Fentanyl Withdrawal & Detox

Fentanyl Withdrawal Hotline

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Quitting fentanyl is not always easy. This opioid drug is physically and mentally addictive, and detoxing from it can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. If you want to stop abusing fentanyl, you should seek professional medical help to undergo a supervised drug detox. Though the anticipation of detox is often an impediment to sobriety, there are many ways that you can create a more comfortable detox experience for yourself and set yourself on the path to long-term recovery.

Like other narcotics, fentanyl is highly habit-forming. Even in the absence of addiction, fentanyl can cause physical dependence, which means that your body relies on it. In fact, once dependence has developed, you need increasing amounts of fentanyl to achieve the same effect.

At that point, your body becomes so accustomed to receiving regular doses of fentanyl that you will need to give it time to adjust to existing without the drug. During that period, your body will experience symptoms of withdrawal.

Fully detoxing from fentanyl can take several days. However, the symptoms vary throughout the entire process based on the stage of withdrawal you are experiencing.

Early symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Watery eyes
  • Sleep trouble
  • Irritability
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating

Late symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Large pupils
  • Goosebumps on skin
  • Nausea and vomiting
fentanyl withdrawal
When deemed medically appropriate, some doctors can offer certain medications to help you manage symptoms of detox. However, for medications to be effective, they must be used in conjunction with appropriate psychotherapies.

Some of the most common pharmaceuticals for opioid detox include:

  • Methadone: Methadone assists in the detox process and alleviates cravings in the long term. In cases of long-term methadone therapy, dosage may be tapered over a period of several years.
  • Buprenorphine: Also known by its brand name Subutex, buprenorphine can help ease the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal and even help to shorten detox. Like methadone, buprenorphine should only be used for a long period of time if you experienced detox previously.
  • Clonidine: While this medication does not alleviate cravings, it can help reduce some of the physical and mental signs of withdrawal, including anxiety, irritation and body aches.

Naltrexone: This medicine is used to prevent relapse. It reverses the effects of opioids and can be used as a life-saving tool in emergency medicine.

Fentanyl withdrawal can be dangerous without medical supervision. Not only is home detox performed without medications that can help ease the transition into sobriety it also does not offer the kind of support you would receive at a professional detox and treatment facility.
Fentanyl withdrawal can be done in two weeks or less with professional medical assistance. The process can be broken down into two stages. Each stage has its own set of symptoms.

The stages are as follows:

  • Stage 1: The first time frame, which encompasses 1–2 days, is often the most difficult. This is when withdrawal symptoms are most severe. Symptoms usually begin within 6–12 hours of a person’s last fentanyl dose.
  • Stage 2: Once the most severe withdrawal symptoms have been alleviated, the individual enters the second and final stage of fentanyl withdrawal. This stage occurs 3–5 days after a person’s last fentanyl use. Discomfort has decreased from stage 1, but a lessened level of discomfort may linger for two weeks.
Though sudden (or “cold turkey”) withdrawal may be very uncomfortable, it is often effective. In addition to the common signs of fentanyl withdrawal, the cold turkey method can cause additional moodiness, constipation, dehydration, and hunger.
In some cases, fentanyl withdrawal-related problems can lead to death. Death during detox without medical supervision most often involves complications with dehydration. Opioid deaths can also occur right after detox. This happens when a person uses the same amount of fentanyl that they were using before detox. Because their body is no longer accustomed to that amount of fentanyl, they may overdose.

After detox, it is crucial that you seek fentanyl addiction treatment. While ceasing drug use is certainly a step in the right direction, only experienced addiction treatment professionals can provide the kind of guidance you need to stay sober.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Synthetic Opioid Overdose Data.” December 16,  2016. Accessed January 19, 2017.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “Fentanyl.” October 2018.

Gatehouse, Jonathon, and Nancy Macdonald. “Fentanyl: The King of All Opiates, and a Killer Drug Crisis.” Macleans. June 22, 2015.

Jaffe, Adi. “Alcohol, Benzos, and Opiates—Withdrawal That Might Kill You.” Psychology Today, January 13, 2010.

Kosten, Thomas R., and Tony P. George. “The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment.” PubMed Central. July 2002.

Lockett, Jon. “Latest Hollywood Craze is for Berry-flavoured Lollipops Laced with Powerful Opiates.” The Sun. June 26, 2016.

Mandal, Ananya. “Fentanyl Illicit Use.” News Medical Life Sciences. July 2, 2014.

MedlinePlus. “Fentanyl.” September 15, 2016. Accessed January 19, 2017.

Medline Plus. “Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.”

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Fentanyl.” (NIDA) June 2016. Accessed January 19 2017.

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