In 2016, synthetic opioids were behind almost half of every opioid-related death. Fentanyl is one of the most common synthetic opioids on the market today. It’s a dangerous illegal drug and its death toll is on the rise.
While Fentanyl is primarily used to treat severe pain, its potency and strength make it alluring to people seeking a more intense high. However, because it’s anywhere between 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, it’s also deadly.
If you or someone you know is addicted to Fentanyl, it’s important that you seek help as soon as possible. Fentanyl withdrawal is an unpleasant part of the process, so it’s important to know what it entails.
We’re walking you through what you can expect during Fentanyl withdrawal and detox.
What Causes Fentanyl Withdrawal?
Fentanyl withdrawal is the physiological and psychological symptoms that you feel when Fentanyl leaves your body after a period of dependence.
This happens because fentanyl can alter the chemical processes in your brain. When you take medication as prescribed, it works alongside your body’s systems to enhance your pain relief. But when abuse occurs, it takes over the systems and creates a tolerance.
You start to feel like you need more and more fentanyl to survive. Eventually, those same systems will start to require fentanyl to work the right way. It will stop creating dopamine naturally.
So, when you stop taking fentanyl, your body will send out signals to try and force to you find more. These signals are better known as fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, which vary person to person.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Fentanyl is a particularly difficult drug to withdrawal from thanks to how potent it is and how quick our bodies form a dependency. The good news is that those symptoms aren’t life-threatening.
As we mentioned before, the symptoms vary from person to person depending on individual body chemistry and the length of time of the addiction.
Some of the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal are:
- Stomach cramps
- Stomach pain
- Muscle pain
- Excessive sweating
- Increased heart rate
As you can see, there are a lot of different things you can experience when you go through fentanyl withdrawal. People often equate it to the flu, but one that can last for a pretty long time.
Duration of Fentanyl Withdrawal
The duration of fentanyl withdrawal, like the symptoms, depends on many different factors. For the most part, it will last several weeks. However, there are a number of symptoms that could last for many months.
How long the fentanyl withdrawal lasts depends on the formulation of fentanyl and how often you used it. However, individual body chemistry and genetics can also play a part.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
A general timeline of fentanyl withdrawal will start anywhere from four to eight hours after you last use fentanyl. This is when the more mild symptoms start.
You can expect to feel nauseous and sick like you’re getting the start of the flu. You’re going to start craving fentanyl now, but the worst of the cravings haven’t started yet.
Between the second and third day of detox, the physical symptoms are going to peak. This is when the worst of the pain is going to kick in.
It’s normal to have a fever and sweats through this time as your body is working hard to get the drug out of its system while also trying to restart some of the processes that drug use has stopped or taken over.
If you can hold on for day five, that’s when the worst of the physical symptoms start to fade. Around day eight, you should start to feel normal again. Just keep in mind if your drug use has been prolonged and severe, this part of the withdrawal might take a few weeks.
Once the primary physical withdrawal symptoms fade, you’ll still have to contend with the psychological symptoms. The cravings are going to stick around for a while. You’ll also experience depression, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and irritability for a little longer.
There’s also something known as a post-acute withdrawal syndrome, which is an issue where symptoms can last for years.
Detoxing from Fentanyl on Your Own
While withdrawal from opioid addiction is mostly non-fatal, it’s not a good idea to attempt to withdrawal from fentanyl on your own. A doctor can help you create a plan to taper off of the medication so you don’t experience the brunt of the symptoms all at once.
When you attempt to detox on your own, you increase your likelihood of going back to the drug in order to escape the symptoms of withdrawal.
Medical Detox for Fentanyl
As we mentioned before, withdrawal from fentanyl can be painful when attempted without the help of a medical professional. That’s why a medical detox for fentanyl is the best choice for recovery.
Medical detox can help to alleviate the physical symptoms through safe medications. A doctor is also present to monitor your health and well being throughout the process. Also, when entering a medical detox facility, you won’t have any access to fentanyl, so relapse isn’t an option.
How Medical Detox Works and What to Expect
A medical detox facility is a place that staffs doctors and nurses skilled at helping people through the effects of detox and withdrawal. They offer around the clock care and support so they can reduce the severity of the symptoms.
Both medical and mental health care professionals will look after you in a medical detox facility. They’ll use pharmacological, behavioral, and medical approaches to help you through detox.
Typically, you can expect the intake process to be straightforward. You’ll be asked questions and expected to answer truthfully. Then, the facility should do a full medical workup in order to see the state of your health.
Afterward, the facility should show you around and give you an idea of what you can expect while you detox.
It’s difficult to give you an idea of what a specific detox will be like because a good detox facility will tailor their approach to each person as an individual, as no two addicts are the same.
Medications Available for Fentanyl Detox
There are a number of medications available that can help ease the discomfort from opioid detox.
Methadone is heavily researched and deemed safe and effective while under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals. It helps to ease the symptoms by affecting the same receptors in the brain as fentanyl, but it doesn’t cause impairment.
Suboxone is another medication available to assist in detoxing from fentanyl. It helps to prevent overdose and lowers the intensity of cravings.
Both of these are also addictive. It’s important to take these medications as prescribed. They should only be taken under the guidance of a physician.
There are a number of other pain medications that your doctors will take a look at to treat the pain that caused you to start taking fentanyl in the first place. It’s also important to treat the root of the issue as well.
Get Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction Today
Withdrawal and detox don’t equate to being free from addiction. Despite the hard work that detox is, there is still a mountain of work to overcome once that’s done.
We need to treat all aspects of addiction, from the physical to the mental and psychological.
If you or someone you love is facing a fentanyl addiction, get help today.