Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

fentanyl withdrawal timeline

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication that is used to treat severe cases of pain. While the substance is similar to morphine, it is about 50 to 100 times stronger, making it much more dangerous and deadly than other opioids. 

Unfortunately, fentanyl is found in many other drugs on the street. For example, while someone may think they are buying a Percocet pill, they are actually buying a pressed pill that is filled with fentanyl. Unknowingly ingesting fentanyl causes many people to experience accidental and life-threatening overdoses. 

While most people accidentally take fentanyl, some individuals begin abusing this drug once other opioids do not affect them anymore (or once they have developed a tolerance). Regular fentanyl abuse can result in physical dependence and addiction.

Detoxing from fentanyl isn’t life-threatening, but it can be severe and painful. A medical detox center can help guide individuals through the fentanyl withdrawal timeline safely and comfortably.

What are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal?

Like any other substance, the intensity of withdrawal symptoms will depend on how much and how often the individual was using fentanyl. Withdrawal symptoms associated with fentanyl include physical and psychological effects, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Depression 
  • Excessive sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety 
  • Irritability and agitation 
  • Chills and goosebumps
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Abdominal cramps

While fentanyl withdrawal cannot cause life-threatening seizures like alcohol or benzodiazepines, some of the symptoms can become concerning. For example, excessive sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting can lead to severe dehydration without proper treatment. Additionally, the depression associated with fentanyl withdrawal can lead to suicidal ideation, making it important for individuals to receive professional care. 

The Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline 

While the fentanyl withdrawal timeline varies from person to person, the symptoms usually begin around 12 hours after an individual’s last dosage. Because fentanyl is a short-acting opioid, withdrawal usually peaks within a few days and begins to resolve over a week. However, some individuals may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome for several weeks after. 

A general timeline for fentanyl withdrawal is:

Early Symptoms 

The early symptoms of withdrawal may begin as soon as 2 to 4 hours after the last dose. These symptoms may include slight body discomforts such as excessive yawning, body aches, and chills. These symptoms can mimic that of the common flu. 

Additionally, people may experience psychological side effects during this time. Some of those symptoms may include feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and cravings. 

Peak Symptoms 

The peak symptoms are the worst and most uncomfortable symptoms individuals will experience throughout the withdrawal process. This usually begins 24 to 36 hours after the person’s last use and lasts for up to a week. 

The symptoms associated with this stage of fentanyl withdrawal may include more intense early symptoms, as well as additional symptoms like fever, vomiting, and increased breathing rate. This is when most people require medications in a detox program to soothe their symptoms. 

Long-Term Symptoms 

While most people complete the withdrawal process after a week, some individuals may experience symptoms for a much longer period. This is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome. Because symptoms can recur, people need to seek continuous medical detox care to prevent themselves from experiencing a relapse. 

Long-term symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:

  • An inability to experience pleasure
  • Depression 
  • Pink cloud syndrome 
  • Volatile mood disorders
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Feelings or actions of self-harm 
  • Increased sensitivity to pain 
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

How Does Medical Detox Help With The Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline?

Medical detox uses a combination of withdrawal management practices to soothe a patient’s symptoms of withdrawal so they don’t experience severe symptoms that could motivate them to relapse. Detox is always the first step in the addiction recovery process. 

Detox can help by:

  • Reducing the pain and discomfort associated with fentanyl withdrawal 
  • Providing the ability to identify other health conditions that could contribute to an individual’s pain and discomfort 
  • Receiving long-term recovery plans to overcome opioid use disorder 
  • Reducing the risk of relapse 
  • Removing the physical dependence on fentanyl and other opioid substances 
  • Administering medications that help soothe symptoms of withdrawal 
  • Providing referrals to long-term residential rehab and outpatient treatment 

Medical detox is not the only step towards recovery from fentanyl addiction. It is important for someone suffering from this condition to attend a full continuum of care. This means attending medical detox, transitioning into inpatient treatment, and then stepping down into outpatient rehab. 

Attending a continuum of care allows patients to collect all of the tools and positive coping mechanisms they need to gain and maintain long-term sobriety. 

Finding Help for Fentanyl Withdrawal 

Fentanyl abuse can quickly lead to addiction and a life-threatening overdose. Because of the dangers of fentanyl abuse and addiction, individuals need to attend a medical detox center to overcome their symptoms of withdrawal and avoid an unnecessary relapse. 

At Moving Mountains Recovery Center, we provide our patients with all of the tools they need to succeed. From medical detox to outpatient rehab, we offer a continuum of care that is unmatched. Contact us today for more information on how to get started. 

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