Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Duration

Fentanyl, which is a Schedule II drug that can be prescribed in medical situations, is also one of the most potent opioids available. It’s intended to be prescribed to patients with chronic pain, particularly from cancer, who are already tolerant to other opioid pain medicines. Fentanyl, like other opioids, is extremely addictive and there is a high potential for abuse.

With abuse comes dependence, and that leaves many people wondering about the duration and timeline for fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Duration
When a person takes fentanyl, their brain is flooded with dopamine as the drug binds to their opioid receptors and activates their brain’s reward centers. This creates a euphoric rush. The brain then wants to continue seeking whatever it is that created this feeling, so the person will want to continue using and misusing the drug.

As this cycle goes on, a person will build a tolerance to the drug. When this happens, they will need to take increased fentanyl doses to get the same effects, such as the euphoria. This is incredibly dangerous with any drug but particularly with fentanyl because it can be 100 times more potent than morphine.

To understand how long fentanyl withdrawal lasts, it’s key to know what withdrawal is and what the symptoms may be.

When a person uses opioids, their body gradually acclimates to the presence of the drug. When the drug is no longer regularly used, the person experiences withdrawal symptoms as their body copes to the absence of the substance.

Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can include:

  • Sweating
  • Chills, fever or goosebumps
  • Exhaustion
  • Cognitive problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Aches and pain
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea, nausea or vomiting

People going through withdrawal often experience what can feel like depression because of how the opioid impacted their dopamine and neurotransmitters, which are responsible for how their brain experiences pleasure. This can last longer than many of the other side effects of withdrawal.

The duration of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms varies depending on the individual, but the following are some general timelines that someone can expect:

  • Withdrawal symptoms from opioids usually begin anywhere from 12 to 30 hours after the last dose is taken
  • With a fentanyl patch, since it’s an extended release medicine, this can be longer. Withdrawal would usually start within about a day of removing the patch.
  • Some of the early signs of withdrawal from opioids can include anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches, and runny nose
  • The peak effects of withdrawal are often seen anywhere from two to four days after the last dose of fentanyl. This time period is when the symptoms are most likely to involve the gastrointestinal system and may include nausea and vomiting.
  • Within about a week, most of the symptoms come to an end, although as mentioned above, people can experience emotional issues after they stop using fentanyl. These are often called post-acute withdrawal symptoms and they may occur for a few months after stopping fentanyl.

The acute symptoms usually last around a week, while the post-acute symptoms may persist for a few months, depending on the individual and their level of fentanyl use.

Weaning or tapering off fentanyl can be beneficial. It may extend the overall period of withdrawal, but it reduces the severity of the withdrawal symptoms a person may experience. Tapering off fentanyl should be done in a medically supervised environment, and a physician will create a plan to slowly lower doses of fentanyl until a person can stop safely.

Weaning can also help alleviate some of the risks of withdrawal from fentanyl such as aspiration dehydration, and relapse.

If you or a loved one live with addiction, contact The Recovery Village today. A representative can guide you through the treatment process and answer any questions you may have about managing your addiction and achieving a healthier future.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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