FENTANYL WITHDRAWAL: SYMPTOMS & DETOX TIMELINE

Symptoms and Timeline of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is incredibly addictive. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fentanyl is 100 times stronger than morphine, this drug can lead to a number of dangerous and severe withdrawal symptoms that will require a detox program.

Any use of this dangerous opioid raises the risk factors of the following:

  • Tolerance

  • Dependence

  • Drug Abuse

  • Addiction

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By: Renaissance Recovery

Clinically Reviewed by: Diana Vo, LMFT

Last Updated:

05/16/2023

Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawal

Like with other opiates, tolerance can easily develop while misusing fentanyl. This means you will need to take more to achieve the same effects. Tolerance builds rapidly.

Once someone is physically dependent, they will begin to experience symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal when the drug is no longer in their system. These issues typically start around 12 hours after the last use, lasting for a week or so.

Just like any opioid use disorder, the treatment for fentanyl depends on the severity of the problem. The same applies to withdrawal and detox.

an image of someone dealing with a fentanyl withdrawal

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Taking opioids long-term, even when taken as directed with a prescription, can cause problems. It can quickly cause your body to become desensitized to opioid’s pain-relieving and rewarding effects. Like all forms of substance abuse, tolerance quickly builds, requiring you to take larger doses of the drug to generate the same effects. This effectively increases a person’s risk of fentanyl overdose.

Sustained drug abuse triggers changes to the function of some nerve receptors in the brain. With your nerve receptors becoming dependent on synthetic opioids alone, this altered brain chemistry causes many dangerous symptoms when you stop using this drug, especially when trying to quit cold turkey.

Common Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are similar to other opioid withdrawals, and include a wide array of side effects. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Raised body temperature
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Racing heart
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain 

 

Along with these problems, psychological symptoms are another issue that people dealing with the fentanyl withdrawal struggle with. While opioid addiction is not typically associated with full-blown psychosis, some people undergoing opioid withdrawal from fentanyl abuse may experience withdrawal hallucinations.

Seek out a professional medical detox to prevent the occurrence of fentanyl psychosis and minimize other unpleasant side effects of withdrawal.

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How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?


If someone is being drug tested, there are a number of ways to detect fentanyl in the body. Whether you are taking a saliva test, urine test, blood test, or more, the amount of time that the opioid can be detected will change.

Overall though, the half-life of fentanyl is 3 to 7 hours. Because it normally takes about 5 half-lives for the drug to fully leave your system. So, you can expect the fentanyl to stay in your system for 35 hours. That said, this time can vary depending on several factors including how often it is used, if it is used with other substances, and many other individual factors.

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Fentanyl Detox

The drug detox process involves removing toxic substances and toxic metabolites safely from the system. 

During withdrawal, medical detox is normally performed in a licensed medical drug detox treatment center or substance abuse treatment center. Detox programs will help with withdrawal management. They can ensure that clients safely overcome the early stages of sobriety and the uncomfortable physical symptoms of withdrawal that come with it.

A medical detox can take place in a standalone capacity or as the precursor to inpatient rehab.

When receiving medical help for opioid use disorder or other substance abuse problems, medications through medication-assisted treatment can help during the withdrawal process according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Medication alleviates withdrawal symptoms, in fact, some medications can even reduce the cravings you will experience while detoxing.

However, it is worth noting that medications like Vivitrol can increase risk of overdose due to the reduced opioid tolerance that occurs.

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?

While fentanyl detox normally lasts for between 5 and 7 days. But, each case is different and some people find withdrawal occurs in more or less time. 

Fight Back Against Fentanyl

Get evidence-based treatment to overcome fentanyl addiction at Renaissance Recovery. Call our team now to learn more about the process.

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Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

During withdrawal, the first symptoms usually present from 8 to 36 hours after last fentanyl use. 

Once these problems start manifesting, withdrawal typically unfolds according to the following timeline.

Early Symptoms

Within just a few hours after the last use, the body can start to deal with minor symptoms. These include things like body aches and chills as well as general discomfort.

Along with these physical effects, it can also lead to some mental health conditions like an increased risk of anxiety and cravings.

Lasting Effects

Many of the effects and problems associated with fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be overcome during a fentanyl detox treatment program at a medical detox center. However, there can be some lingering problems from addiction to fentanyl such as long-term emotional problems, mood swings, and cravings to use. 

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?

If someone is being drug tested, there are a number of ways to detect fentanyl in the body. Whether you are taking a saliva test, urine test, blood test, or more, the amount of time that the opioid can be detected will change.

Overall though, the half-life of fentanyl is 3 to 7 hours. Because it normally takes about 5 half-lives for the drug to fully leave your system. So, you can expect the fentanyl to stay in your system for 35 hours. That said, this time can vary depending on several factors including how often it is used, if it is used with other substances, and many other individual factors.

 

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?


While fentanyl detox normally lasts for between 5 and 7 days. But, each case is different and some people find withdrawal occurs in more or less time. 

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Fentanyl Withdrawal Treatment

Undergoing fentanyl withdrawal treatment includes a medical detox as described in the above sections, often followed by an inpatient rehab, then outpatient programs like sober living. During withdrawal, treatments like Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) can be administered to lessen the impact of withdrawal symptoms and help mitigate any lingering cravings.

Fentanyl addiction treatment involves several levels of care as mentioned, and is not a black and white process. Addiction treatment helps to equip individuals with the tools and treatments they need to not only get sober, but stay sober as well, which can be the most difficult part of recovery.

Having a solid foundation to rely on during every step in the recovery process is often vital for those who remain in sobriety long-term. A treatment center like Renaissance Recovery provides full support and access to the right treatments every step of the addiction recovery process.

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How Long Does It Take to Detox From Fentanyl?

The first symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal present from 8 to 48 hours after the last dose. 

The onset of withdrawal is contingent on the frequency and quantity of dosages.

Fentanyl Detox Timeline

Although everyone detoxing from fentanyl has unique circumstances, most fentanyl detoxes follow a similar timeline that lasts about a week.  

Day 1 of Fentanyl Detox

During the first day of fentanyl withdrawal, you may experience any or all of the following:

  • Powerful cravings for fentanyl
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Muscular aches
  • Muscular pains
  • Headaches
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Appetite loss

Day 2 of Fentanyl Detox

The second day of fentanyl detox sees a continuation of the above withdrawal symptoms, as well as the following negative effects:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Upset stomach
  • Panic attacks

Day 3 of Fentanyl Detox

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will normally peak on the third day of detox. This applies to all short-acting opioids.

The most pressing symptoms during this acute phase of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

You can also expect the above symptoms to persist during the third day of fentanyl detox.

Day 4 of Fentanyl Detox

As the most acute phase of fentanyl withdrawal is complete, the following symptoms may linger:

  • Fatigue
  • GI disturbance
  • Cramps
  • Shivering
  • Enlarged pupils

Final Days of Fentanyl Detox

After a week of fentanyl detox, all withdrawal symptoms should start to subside. It may take longer for sleep patterns to normalize. It is also commonplace for fatigue to linger, as well as spells of depression.

In the event of PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), symptoms can persist for several months after discontinuing the use of fentanyl. The most common effects of PAWS are as follows:

  • Depressed mood
  • Strong cravings for opioids
  • Fatigue
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Irritability

Fentanyl Addiction & Opioid Withdrawal Treatment at Renaissance Recovery

Despite its strong abuse profile, fentanyl addiction typically responds favorably to an evidence-based combination of medications and psychotherapies. 

At Renaissance, we provide the following outpatient services and treatment options for substance use disorders: 

  • Outpatient program (OP)

  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP)

  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP)

  • Remote intensive outpatient program (virtual IOP

  • Medication assisted treatment (MAT)

We work with many health insurance programs to help keep treatment as affordable as possible and allow clients to focus on what matters: long-term recovery.

To start detoxing from fentanyl safely and as comfortably as possible, or to get help for another substance abuse problem, reach out to Renaissance Recovery for addiction treatment today.

Our Fentanyl Addiction Treatment Programs

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

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