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Fentanyl Withdrawal and Detox

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is highly addictive, but the fentanyl withdrawal and detox process are similar to other opioids.

According to recent SAMHSA data, the number of people with opioid use disorder is declining in the US, but fentanyl and other synthetic opioids remain a deadly threat.

Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawal

Any use of fentanyl raises the following risks:

  • Tolerance
  • Dependence
  • Fentanyl abuse
  • Fentanyl addiction

Like with other opiates, tolerance to fentanyl builds rapidly. This means you will need to take more fentanyl to achieve the same effects, or you will need to take the drug more frequently.

Once physical dependence sets in, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is no longer in your system. These symptoms typically start around 12 hours after the last dose, lasting for a week or so.

NIDA (the National Institute on Drug Abuse) defines addiction as a chronic and relapsing condition involving more than physical dependence. Despite clearly adverse outcomes, fentanyl addiction is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviors. For someone with a fentanyl addiction – clinically described as opioid use disorder – obtaining and using the substance becomes the primary driver in life.

The appropriate treatment for fentanyl addiction depends on the scope and severity of the problem. 

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

With an opioid withdrawal, the first withdrawal symptoms usually present themselves from 8 to 36 hours after your last dose of the drug.

The onset of fentanyl withdrawal hinges on the dosage being used as well as the frequency of use.

Once symptoms start manifesting, fentanyl withdrawal typically unfolds according to the following timeline.

Day 1 of fentanyl detox

Fentanyl is a short-acting opioid like heroin and codeine. With a long-acting opioid like oxycodone extended-release tablets, withdrawal symptoms appear from 24 to 48 hours after the last dose. This means withdrawal symptoms usually present anywhere from 8 to 24 hours after the last dose.

During the first day of fentanyl withdrawal, you may experience any or all of the following:

  • Powerful cravings for fentanyl
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Muscular aches
  • Muscular pains
  • Headaches
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Appetite loss
Day 2 of fentanyl detox

The second day of fentanyl detox sees a continuation of the above withdrawal symptoms, as well as the following adverse effects:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Upset stomach
  • Panic attacks
Day 3 of fentanyl detox

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will typically peak on the third day of detox. This applies to all short-acting opioids.

The most acute symptoms during this acute phase of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

You can also expect the symptoms to persist during the third day of fentanyl detox.

Day 4 of fentanyl detox

As the most acute phase of fentanyl withdrawal is complete, the following symptoms may linger:

  • Fatigue
  • GI disturbance
  • Cramps
  • Shivering
  • Enlarged pupils
Day 7 of fentanyl detox

After a week of fentanyl detox, all withdrawal symptoms should start to subside. It may take longer for sleep patterns to normalize. It is also commonplace for fatigue to linger and spells of depression.

In the event of PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), symptoms can persist for several months after discontinuing the use of fentanyl. The most common effects of PAWS are as follows:

  • Depressed mood
  • Strong cravings for opioids
  • Fatigue
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Irritability

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?

While fentanyl detox typically lasts for between 5 and 7 days, some people find withdrawal occurs in more or less time than this.

Every detox is unique, so it is vital to undergo a thorough evaluation to determine how long you will need for fentanyl detoxification.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Fentanyl

Taking opioids long-term, even when taken as directed with a prescription, quickly causes your body to become desensitized to opioids’ pain-relieving and rewarding effects. Tolerance quickly builds, requiring you to increase the amount or frequency of fentanyl doses to generate the same effects.

Sustained opioid abuse triggers changes in the function of some nerve receptors in the brain. With your nerve receptors becoming dependent on opioids, this altered brain chemistry causes the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms in the absence of opioids.

From prescription opioid painkillers through to heroin and fentanyl, opioid withdrawal symptoms are broadly similar, including:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Raised body temperature
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain
  • Hallucinations

Opioids and opiates are not typically associated with full-blown psychosis. Some people undergoing fentanyl withdrawal may experience hallucinations, delusions, or other psychotic symptoms.

To prevent the occurrence of psychotic symptoms while also minimizing some of the other unpleasant side effects of fentanyl withdrawal, seek medical assistance and consider a medically supervised detox.

Fentanyl Detox

The fentanyl detox process involves safely removing toxic substances and toxic metabolites from the system.

With fentanyl withdrawal, detox is generally performed in a licensed medical detox center or substance abuse treatment center.

Detox can take place in a standalone capacity or as the precursor to residential rehab. With around-the-clock medical care and mental health support, all complications of fentanyl withdrawal can be monitored and minimized.

Medications can help alleviate many of the more intense opioid withdrawal symptoms, and some medications can also reduce the cravings you will experience for fentanyl during detox.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Fentanyl?

If you’re still wondering how long it takes to detox from fentanyl, this depends on the following variables:

  • How much fentanyl is in your system
  • Quantity of fentanyl being abused
  • Route of delivery (patch or injection)
  • Any other substances in your system

Fentanyl detox will last from 4 to 20 days or more after the last use of fentanyl.

Fentanyl Rehab at California Prime Recovery

Fortunately, despite its strong abuse profile, fentanyl addiction typically responds favorably to an evidence-based combination of medications and psychotherapies.

During fentanyl detox, medications can streamline the intensity of the withdrawal process. At the same time, counseling and talk therapy sessions will help you identify what triggers you to use opioids like fentanyl despite the negative consequences.

At California Prime Recovery, we provide the following outpatient services for substance use disorders like fentanyl addiction:

For most cases of fentanyl addiction, the structure and support of a PHP work best. This is the most intensive form of addiction treatment outside of residential rehab.

Reach out to California Prime Recovery to discuss treatment options.

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