table salt, can be fatal. While naloxone (Narcan) can reverse a fentanyl overdose, this is only a short-term solution. It does not address the underlying factors for the substance use, nor does it protect you the next time you use fentanyl.

If you are trying to quit fentanyl, it’s normal to have questions about the detox process. Detox is the first step in recovery, and while it can be painful and uncomfortable, there are therapies and medications that can help. They may not take away your symptoms completely, but they can help lessen cravings, reduce withdrawal symptoms and block the effects of opioids.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Fentanyl?

Once you make the decision to quit fentanyl, the first step is detoxification, a process that removes drugs, alcohol and toxins from the body. Detoxing from fentanyl is similar to detoxing from any other opioid, with symptoms appearing within 6 to 12 hours from the last dose. The acute symptoms tend to be worse in the first few days and then taper off over the next 7 to 10 days.

Acute withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Irritability
  • Dysphoria (feeling down or dissatisfied)
  • Sweating
  • Goosebumps
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Intense cravings

Once you are through the first week of detox, you will feel better physically. However, some withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks or months, such as sleep problems, anxiety and the inability to feel pleasure. Typically, these symptoms are mental or emotional in nature and occur because the brain needs time to heal.

What Factors Influence Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms?

The intensity and duration of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms vary among individuals. The severity of your addiction, your genetics and your lifestyle habits all play a role in the recovery process. Your treatment team will take these factors into consideration when creating your recovery plan. Generally speaking, the more severe the addiction, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms.

Having a co-occurring disorder like depression or anxiety can also make a difference. While these disorders can be successfully treated, they can make it more difficult to recover initially. About half of people who engage in substance use also have mental illness. It’s believed that these disorders cause people to self-medicate to cope with pain and discomfort.

Finally, your overall health plays a role in your recovery. Are you in good overall health or do you have underlying physical health problems, such as liver disease or heart disease? Fortunately, by taking these steps to quit fentanyl, you can add valuable years onto your life.

Importance of Medically Assisted Fentanyl Detox

The FDA has approved three medications to reduce withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. These medications are the gold standard for treating fentanyl addiction, along with behavioral therapies. Additional medications may also be prescribed to treat symptoms like diarrhea or anxiety.

It’s also recommended to detox under medical supervision. Unmonitored withdrawal from fentanyl can cause intense side effects that can lead to relapse. Furthermore, there could be complications such as dehydration, elevated sodium levels and cardiac complications. By managing these symptoms, you can have a more comfortable and tolerable experience and prepare yourself for therapy.

Get Help for a Fentanyl Addiction

Spearhead Health can help you overcome a fentanyl addiction, and we will find a route that works for you. We are not a treatment facility—we provide case management services that are tailored to our clients’ needs. This allows us to find the therapies, medications and treatment programs that will work for you. To learn more about taking the next steps to quit fentanyl, contact us today at 310-561-1704.