Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug, one of the most common drugs involved in overdose deaths. Even a small dose of fentanyl can be deadly.
Nearly 150 people die daily from synthetic opioid overdose, such as fentanyl.
There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Typically, pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed to treat severe advanced-stage cancer pain or post-surgery. Illegal versions of fentanyl are popular due to its heroin-like effect.
What Is Fentanyl? How Do I Know I Need Help?
Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, roughly 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, making it highly addictive. Its high potency makes it more likely for someone to overdose, particularly for people unaware that a powder or pill contains it.
Like other opioids, fentanyl works on the central nervous system’s pain receptors. After taking fentanyl repeatedly, the body adapts to the drug, lessening the sensitivity to its effects and making it harder to feel pleasure from anything else but the drug. When someone becomes addicted to fentanyl, using it often takes over their lives.
When someone experiences a fentanyl overdose, it’s time to seek help. Detoxing from fentanyl can be extremely painful. Depending on the amount of fentanyl someone regularly consumes, detoxing from the drug can be potentially fatal.
Fentanyl Detox: What to Expect
When someone detoxes from fentanyl, they can expect to experience physical withdrawal symptoms shortly after taking their last dose. After overcoming the physical symptoms of detox, individuals will likely experience some emotional or mental health symptoms. It’s common for people to continue to misuse fentanyl to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
MAT Treatments for Fentanyl
Fentanyl addiction is treated with medications and behavioral therapies. Some of the medication-assisted treatment medications for fentanyl addiction include buprenorphine and methadone.
These medications work similarly to fentanyl, bonding to pain receptors in the central nervous system. This partial blockage helps reduce cravings and decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms while also tricking the body into thinking it’s consumed a little fentanyl too.
Another medication, naloxone, blocks opioid receptors completely and prevents fentanyl from having any effect.
Behavioral Health Therapies for Fentanyl
Over time, behavioral therapies can help people change their attitudes and behaviors towards drug use, increase healthy coping skills, and encourage them to stick with their MAT medication.
Some standard behavioral health therapies for fentanyl addiction include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), helps individuals modify their drug use expectations and effectively manage triggers and stress.
- Contingency management, applies the voucher-based system, scoring individuals on a point system based on their negative drug tests. They can then use the points to earn items that encourage healthy living.
- Motivational interviewing, is a patient-centered counseling style that directly addresses a person’s mixed feelings to change their drug misuse behaviors.
What’s the Timeline for Fentanyl Withdrawal?
Fentanyl withdrawal can begin as early as a few hours after your last dose.
Anyone with a fentanyl use disorder will need at least seven to ten days to recover from the physical symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal.
Depending on the length of the fentanyl abuse, someone may need additional time to recover from the after-effects of fentanyl leaving the body. Sometimes it takes a few months to recover from fentanyl withdrawal fully. In extreme cases, some people may need years to recover.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are very similar to other opioid withdrawal symptoms. Everyone will detox differently. Some people may experience the following symptoms, while others may only experience a select few.
Physical Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:
- muscle and bone pain
- sleep problems
- diarrhea and vomiting
- cold flashes and goosebumps
- uncontrollable leg movements
Because these symptoms are so uncomfortable, many people find it difficult to stop taking fentanyl.
Mental Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Because substance abuse is a mental health disorder, drug abuse often comes with mental health effects.
Some of the emotional issues that can happen during the fentanyl withdrawal process include:
- mood swings
- memory issues or cognition
- intense fentanyl cravings
Fentanyl Detox Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
With the increase in fentanyl abuse, the need for opioid treatment becomes more vital. The following are common questions someone looking to heal from fentanyl abuse may ask:
Is It Safe To Detox from Fentanyl Alone?
It is never recommended to detox from any opioid alone, especially fentanyl. People who consume fentanyl regularly decrease their respiratory rate and blood pressure. Then, when they discontinue the drug, they can experience a sudden increase in blood pressure, which may trigger a heart attack or stroke.
Because of fentanyl’s potency, suddenly discontinuing the drug can come with a host of emotional issues. Without the assistance of a detox program, these people are highly likely to relapse and increase the risk of harming themselves.
How Is Fentanyl Detox Different from Other Opioids?
If someone is addicted to an extended-release version of the drug, it will have a longer half-life and take longer to leave the body. This also means that withdrawal symptoms can take longer to appear.
No matter what form of fentanyl you’re struggling with, a detox program can help.
Benefits of Fentanyl Detox at ARIA
Opioid abuse can alter your brain chemistry. The longer you wait to find treatment, the more likely the changes in brain chemistry will become permanent. With the help of a fentanyl detox program, you or your loved one can break free of substance abuse and finally start living again. Call 844.973.2611 or complete our confidential online form for more information.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Fentanyl DrugFacts
The United States Drug Enforcement Administration – Fentanyl NARCOTICS (OPIOIDS)