Fentanyl is a powerful drug that has become a serious issue over the past decade. It is a synthetically created opioid reportedly 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, as reported by the DEA.
Fentanyl was originally developed as a medication to help cancer patients treat their pain and was applied as a topical skin patch; however, due to Fentanyl’s high opioid capabilities, the potential for addiction is high as well.
While legal Fentanyl is used as a pain reliever in medical environments, illegal Fentanyl, also known as street Fentanyl, is unregulated and can be deadly. Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs to create a stronger, more potent narcotic that gets more people addicted.
Often, Fentanyl is added to heroin to increase its strength, or drug dealers will sell junkies Fentanyl disguised as heroin. Fentanyl can cause overdoses in incredibly small amounts, which means that people unaware they are consuming Fentanyl instead of heroin can accidentally overdose or die.
Because Fentanyl is a dangerous drug with a high potential for abuse and addiction, it is important to know how to handle withdrawal symptoms and detoxification. Withdrawal and detoxing from drugs are no easy tasks. They are intense and can cause the user lots of pain and discomfort. However, getting clean from drugs is always worth it.
Please continue reading to learn more about Fentanyl and Fentanyl withdrawal and detoxification, including the signs and symptoms of withdrawal, the detoxification timeline, and how to mitigate the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal.
Withdrawal Signs & Symptoms From A Fentanyl Detox
Because Fentanyl is an opioid and has a huge potential to cause an opioid addiction, it also has the potential to cause user withdrawal when they stop taking Fentanyl. The risk for addiction and abuse of Fentanyl is the same regardless of whether it is administered in a medical setting or taken illegally.
Users who consume Fentanyl at unregulated or unprescribed levels have a different reaction to the drug than people who consume it in a medical environment. People consuming Fentanyl without a prescription and monitoring consume more Fentanyl to experience a euphoria similar to heroin.
Once a person has consumed Fentanyl for an extended time, they can become a victim of fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl targets the central nervous system of the body, which include the brain and spinal cord, to a large degree. When the drug reaches the opioid receptors in the central nervous system, it causes a huge amount of dopamine into the brain.
Dopamine is the chemical that makes us feel happy and works with the reward system in our brain to make us do the things that release dopamine to feel joy. Because Fentanyl releases huge amounts of dopamine in the brain, our reward system begins to crave dopamine. So, therefore, we crave the drug that causes the release of dopamine, which in this case would be Fentanyl. This is the basis of addiction.
Signs of Withdrawal
Fentanyl withdrawal can be observed in a variety of different symptoms. The following is a list of typical Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and signs.
- Severe cravings for Fentanyl
- Muscular aches and pains
- Sour mood or moodiness
- Dilated pupils
A person experiencing these symptoms after stopping their consumption of Fentanyl is likely beginning the withdrawal process and should prepare themselves for the withdrawal and detoxification experience.
Withdrawal from Fentanyl is not comfortable, and many people find it incredibly difficult. Withdrawal from an opioid is an extremely difficult experience, but it is worth it in the end.
Some users will feel withdrawal from Fentanyl within 24 hours of their last usage. Others may experience withdrawal symptoms 24 to 36 hours after their last Fentanyl dose. Most Fentanyl users will deal with the worst symptoms within the first few days of their withdrawal experience.
This is because Fentanyl has a 219-minute half-life. Withdrawal symptoms typically improve after the first few days. This process can be sped up with proper healthcare, taking care of your physical body, and going to counseling.
The length of the withdrawal period can depend on a variety of factors. These factors are typically genetics, any present underlying medical conditions, and the severity of the user’s addiction. The severity of the user’s addiction is dictated by how long they have used Fentanyl and how much they use each day.
Early Withdrawal Symptoms
The earliest symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal typically arrive 2 to 4 hours after their last dosage. These early symptoms include slight aches and pains around the body, chills, and lots of yawning.
There may also be feelings of restlessness, cravings for Fentanyl, and anxiety surrounding drug use and getting more drugs.
Peak Withdrawal Symptoms
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms peak 24 to 36 hours after the last dosage. These peak symptoms can last up to a week after the last use and feature increased severity of earlier withdrawal symptoms.
During this time, a person may experience other symptoms of withdrawal that may require medical attention or specialized care, such as fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Long-Term Withdrawal Symptoms
The longer-term Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include depression, anger management issues, self-harm, difficulty sleeping, moodiness or mood disorders, pink cloud syndrome, and heightened pain sensitivity.
After someone has detoxed from Fentanyl, they must follow up with medical and psychological care to ensure that their body is healthy and to help fight the psychological urges to relapse.
Dangers of Fentanyl Withdrawal
Any type of opioid causes extreme withdrawal symptoms, and Fentanyl is no different. Fentanyl withdrawal is typically not a life-threatening experience, but it is important to know that medical complications can occur.
Since diarrhea, vomiting, and fever are three very common fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, dehydration is a major concern of fentanyl withdrawal. Dehydration can worsen the experience of withdrawal and put the individual in an unsafe situation.
Dehydration is incredibly serious because a steady and fast loss of fluids over a short time can cause a buildup of sodium in the body. Sodium buildup can cause heart failure, leading to death or other cardiovascular issues.
If a person going through Fentanyl withdrawal becomes dehydrated, they will likely require an IV drip to help replenish the fluids they lost to withdrawal.
How To Mitigate Detox Symptoms
Luckily, there are ways to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms of Fentanyl. Medical professionals have created systems to help ease the pain and protect the lives of people dealing with Fentanyl and other types of opioid withdrawal.
There are a variety of medications that can help ease the pain and reduce the intensity of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. As a result, some people choose to quit Fentanyl cold turkey. Others prefer to use medication or wean themselves off the drug over time.
If an individual chooses to use medication, they must be monitored by a healthcare expert who can administer a drug such as buprenorphine or Naltrexone. A healthcare professional can only administer these drugs because they can cause different addictions and cause the person to withdraw again.
For those who choose to wean off Fentanyl over time, this must also be done under medical supervision. Weaning oneself off Fentanyl without medical supervision can open the door to relapse.
A relapse during Fentanyl withdrawal or while weaning off Fentanyl can often result in an overdose or death. This is because the user will go back to the dosage they were taking when they had a tolerance to the narcotic, but because they are experiencing withdrawal, they do not have the same tolerance. Therefore the dosage they were taking before could kill them easily.
Professional and Emotional Assistance
The best way to get through any sort of drug withdrawal, especially opioid or Fentanyl withdrawal, is to rely on those around you, such as friends and family. Your friends and family are your core, and they are your support team. If you can rely on them safely, then you should.
In addition to trusting your friends and family, relying on professional assistance or systems such as a professional health care facility or detox center is a very smart move. A detox center or rehab facility can help mitigate the discomfort you feel during withdrawal and keep you distracted from the pain and safe from relapsing.
They can also help you with psychological help that can give you power over the mental side of withdrawal, like cravings and depression.
If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl addiction or fentanyl withdrawal, reach out to us today to begin getting the professional care you deserve and need. Take the first step today to reach a brighter tomorrow.
Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.
- Kuip EJM, Zandvliet ML, Koolen SLW, Mathijssen RHJ, van der Rijt CCD. A review of factors explaining variability in fentanyl pharmacokinetics; focus on implications for cancer patients. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2017;83(2):294-313. doi:10.1111/bcp.13129
- Drug Enforcement Administration. Fentanyl. Retrieved July 26, 2022. https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/fentanyl
- Jacques, E. VeryWell Mind. How Long Does Withdrawal From Opioids Last? Published March 26, 2020. Retrieved October 21, 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/opioid-withdrawal-2564485