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Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

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Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be challenging to overcome on your own, but success is possible with support.

Opioids like fentanyl are extremely addictive and can be extremely difficult to quit. Fentanyl withdrawal causes physical discomfort and cravings that can lead to relapse. However, professional medical detox programs can help ease your withdrawal symptoms. With this support, you can achieve long-term sobriety.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

When you quit fentanyl, withdrawal symptoms are common. Many fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can occur, but not everyone will experience every symptom. Further, some people may have more severe withdrawal symptoms than others. A few factors can directly impact the severity of your fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. These include the duration of your fentanyl addiction and how much fentanyl you take regularly.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical withdrawal symptoms are common during fentanyl withdrawal. Symptoms can occur at any point during the withdrawal process and include:

  • Goosebumps
  • Enlarged pupils 
  • Runny eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating 
  • Yawning
  • Muscle aches 
  • Sleep problems
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal is not only physically taxing but has a strong emotional component. A person’s psychological well-being can, therefore, suffer during the withdrawal period. This can occur alongside physical withdrawal symptoms. Common psychological withdrawal symptoms when quitting fentanyl include agitation and anxiety. Other mental health symptoms like depression are also possible.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

The timeframe for fentanyl withdrawal varies considerably from person to person. Everyone will have their own unique withdrawal experience. However, the timeline for fentanyl withdrawal remains similar overall:

  • Within 12 hours of the last fentanyl dose: Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms often begin. Specific symptoms vary depending on the person.
  • Within 1 to 2 days of the last fentanyl dose: Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms peak in intensity.
  • Within 3 to 5 days of the last fentanyl dose: Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms begin to improve and may resolve entirely.
  • Within weeks to months of the last fentanyl dose: Some people may experience protracted fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. These include anxiety, depression and insomnia. With continued sobriety, symptoms will improve

Professional Fentanyl Detox vs. At-Home Fentanyl Detox

When deciding to quit fentanyl, you have the choice between a medically supervised fentanyl detox and an at-home detox. Although an at-home detox may be tempting, it carries some downsides that can impact your recovery process. Knowing the risks of an at-home detox is important before deciding on that detox method.

At-Home Detox

Quitting fentanyl cold turkey at home may seem tempting. However, medically supervised programs are much safer and more effective. Professional fentanyl detox programs can help wean you off fentanyl safely. They can also support you throughout the entire lifelong recovery process. Additionally, complications like potentially fatal dehydration are harder to address at home. 

Withdrawal symptoms during fentanyl detox can be hard to manage without help as well. Unfortunately, this often leads to relapse, which can be especially dangerous. This is because your fentanyl tolerance will decrease after quitting. When continue using fentanyl after quitting, this increases your risk of an overdose.

Medically-Assisted Detox

A medically-assisted fentanyl detox program is essential for reducing withdrawal symptoms. It can also increase your chances of long-term success in overcoming fentanyl addiction. This program provides various resources to help you safely navigate fentanyl detox. If deemed appropriate, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Medical professionals are available 24/7 to address your health needs and prevent complications.

Same-Day Admission for Fentanyl Detox in Atlanta

The Recovery Village Atlanta knows that time is of the essence when it comes to quitting opioids. When you are ready to quit fentanyl, it is best to do it as soon as possible to reduce your risk of an overdose. To this end, we offer same-day admissions to help get you into treatment for your fentanyl addiction as soon as you are ready.

FAQs About Fentanyl Withdrawal and Detox

Questions are common about fentanyl withdrawal and detox and include:

What is fentanyl withdrawal?

Fentanyl withdrawal occurs when you have taken fentanyl regularly. Over time, your body adapts to the presence of the drug. This means if you suddenly quit fentanyl, your central nervous system will struggle to get used to the drug’s absence. This absence of the drug is called withdrawal, which can cause uncomfortable symptoms.

How can I cope with fentanyl withdrawal symptoms?

The best way to cope with fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is to get medical help. Medication-assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine-based products is available in a professional medical detox setting. These medications are the gold standard treatment for fentanyl withdrawal. These medications can improve fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and reduce your fentanyl cravings. In turn, MAT sets you up for long-term sobriety from fentanyl.

How long does fentanyl stay in your system?

Fentanyl can stay in your system for long after the effects of the drug wear off. Fentanyl and its breakdown products can remain in your blood for up to 12 hours after the last dose and in urine for up to 3 days. Fentanyl can stay in your hair even longer — a 1.5-inch hair sample can show if fentanyl was used within the previous three months.

Can I detox from fentanyl at home?

Although it can be tempting to try to detox from fentanyl at home, this is not recommended. Instead, experts recommend the supportive environment available in a medical detox setting. For one thing, doctors can address withdrawal symptoms and cravings quickly. Also, you can avoid complications like severe dehydration from nausea and vomiting.

What is medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD)?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings. It can also help you maintain sobriety over the long term. MAT is used with other interventions like therapy to help you build the life skills necessary to remain off fentanyl for good. Several different medications can be used for MAT. However, the gold standard choices are methadone and buprenorphine.

If you or a loved one struggle with fentanyl, help is available. The Recovery Village Atlanta Drug and Alcohol Rehab offers a continuum of services to help you not only quit fentanyl but stay off the drug for good. Don’t wait: contact our caring fentanyl recovery advocates today to learn more.

Sources

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed December 26, 2023.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Protracted Withdrawal.” July 2010. Accessed December 26, 2023.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, Third Edition.” December 2012. Accessed December 26, 2023.

Darke, Shane; Larney, Sarah; Farrell, Michael. “Yes, people can die from opiate withdrawal.” National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. Accessed December 26, 2023.

Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P; Mitchell, Shannon D; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed December 26, 2023.

ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” October 2023. Accessed December 26, 2023.