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.
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.
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:
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.
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. inpatient treatment.