How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?
When taken intravenously, fentanyl has an elimination half-life of approximately 2 to 4 hours in adults, meaning it takes approximately 11 to 22 hours to completely leave your system.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate pain reliever, and it’s one of the strongest opiates available today. It’s 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. As a result, it’s often used to relieve severe pain, especially after surgery, during cancer treatment, and to manage breakthrough pain.
People who obtain fentanyl without a prescription often do so on the black market. When used for recreational purposes, fentanyl is typically mixed with cocaine, heroin or other street drugs to amplify the potency.Fentanyl works in the body by blocking pain receptors. It induces feelings of relaxation and euphoria by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Because of this, fentanyl carries a high risk of abuse and addiction. Fentanyl abuse is dangerous and even deadly. In March 2015, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) issued a nationwide alert identifying fentanyl as a threat to public health and public safety.
In the 1990s, fentanyl was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical usage in the form of a transdermal patch branded as Duragesic. It is also available in the form of lozenges, and sometimes, it’s used intravenously in the hospital setting.
As a prescription opioid, fentanyl is used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain or to manage pain after surgery. It’s also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids.
In its prescription form, fentanyl is known by names such as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. However, the fentanyl associated with recent overdoses are often produced in clandestine laboratories and is sold in the form of powder; spiked on blotted paper; mixed with or substituted for heroin; or as tablets that mimic other, less potent opioids.
Common street names for fentanyl include china white, dance fever, apache, TNT, goodfella, murder 8, and tango.
Individuals who abuse fentanyl often seek the euphoric effects produced by the drug. In some cases, a person may start using fentanyl as prescribed by their doctor, but then it turns into a situation where they continue taking it for non-medical reasons.
The signs and symptoms of fentanyl abuse include:
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle stiffness
- Slowed heart rate
- Labored breathing
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
- Slurred speech
- Nausea and vomiting
- Itching and scratching
- Pinpoint pupils
The elimination half-life of fentanyl is subject to some variation based on the method by which it’s administered. When taken intravenously, fentanyl has an elimination half-life of approximately 2 to 4 hours in adults, meaning it takes approximately 11 to 22 hours to leave your system.
If you use the patch or lozenge, fentanyl exhibits a half-life of approximately seven hours, and it will take around 36 hours for the drug to completely leave your system after you stop using.
As fentanyl breaks down in your system, it leaves behind traces called metabolites. These metabolites stay in your system longer, meaning that a thorough drug test could detect fentanyl in your system even several days after you stop taking it.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your Urine?
While often undetected by standard drug tests, an advanced urine drug test can be used to identify fentanyl. In this case, fentanyl can be recognized in urine for eight to 24 hours, depending on a variety of factors including age, weight and more. While fentanyl may not be recognized by urine tests after a full day, it can still be detected by other methods and continue to wreak havoc on the body after improper use.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your Hair?
Hair is one of the most telling features of a person’s health. Because of its relative slow growth process, it is often one of the most accurate timelines of health history. For this reason, hair drug testing can be one of the most effective and telling signs of long-term drug use. Fentanyl can be detected in hair for up to 90 days, about three months.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your Saliva?
Saliva can be used for a variety of tests — from DNA to drug testing, doctors may take a saliva swab or spittle sample to learn more about a patient. Saliva drug tests are are often more accurate than urine or blood tests as they can detect fentanyl for one to three days after use.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your Blood?
Blood testing is one of the least effective methods of detecting drug use over a long period of time. Fentanyl can only be recognized in the bloodstream for up to 12 hours. Although it typically isn’t detectable in the blood for longer than half a day, the negative side effects of long-term opioid use manifest themselves in a variety of ways, including life-threatening addiction and potential overdose.
In 2015, the DEA noted that from 2013 to 2014, several states reported spikes in overdose deaths due to fentanyl and its analog acetyl-fentanyl. Similar to previous fentanyl overdose outbreaks, a majority of the more than 700 fentanyl-related overdoses were attributed to illicitly-manufactured fentanyl and was mixed with heroin or other street drugs. The DEA also noted that the actual number of fentanyl-related overdoses is likely much higher.
Fentanyl is often used to treat “breakthrough pain” while a person is already being treated with 24-hour pain medication. Since it’s used along with other opiates, the risk of overdose greatly increases.
Recreational use of fentanyl is incredibly dangerous and can lead to overdose because people often aren’t aware of how potent it is. Additionally, adverse reactions may occur if mixed with alcohol or other drugs.
Signs and symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include:
- Difficulty thinking, speaking, or walking
- Pale face
- Blue or purple-colored lips, fingernails, or extremities
- Choking sounds
- Throwing up
- Small pupils
- Low blood pressure
- Slowed heart rate
- Fainting spells
- Limp body
- Difficulty breathing
- Respiratory arrest
If you see someone experiencing the symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, call 911 immediately.
- Body mass
- Body fat
- Food intake
- Hepatic function
- Metabolic rate
- Urinary pH
- Dosage (low vs. high)
- Route of administration
- Frequency of use
- Duration of use
- Use of other drugs
It’s important to understand, however, that rapid detox is often dangerous and ineffective. Several studies have shown that this method does not result in less discomfort compared to any other methods of fentanyl withdrawal.
However, if an advanced drug test is ordered, fentanyl is easily detected through urine, hair, saliva, and blood tests. Fentanyl can be detected in urine for eight to 24 hours, in blood for up to 12 hours, in saliva for one to three days, and in hair for up to 90 days.
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