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Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms


If you are addicted to Fentanyl and are concerned what types of Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms you may experience should you stop using, then it is important to research and understand what Fentanyl withdrawal includes so that you can mentally prepare yourself prior to beginning detox. Fentanyl withdrawal can be dangerous when attempted alone, so it is important to take the right steps prior to stopping usage so that you can detox safely and in a controlled environment. Below is a guide to what Fentanyl is and how it interacts in the body, common Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, the Fentanyl withdrawal timeline, and the steps you can take to make sure you detox safely.

How Fentanyl Affects the Body

Before analyzing the common withdrawal symptoms experienced during Fentanyl detox, it is important to understand what Fentanyl is and how it affects the body in order to have foundational knowledge about why these withdrawal symptoms arise when your body stops receiving Fentanyl. Fentanyl is commonly used in the treatment and management of pain and is often prescribed following major surgery or to patients who have developed tolerances to other common prescription pain medications.

Fentanyl is often recognized for its potency as it is fifty times more potent than Heroin and one hundred times stronger than Morphine. While this potency can be beneficial for treating and managing severe pain, it can be extremely addictive and dangerous when abused.

Because Fentanyl is highly addictive, it is classified as a Schedule II drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In its prescription form, Fentanyl is often known by a variety of different brand names, such as Actiq®, Fentora®, Duragesic®, Lazanda®, or Sublimaze®. However, when purchased illicitly, Fentanyl has garnered a number of different street names, including Apache, China Town, China Girl, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, Murder 8, and Tango and Cash.

What is Fentanyl? Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that functions by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are areas within the brain that control emotions and pain. When Fentanyl successfully binds to these opioid receptors, it increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which produces feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and relaxation. While these feelings are often contribute to the formation of an addiction, because Fentanyl binds to opioid receptors within the brain, it affects a number of other vital bodily processes.

Opioid receptors are found within the areas of the brain that control breathing rate, which can cause those who ingest high doses of Fentanyl to cease breathing completely, which can lead to coma and death. In addition, due to the high potency of Fentanyl, the chance of overdosing is subsequently increased. Other potential side effects that are often associated with Fentanyl include nausea, confusion, sedation, tolerance, respiratory depression and arrest, and unconsciousness. It is important to keep Fentanyls biological influence on the body and the brain in mind when analyzing common Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

Common Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Fentanyl withdrawal begins when someone who is addicted to Fentanyl and has developed a physical dependency on it ceases taking Fentanyl and begins to wean their body off of its dependency. There are a number of different approaches to successfully detox the body from a Fentanyl dependency and begin recovery.

Which approach will work best is dependent on a myriad of different factors, including severity of the dependency, age, preexisting medical and mental health conditions, and whether or not there is a dependency to any other substances. It is important to work with qualified medical professional to develop a detox strategy that works for you and will give you the best chance possible of detoxing safely and beginning a long-lasting recovery.

One commonly known method for detoxing the body from Fentanyl addiction is to quit “cold turkey,” which means to stop taking Fentanyl without weaning the body off by steadily lowering the dose or switching to a lower dose drug to step the body down. Stopping Fentanyl use “cold turkey” can be very dangerous and will often lead to much more severe, prolonged withdrawal symptoms.

Individuals also sometimes take a pharmacological approach in coordination with medical professionals at a detox center, which involves gradually reducing the dosage of the Fentanyl until completely weaned off or slowly weaning from Fentanyl to a milder drug and then to nothing at all. There are any number of prescription drugs, timelines, and methods to approach detox, and it is important to work with a qualified staff at a treatment center to determine the safest method for you.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary in duration and severity, but there are a number of common symptoms that individuals often experience when detoxing from a Fentanyl dependency. Below are a handful of the most common Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

  • Sweating: As your body begins to attempt to function without the same level of Fentanyl it is used to in the bloodstream, it may begin to secrete sweat in an attempt to regulate the body temperature and rid the body of toxins.
  • Exhaustion and fatigue: Withdrawal can be a very taxing process on the body as it is thrown wildly out of equilibrium and attempts to regain normal functions. As a result, it is common to experience exhaustion and fatigue during and after withdrawal as the body regulates itself.
  • Chills, fevers, or goosebumps: The symptoms of withdrawal can sometimes mimic those of being sick, such as in the feelings of chills, the presence of a fever, or goosebumps. The body is working to rid itself of the Fentanyl and regulate the temperature of the body, which can cause these symptoms to appear.
  • Muscle aches or bone pain: Because Fentanyl affects the opioid receptors that control feelings of pain, it is common to experience muscle aches and bone pain during withdrawal from a Fentanyl addiction. These symptoms may be heightened in severity depending on how strong the dependency to Fentanyl was.
  • Nausea or vomiting: As the body attempts to regain equilibrium, it can become very ill during the intervening time. As a result, it is common to experience nausea and vomiting during withdrawal from a Fentanyl dependency.
  • Cravings or obsession about the substance: While many symptoms of withdrawal are physical, there are a number of key psychological symptoms that may arise, chief among them is overwhelming cravings to use Fentanyl and an obsession with obtaining Fentanyl to stop the symptoms of withdrawal. Because Fentanyl floods the brain with manufactured dopamine that creates feelings of pleasure and euphoria, in its absence individuals can become fixated on attaining these feelings of pleasure, particularly when in the grip of severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Irritation or mood swings: Due to the inherent irritation and uncomfortable nature of experiencing withdrawal, it is common for individuals to display feelings of irritation or mood swings during the withdrawal process. Withdrawal can cause individuals to experience a battery of different emotions within a short timeframe, so it is best to be surrounded with understanding and caring individuals that are forewarned about the mood swings that may arise during the withdrawal process.
  • Loss of appetite: As the body undergoes the difficult process of detox and returning to a normal, regulated function without reliance on Fentanyl, individuals may experience a loss of appetite. Just as when the body is ill, those who are experiencing nausea, vomiting, and intense muscle aches are not likely to be focused on finding their next meal. However, as the body begins to attain a state of equilibrium, a healthy appetite should return.
  • Memory problems or difficulty focusing: Because Fentanyl is a substance that affects receptors within the brain, individuals may experience memory problems or difficulty focusing during the withdrawal process. Often this haze and confusion will begin to subside as individuals reach the end of withdrawal and their brain can begin functioning normally once again on its own.
  • Itching, sneezing, and coughing: As your body goes through the withdrawal process, it can begin to exhibit symptoms that are more commonly associated with a cold, such as itching, sneezing, and coughing. These symptoms are a side effect of the body’s struggle to function without Fentanyl and should subside when withdrawal ends.


Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

Before embarking on a detox, it is important to know the timeline of how long you may experience withdrawal symptoms so that you know what to expect and have an end in sight for when the discomfort will cease. Fentanyl addiction is particularly difficult to detox the body from because of its potency and the way that it changes how the brain functions by binding to opioid receptors. When the body is no longer receiving Fentanyl, it begins to struggle to regain balance and equilibrium in the absence of the dosage of Fentanyl it is anticipating. In severe cases of painkiller addiction, the brain could have drastically changed its natural responses due to the continuous dosages of Fentanyl it received, which may cause more severe and prolonged symptoms of withdrawal.

Fentanyl is a slow-acting narcotic and withdrawal from Fentanyl can often be broken into three distinct phases. During the first phase, the body recognizes that there is no longer Fentanyl in the bloodstream and mild symptoms often begin to appear within twelve to thirty hours from the last dose of fentanyl. The first stage of withdrawal often lasts several days and presents symptoms of muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, insomnia, and agitation. However, the peak of withdrawal is not reached until the second stage, which typically begins three to five days from the last dose of Fentanyl.

During the second stage of withdrawal, physical symptoms of withdrawal will heighten in intensity. Often the second stage of withdrawal is characterized by vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, muscle and bone pain, and a runny nose. Due to the intensity of this second stage of withdrawal, it is common to present psychological symptoms as well, such as anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

The symptoms of withdrawal often begin to subside after five days as the brain relearns how to release neurotransmitters to the opioid receptors without interference by Fentanyl. The final stage that comprises the withdrawal timeline is when all withdrawal symptoms will begin to dissipate. This stage will often last one to two weeks, but psychological symptoms, such as drug cravings, may last longer. It is important to recognize and monitor these symptoms in order to take proactive measures to prevent relapse.

Steps You Can Take to Detox Safely

Withdrawal can be a challenging and daunting process, and detoxing the body from a Fentanyl dependency can pose serious health and psychological risks. When attempting to detox from a Fentanyl addiction, it is important to take the necessary steps to make sure that you can detox safely and give yourself the best chance possible of embarking on a lasting recovery.

The most important step you can take is to locate the right drug rehab center to help you safely detox. There are many treatment centers that specialize in Fentanyl detox that can help develop an individualized detox plan that is tailored to you and your addiction. It is important to verify that it is an accredited facility with qualified staff, a proven history of helping those suffering from Fentanyl addiction, and a detox strategy that is tailored to your addiction and circumstances.

Luminance Recovery is a drug treatment center that has helped many people overcome their painkiller addiction. When you first arrive at our treatment center you will sit down with your team of medical professionals to discuss your medical history, the dosage of Fentanyl you were taking, how long you have been taking Fentanyl, and preexisting medical and mental health conditions that will determine how to develop a detox strategy that meets your needs.

We are here with you at every step of the ways and we also develop an aftercare plan so that you can continue on the road to recovery even after you leave our treatment facility. Call us today to learn more about how we can help you overcome your addiction.


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