Detoxing from Fentanyl: Timeline & Withdrawal Symptoms

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is commonly misused.1 Prolonged use of fentanyl can lead to physical dependence, which can lead to an individual experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it.1

This article will help you learn more about fentanyl withdrawal and answer the following questions:

  • What is the fentanyl withdrawal timeline like?
  • What are fentanyl withdrawal symptoms?
  • How do I detox from fentanyl safely?
  • Which medications are commonly used during fentanyl detox?

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?

Fentanyl withdrawal typically lasts between 7-10 days, although this can vary from person to person.2, 3

Some factors influence the fentanyl detox timeline, including:2

  • Whether you take extended-release fentanyl or use immediate-release or illicit fentanyl.
  • The length of time you have been using fentanyl.
  • The amount you use regularly.
  • The frequency of use.
  • The route of administration.
  • Your age.
  • If you have any other physical or mental health issues.
  • If you take any medications or use other substances.

Withdrawal symptoms can appear as early as 6 hours after taking the last dose of fentanyl and increase progressively until symptoms peak, approximately 1-3 days after the last dose.4

After this acute time frame, the symptoms will gradually improve until they go away after about 7-10 days.2, 3

What Are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl are much like that of other opioids since they belong to the same class of drugs. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable but aren’t likely to become life-threatening unless complications arise.2

Less intense withdrawal symptoms that last for weeks or months are known as protracted withdrawal.3, 4

Protracted withdrawal is highly variable, and symptoms can improve and worsen or even resolve and return. Not everyone experiences protracted withdrawal.3, 4

Typical symptoms associated with protracted withdrawal are:

  • Feelings of anxiety, depression, and irritability.
  • Difficulty or inability to enjoy activities.
  • Insomnia.
  • Shortened attention span.

How to Cope with Fentanyl Withdrawal Safely

The fentanyl withdrawal process can be very uncomfortable and involve very strong cravings, which can result in the risk of relapse.1, 2

Many individuals relapse in order to ease the uncomfortable withdrawal effects and intense cravings. Relapse can increase the likelihood of fatal overdose because your body now has a lower tolerance, meaning that it takes a lower dose of fentanyl to reach a high since fentanyl has not been in your system for some time.2

Attending a detox program in a hospital-based or rehab environment is the safest way to withdraw from fentanyl and other opioids. There you can receive medications to ease your withdrawal symptoms and reduce your cravings as well as monitoring and support to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible.

Medications Used to Detox from Opioids

When you attend a medically assisted detox, the doctor may prescribe medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms and make the process more comfortable and safer for you.2, 6

Your symptoms will be monitored to ensure your symptoms are adequately controlled and that any complications that may arise are treated promptly.2

The most commonly used medications during fentanyl detox are:1, 2, 6, 7

  • Methadone, a long-acting opioid agonist. It binds to opioid receptors in your brain and lessens or stops withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings.
  • Buprenorphine, a long-acting partial opioid agonist. It binds to opioid receptors in your brain, lessening or stopping withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings. Buprenorphine and naloxone (Suboxone) may be provided to prevent misuse, although you must not have any fentanyl in your system before starting buprenorphine or it can trigger withdrawal symptoms.
  • Clonidine, a blood pressure medication that has been used off-label to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms. It can reduce some of the symptoms but often requires other medications to treat additional symptoms such as insomnia, pain, and cravings.

Withdrawing from fentanyl may seem daunting, but it’s possible to detox and recover from fentanyl addiction. River Oaks is a cutting-edge treatment facility that provides all levels of care for addiction to fentanyl and other substances. For more information, contact our free helpline 24/7 at (866) 926-3541. Our knowledgeable support staff can answer any questions you may have.

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