Timeline For Fentanyl Detox And Withdrawal

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 27, 2022

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid. Detoxing from this drug may require medical treatment and around-the-clock supervision. The safest way to detox from fentanyl once addicted is through medical detoxification, or medical detox.

Timeline Of Fentanyl Detox

Fentanyl is a highly potent synthetic opioid. Detoxing from fentanyl without clinical support and supervision can be dangerous, especially if you have a fentanyl addiction.

Fentanyl is an opioid drug also prescribed as:

  • Duragesic
  • Actiq
  • Sublimaze
  • Abstral
  • Fentora

Fentanyl detox is highly recommended for anyone who’s taken prescription fentanyl for a long time, or has misused fentanyl in its prescribed or illicitly manufactured forms.

Learn more about how to detox from opioids

Dangers Of Fentanyl Detox

Do not stop taking fentanyl all at once. If you’ve been taking fentanyl for more than a few weeks, this could cause symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal.

Detoxing from fentanyl can be dangerous in part due to withdrawal symptoms, but also due to a risk of relapse without medical support and accidental overdose after detox.

Risk Of Overdose With Fentanyl Detox

Fentanyl is a potent drug. It’s about 50 times as powerful as heroin, an illicit opiate. After detoxing from fentanyl, your tolerance for fentanyl will be reduced.

What does this mean? This means your body won’t react to it the same way if you try to take the same amount of fentanyl that you did prior to detox.

Instead, this could overwhelm the body and result in drug overdose. Overdose deaths involving fentanyl have increased in recent years, and detox is a risk factor for this.

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Risk Of Relapse With Fentanyl Detox

Relapse to fentanyl use after detox is a major concern among those seeking to overcome fentanyl abuse or addiction.

This is, in part, why medical detox programs are recommended. Relapse after fentanyl detox, or during the detox process, could result in accidental overdose.

With a detox program, there’s a reduced risk of relapse, in part because an inpatient environment can physically separate you from fentanyl and other addictive substances.

Is Fentanyl Withdrawal Dangerous?

Opioid withdrawal is not typically life-threatening. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be mild to severe in nature and may cause you to feel very physically sick.

Some withdrawal symptoms, however, can be dangerous if they are not properly treated, or if you attempt to detox outside of a supportive care environment.

Potential dangers of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • severe dehydration: Side effects of detox, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating can cause dehydration. Without replenishing, this could become serious.
  • electrolyte imbalances: Excessive vomiting and diarrhea can deplete the body of essential vitamins and minerals. This could cause life-threatening electrolyte imbalances.
  • exacerbated health conditions: Fentanyl withdrawal may worsen or exacerbate other medical and mental health conditions.

Withdrawal may cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. Without treatment, cravings for fentanyl can also become very strong during detox.

Fentanyl Detox And Withdrawal Symptoms

If you’re physically dependent on fentanyl, you may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within hours of taking your last dose.

Common early signs of withdrawal include:

  • agitation
  • restlessness
  • teary eyes
  • runny nose
  • muscle and bone pain
  • excessive yawning
  • sweating
  • trouble sleeping

Within the first few days, additional symptoms of withdrawal may begin to set in. These can grow more intense over the first three to four days, before beginning to decline.

Late withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • goosebumps
  • hot and cold flashes
  • dilated pupils
  • fast breathing
  • stomach cramps
  • drug cravings

Protracted Withdrawal After Fentanyl Detox

Protracted withdrawal is a syndrome that can develop in some people who detox from fentanyl after developing severe drug dependence.

Protracted withdrawal, also known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, is identified by withdrawal symptoms that last beyond the first one to two weeks of detox.

Common signs of protracted withdrawal after fentanyl detox include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • drug cravings
  • mood swings

Protracted withdrawal may last months or years. This can be treated with substance abuse treatment services such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapy.

Who Needs Fentanyl Detox?

Fentanyl detox is recommended for anyone who’s become dependent on prescription fentanyl products or illicit forms of fentanyl—including illicit drugs laced with fentanyl.

This includes:

  • people who have taken prescription fentanyl for more than a few weeks
  • people who misuse fentanyl
  • people who have become addicted to fentanyl
  • people who misuse fentanyl in combination with other drugs (e.g. heroin)

Fentanyl detox services are offered by many detox facilities and inpatient treatment centers in the U.S. that offer treatment for the abuse of fentanyl and addiction.

Treatment For Fentanyl Detox

Do not try to detox from fentanyl alone. This could lead to life-threatening outcomes without a robust support system.

Treatment for fentanyl detox may be offered through a medical detox program, or an inpatient rehab center that offers opioid detox services for people with drug addiction.

Medical Detox For Fentanyl Addiction

Medical detox is the safest way to detox from fentanyl. This is an inpatient detox program that can offer medical treatment, monitoring, and 24-hour clinical support.

Benefits of medical detox include:

  • reduced risk of relapse
  • 24-hour medical supervision
  • offers treatment for withdrawal symptoms
  • can offer referrals for drug rehab at a nearby treatment facility

Medications For Fentanyl Detox And Withdrawal

Medical detox programs may offer certain medications for treating fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and preparing individuals for an addiction treatment program.

Medications that can help during fentanyl detox:

  • methadone: Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist and maintenance medication that can reduce drug cravings and the severity of withdrawal.
  • buprenorphine: Buprenorphine, also known as Subutex or Suboxone, is a partial opioid agonist that can reduce drug cravings and help prevent relapse.
  • naltrexone: Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that can reduce cravings for fentanyl and alcohol. It may be induced after acute withdrawal.
  • clonidine: Clonidine can help relieve symptoms of withdrawal, such as pain, nausea, anxiety, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • lofexidine: Lofexidine, also known as Lucemyra, is a non-opioid medication that can also help relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms, including high blood pressure.

Medication for co-occurring disorders may also be provided during medical detox to ensure patient safety and prevent complications.

Read more about medication-assisted treatment for opioid detox

Fentanyl Detox FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about fentanyl detox, fentanyl withdrawal, and treatment options for fentanyl addiction after detox.

❓ What Type Of Drug Is Fentanyl?

✔️ Fentanyl is a prescription painkiller. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioids. It is prescribed for severe pain, chronic pain, and is also manufactured in illicit forms.

Fentanyl comes in the following forms:

  • lozenge
  • patch
  • shot

Illicitly manufactured fentanyl may be sold in the form of a powder, pill, nasal spray, or be dropped on blotter paper.

❓ Can I Stop Using Fentanyl?

✔️ Do not stop fentanyl without first seeking medical advice from a doctor. Stopping fentanyl cold-turkey, or all at once, could cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

❓ How Long Does Fentanyl Detox Last?

✔️ The amount of time it takes to detox from fentanyl is four to 10 days on average. This may last longer if you have been taking an extended-release formulation.

Call Today To Find Fentanyl Detox And Addiction Treatment

Millions of Americans seek treatment for opioid addiction each year. If you’re seeking detox for yourself or a loved one addicted to fentanyl, we may be able to help.

Begin your journey toward recovery today. Call our helpline phone number now to find a fentanyl detox program that’s right for you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D on May 27, 2022
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