Fentanyl Detox & Withdrawal

Fentanyl Detox & Withdrawal

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is used for chronic pain management, in terminal patients and those receiving end-of-life care, or for patients who have developed a tolerance to other opioids. It causes changes to your brain chemistry, as fentanyl fills the opioid receptors in your central nervous system, changing the way your neurotransmitters move. When you become dependent on fentanyl, your brain does not produce enough of its own neurotransmitters.

Withdrawal symptoms are your body’s attempt to adjust to not having fentanyl, and can occur if you have been taking it under prescription or recreationally. Fentanyl is very potent, more so than heroin, and if you have been using it for some time, quitting may seem impossible on your own.

Detoxing in a medical facility can help you to make it through to a life without fentanyl.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

The onset and intensity of your withdrawal symptoms depend on whether you have been using the transdermal patches (extended release), or the injectable form (short-acting). Withdrawal from fentanyl patches usually begins the day after your last dose. Short-acting fentanyl has a half life of only 219 minutes, so withdrawal symptoms may be felt two to four hours after your last dose.

Withdrawal symptoms peak in the first few days but usually improve within a week. Withdrawal symptoms can last for between four and 20 days, depending on whether you have been injecting fentanyl or using the transdermal patches.

Some common symptoms from fentanyl withdrawal include

  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Rapid breathing
  • Watery eyes and nose
  • Backache, joint and muscle pain
  • Stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia

Timeline of Withdrawal Symptoms

Your withdrawal timeline depends on

  • Your state of mental and physical health
  • The intensity and duration of your dependency
  • Your genetic makeup
  • Whether you had medical assistance

Short-acting fentanyl-like Actiq can be detoxed in four to 10 days, while long-acting fentanyl-like Duragesic may cause symptoms for 10 to 20 days. The acute detox period is approximately seven days.

Fentanyl withdrawal takes place in three stages: early withdrawal, peak and long term withdrawal.

Early withdrawal is typified by cravings, sweating, insomnia, muscle aches, shaking and chills, and a runny nose.

The peak of fentanyl withdrawal occurs two to four days after your last use. It usually lasts for about a week.

Long-term withdrawal symptoms include loss of pleasure, relapse dreams, and positive feelings known as the ‘pink cloud syndrome’. It is common to experience negative feelings like remorse, guilt, shame and anger once you have progressed into a later stage of withdrawal.

Long-term withdrawal symptoms

8 to 30 hours after your last dose Mild symptoms are likely to start

36-72 hours after your last dose
Your physical symptoms are likely to be their most intense.

Day five to day eight
Your primary withdrawal symptoms usually subside by this point but it can take some weeks in certain people.

Weeks or months later
Some physical symptoms like greater pain sensitivity and psychological symptoms like depression, sleep disturbances and anxiety may remain.

How to Detox from Fentanyl Safely

Fentanyl should not be quit ‘cold turkey’; it needs to be removed slowly from your body by a tapering method which must be medically supervised and scheduled by a professional. This means that there needs to be a small amount of it in your system to alleviate the most intense withdrawal symptoms, and this amount must be decreased slowly over a period of time.

Sometimes a substitute opioid like long-acting morphine or methadone is used to replace fentanyl, and is then tapered off slowly. After switching medication, the dose will be reduced incrementally over a period of weeks or months, until your body can cope without fentanyl. The safest way to detox from fentanyl is in a medical facility.

Trusting Your Doctors

It might be difficult to trust your doctor if you developed a dependency after fentanyl was prescribed for you, or if you have been abusing it for some time, but in order for your medical team to support your detox and withdrawal, you must disclose all the facts about your substance abuse. If you have been using other substances or alcohol, this can affect your withdrawal and even though you may not want to discuss your habits, it is in your best interests to do so. If you have been using someone else’s prescription or consulting with other doctors, you must disclose this information.

Most GPs will recommend a medically-supervised detox for fentanyl withdrawal, because of the risks of relapse, overdose and overdose death.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Risks

Because of the potency and short half life of fentanyl, withdrawal does pose some risks. There have been deaths from fentanyl withdrawal, although many of these occurred when the person was alone and did not have medical support. Death can result from diarrhea and vomiting, which leads to dehydration and toxic levels of sodium accumulating in your body, contributing to heart failure.

Trying to quit fentanyl cold turkey is very risky, as withdrawal symptoms can progress quickly and become uncontrollable without medical support. The intense cravings for fentanyl in the withdrawal period put you at risk of relapse, overdose and overdose death.

In a Residential Setting

Because of the risks associated with fentanyl withdrawal, it is highly recommended to detox in a residential setting. This means you live at the detox center for the duration of your program and you will be monitored 24-hours a day to ensure you are safe and comfortable.

Your vital signs, hydration, nutrition and sleep cycle will be looked after by a medical team so that withdrawal symptoms are manageable and you are safe. Once you have completed residential detox, it is easier to transition into a rehab program where you can start to identify and address the reasons behind your addiction.

Why Choose United Recovery CA for Fentanyl Detox?

Our aim is to help our clients detox from Fentanyl safely. Our detox centers are fully equipped and resourced to support recovery, and our medical team members are addiction specialists. We provide medical assistance and emotional support through the most difficult periods of detox, regardless of how long your symptoms last or how severe they are.

When you are admitted, our team will create a tailored detox plan based on your medical history and risk factors. We will ensure that your loved ones are kept updated about your progress and that you feel safe and comfortable throughout your stay.

About United Recovery Project

Why Choose United Recovery CA for Fentanyl Detox and Withdrawal?

Our medical detox and rehabilitation center has been designed for comfort and safety. We enable our patients to retreat into a luxurious and non-judgmental space where you receive 24-hour medical supervision and clinical interventions to help you forge your long term recovery path. Once your drug detox is complete you can enroll for in-patient or out-patient rehab in a familiar setting as you learn the tools and coping skills required to address the underlying triggers that resulted in your Fentanyl dependency. Aftercare, support groups and sober living homes provide you with extended care programs that facilitate long term sobriety in an understanding community.

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Is a Detox Enough to Tackle Addiction?

A detox program is the first part of recovering from a Fentanyl dependency, by breaking through your physical addiction to the substance. In order to sustain a sober future, you will also need to address the emotional and psychological triggers that contributed to your habit.

Once you have completed your detox program and you are physically stable, you will be able to enter a rehab program where these triggers can be explored.

Long term recovery can only be achieved through a process of counseling and group therapy. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy sessions you can examine factors like abuse, trauma, your stress response and relationships issues that contributed to the choices you made.

Attending group therapy and family therapy will give you different perspectives on how to deal with the challenges that come with living without Fentanyl, and help you to heal damaged relationships.

Once you have done this, you will be able to create healthy coping skills for your Fentanyl-free future. If you do not go through the entire process, including aftercare and extended support, your risk of relapsing is very high.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

I need it for my health, can I really stop using Fentanyl?

Yes, with medical support it is possible to stop using Fentanyl. When you are admitted for your detox program you will be assessed and based on your risk profile, you will either be placed on a tapering schedule or on substitute medication, which will also be tapered. You should not try to quit using Fentanyl on your own or stop ‘cold turkey’. The safest way to approach detox is in a residential environment.

Does my insurance cover Fentanyl detox?

Addiction is classified as a chronic disease and most insurance providers will cover a medical detox and rehab program with medication, either fully or in part. The amount of cover you can claim will depend on the particulars of your policy and its terms and conditions. We suggest you enquire about this before you enroll in your detox program so you know whether you have out-of-pocket costs to pay. We can assist you with this enquiry should you need help.

When should I seek detox?

If you have tried unsuccessfully to stop using fentanyl in the past or if you find yourself having to use more of it in order to achieve the same result, it is time to detox. If you are using someone else’s prescription or consulting with more than one GP to get Fentanyl, it is time for you to detox. If you are abusing Fentanyl because you have developed tolerance to other opioids, you need medical assistance.

Can I get a detox-only program?

A detox-only program is not recommended because it does not offer you comprehensive treatment. A detox is step one of your recovery process, and it needs to be followed by a systematic rehab program that explores why and how you became dependent on Fentanyl. Once you understand what motivated your behavior in the past, you can make healthier and more informed choices for your sober future. Without a comprehensive rehab program in place, you are at risk of relapse and overdose, and overdose can be fatal.

What are the meds you use during detox?

There are three FDA-approved medications for fentanyl dependence: methadone and buprenorphine (which are replacement medications) and naltrexone (which blocks the effects of opioids). Using replacement medications manages cravings during detox. In addition, other medications may be used to manage unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Antidepressants may be prescribed, and antihistamines may be required for insomnia. Medications like Clonidine may be used for heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. Symptomatic medication may be required for cramps diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.

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