Fentanyl Detox: Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment
Last Updated: November 2, 2023
While detoxing from fentanyl will differ by person, fentanyl detox under medical supervision can be safer and more effective than detoxing alone.
Fentanyl is a highly potent opioid, about 50–100 times stronger than morphine. It is available by prescription in several different formulations and doses but is also produced illegally in Mexico and mixed into many other street drugs. Therefore, it is possible to use fentanyl without knowing it.
Suddenly stopping fentanyl can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, a medically supervised fentanyl detox can be safer and more effective than detoxing alone.
Treating Fentanyl Withdrawal
Fentanyl changes the way the brain senses pain, and people who abuse fentanyl describe feelings of euphoria and relaxation. With long-term use, the brain adjusts to fentanyl and becomes dependent on it. Abruptly stopping fentanyl often leads to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
Early symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Muscle aches
- Increased tearing
- Runny nose
Late symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Dilated pupils
How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?
Fentanyl withdrawal can start as soon as 12 hours after your last dose, and the length of fentanyl withdrawal depends on how much fentanyl you take and for how long. This time also highly depends on how you ingest fentanyl (patches, lozenges, smoking, injecting, etc.). In general, fentanyl withdrawal can last from one to five days.
What Is Fentanyl Detox?
Fentanyl detox is the process of your body slowly removing the drug from its system. Under medical supervision, detox can be safer and more effective than detoxing alone. During medical detox, healthcare professionals continually monitor you for withdrawal and can often provide treatment as clinically indicated.
How Does Fentanyl Detox Work?
In a medical detox program, a team of healthcare professionals provides 24/7 support by monitoring for withdrawal or any of its complications. If symptoms or complications occur, your healthcare team can offer treatment. This makes the process as safe and comfortable as possible. You also receive counseling and therapy for whole-body care.
Some treatment options during fentanyl withdrawal include:
- Methadone is a less potent opioid that can help reduce fentanyl cravings and is often used long-term. Eventually, this medication is weaned off.
- Buprenorphine is another less potent opioid that can lessen medical detox length and be used long-term. Like methadone, buprenorphine doses commonly decrease over time until it is safe to stop.
- Clonidine, a prescription blood pressure medication, can be helpful for addiction by reducing anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose and cramping.
- Naltrexone can help prevent relapse.
How Long Does It Take To Detox From Fentanyl?
How long it takes to detox from fentanyl will differ by person. Some primary factors influencing the time and severity of detox are the amount and type of fentanyl used. For example, longer-acting fentanyl, like in patches, can take longer to detox from than shorter-acting fentanyl, like in injections or smoking. Likewise, the amount of fentanyl can dictate this — people who use more can have longer, more severe detox experiences than those who use less. In general, detox can take days or weeks.
Dangers of Detoxing From Fentanyl at Home
Fentanyl detox at home can result in severe withdrawal symptoms that can be so unbearable that many people return to fentanyl for relief. In addition to being a less effective setting for a detox than under medical supervision, there are several possible complications when detoxing at home.
For example, electrolyte disturbances are common during withdrawal. Many will experience vomiting or diarrhea, and without monitoring, these electrolyte disturbances can result in cardiac abnormalities, which can be dangerous. On the other hand, in a medical facility, healthcare professionals can readily anticipate and replace these electrolytes. Aspiration is another severe concern during fentanyl withdrawal and can happen when accidentally inhaling vomit. The aspirate can become infected, leading to pneumonia or other complications.
Finding a Detox Center for Fentanyl Withdrawal in New Jersey
If you or a loved one are struggling with fentanyl addiction, we can help. Medical detox can provide you with the support you need to quit fentanyl safely and effectively while minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal. The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper can provide safe and effective treatment at any stage of your recovery. We offer a full continuum of care from medical detox to inpatient and outpatient care.
Our Joint Commission-accredited facility is conveniently located in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Benefits of Fentanyl Detox at The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper
At The Recovery Village Cherry Hill at Cooper, we are well equipped to help you get and stay drug-free. We will help you remove fentanyl from your system while minimizing the discomfort of withdrawal under medical supervision at our facility. We can also help address co-occurring disorders and provide support to address these. Finally, we can help prevent relapse by guiding you through the most challenging parts of withdrawal, providing the education you need to understand your disease and connecting you with a continuum of care to continue your path toward a healthier life.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.