Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

Fentanyl is a highly addictive opioid. Get to know what to expect in detox and the fentanyl withdrawal timeline.

No other drug is as newsworthy today as fentanyl. This dangerous synthetic opioid has been cited as the cause of a sharp rise in overdose deaths in recent years. Still, many people will abuse this drug and become addicted.

When someone decides the time has come to break free from a fentanyl addiction, they will first need to complete the detox process. Learn about fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, the detox timeline, and about taking the next steps in recovery.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid introduced in the 1960s for use as an anesthesia during surgeries. Fentanyl is a Schedule II controlled substance that is sold under the brand names Duragesic, Actiq, and Sublimaze. Fentanyl is about 80 times more potent than heroin.

Fentanyl comes in different forms. These include lozenge, nasal spray, film strip, or dermal patch forms. The dermal patch is a type of the drug that is often abused in many ways. The person may wear several patches at a time, which provides a high dosing of the drug. Or, they may scrape the gel off the patch and heat it up, then inject the liquid. Some people also vape this liquid form of the drug as well.

Illicit products have flooded into our borders. Someone who thinks they have purchased heroin on the street may have gotten heroin cut with fentanyl instead. Other drugs, such as cocaine and pills, have also been found to have fentanyl in them. This has led to a tragic spike in deaths.

About Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction

Fentanyl provides a feeling of euphoria and a deeply relaxed state. Like all opioids, it will attach to regions in the brain. As the drug is used more and more, it will begin to change the brain structures. In a short time, the person can become addicted to the substance.

Someone who has been taking this drug in ways not prescribed by a doctor will begin to display certain signs of addiction.

These symptoms might include:

  • Labored breathing.
  • Drowsiness
  • Chronic constipation.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Slowed heart rate.
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings.
  • Trouble urinating.
  • Chest pain
  • Lethargy
  • Slowed movements.
  • Withdrawing socially.
  • Doctor shopping.
  • Reckless behavior.
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Disorientation
  • Cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Signs of depression.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

When fentanyl is abused or taken without knowing it, there is a high risk of overdose. This would be a medical emergency that requires a fast response and someone who can dispense Narcan. Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Deep fatigue; feeling very groggy.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Pinpoint pupils.
  • Loss of coordination.
  • Mental confusion.
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble thinking straight.
  • Coma

When someone has been using this potent drug for a long time, their body and brain begin to expect it. They become used to the flood of dopamine produced by the fentanyl. The brain can no longer produce dopamine, so without the drug the person can feel no joy. Even more, without a constant dosing of the drug they will begin to have painful withdrawal symptoms when its effects wear off.

This throws the body into withdrawal. The symptoms might include:

  • Nausea; vomiting.
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Fever.
  • Weakness
  • Increased tearing of eyes.
  • Hot and cold flashes.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Runny nose.
  • Coughing
  • Insomnia
  • Constant yawning.
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Drug cravings.

How severe the symptoms are will be based on the person’s age and their health status. Other factors include how long they used the drug, and how much they used.

About the Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

During the detox phase, the person will be cared for by a trained detox team. They are going to be watching symptoms very closely through the whole process. As the symptoms present themselves, the support team will provide meds to help reduce the symptoms. Detox will progress through three distinct phases:

Phase I:  Symptoms start 12-30 hours after the last dose. This early phase lasts 48-72 hours and features muscle aches, runny nose, insomnia, sweating, and agitation.

Phase II: At this phase the symptoms will peak. They include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, runny nose, chills, fever, bone pain, agitation, anxiety, and depression. This phases lasts 3-5 days.

Phase III: The symptoms begin to subside at about one week, with cravings, anxiety, and depression lingering longer.

Now that the detox process is complete, it is time to begin treatment. Although outpatient treatment is offered, those with a fentanyl use disorder will need inpatient treatment.

Treatment for a Fentanyl Addiction

An inpatient rehab setting provides the highest level of care. The program is highly structured with many activities scheduled throughout the day. Rehab programs focus on giving the person the tools they will need to manage their recovery when on their own. This is done through these treatment elements:

Therapy. Both group and one-on-one therapy sessions are offered throughout the week. This will include CBT, which helps clients learn how to change their thought process.

Education. Clients are taught about how the substance causes the disease of addiction and how to avoid a relapse from occurring.

Psychosocial skills. Recovery success can depend on many factors. Learning how to relate in a more healthy way with others, and gaining other life skills, can improve outcomes.

Tackling detox and facing the fentanyl withdrawal timeline is great, but is only the first step of your recovery journey. For lasting success, plan on going through a full-spectrum treatment program, complete with aftercare planning.

Ken Seeley Communities Offers Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Ken Seeley Communities is a treatment program that provides help for those with a fentanyl addiction. If you or someone you love has a fentanyl problem, our expert team is here to help. We use evidence-based treatments to help someone break the grip of addiction. For more detail about the program, please call us today at (877) 744-0502.

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