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What You Need to Know About Fentanyl Withdrawal

It is difficult to overcome fentanyl addiction without help because withdrawing from fentanyl can be distressing and even dangerous. At Detox Nashville, we offer effective fentanyl detoxification services for people struggling with synthetic opioid addiction of all severities.

While fentanyl detox is a critical component of every comprehensive recovery program, this level of care typically serves as an initial step toward long-term recovery. For this reason, we offer personalized aftercare planning services for each of our clients. Once physically stabilized, they transition into the next appropriate level of care. Contact us today to begin your journey of fentanyl addiction recovery.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a powerful and addictive synthetic opioid that is between 50 and 100 times more potent than morphine. In some cases, fentanyl is prescribed short-term to treat severe pain. This highly addictive and potent drug treats severe pain, specifically after surgery.  However, because fentanyl has such a high potential for misuse, it is rarely prescribed for longer than two weeks at a time. Even a small amount of fentanyl can lead to a life-threatening overdose.

Fentanyl is also manufactured illegally and combined with other chemical substances, which increases its potency and street value. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is responsible for the skyrocketing number of overdose-related deaths across the country.

Fentanyl is ingested in a variety of ways. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states, “When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch that is put on a person’s skin, or as lozenges that are sucked like cough drops. Synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.”

Other illegal drugs like heroin, cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine are frequently cut with fentanyl. This increases their potency and street value. People taking these drugs do not know they are laced with fentanyl, and they experience a life-threatening overdose as a result. A fentanyl overdose can be reversed with Narcan (naloxone, an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of overdose), but it must be treated immediately.

Fentanyl Misuse and Opioid Use Disorders

Fentanyl misuse can lead to an opioid use disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) includes a list of criteria a person must meet before receiving a diagnosis of opioid use disorder (OUD):

  • Uses fentanyl in greater amounts than intended for longer periods of time than intended
  • Repeatedly attempted to cut back on fentanyl use with limited or short-term success (they repeatedly return to the drug)
  • Spends a significant amount of time obtaining fentanyl, using fentanyl, and recovering from its effects
  • Experienced a range of physical and mental health problems directly related to fentanyl use
  • Increase in risk-taking behavior facilitated by fentanyl use
  • Gives up activities they previously enjoyed
  • Range of negative consequences directly linked to fentanyl use, including interpersonal relationships, financial issues, legal issues, and health issues
  • Develops a physical tolerance for fentanyl, meaning the person must use more of the drug in order to experience the desired effects 
  • Neglects personal responsibilities and obligations
  • Withdrawal symptoms occur when a person stops using fentanyl abruptly
  • Physical and psychological fentanyl cravings develop

Withdrawing From Fentanyl 

Withdrawing from fentanyl is rarely life-threatening, though some symptoms can result in health-related complications. For example, people undergoing fentanyl withdrawal are at risk of dehydration due to vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. If these symptoms cannot be remedied with over-the-counter medications, an individual might become dehydrated and require immediate medical attention. 

The complications associated with fentanyl withdrawal pose a significant risk to the individual undergoing detoxification. It is important to understand that even though the symptoms on their own might not pose an immediate risk, related complications can prove life-threatening. 

The safest way to undergo fentanyl withdrawal is under the close supervision of a team of licensed medical professionals. At our Nashville fentanyl detox center, a team of nurses, clinicians, and therapeutic professionals guide each client through a safe, pain-free fentanyl withdrawal. We treat physical and psychological symptoms as soon as they develop.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms 

Both the physical and psychological symptoms associated with fentanyl withdrawal can be severe. Most people describe fentanyl withdrawal symptoms as flu-like. Opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • A low-grade fever
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Excessive yawning
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Stomach cramping
  • Insomnia

Psychological symptoms of withdrawing from fentanyl include overwhelming drug cravings, anxiety, panic attacks, depressed mood, and suicidal ideation.

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?

The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal typically begin within 6 to 12 hours after the final dose. Initially, symptoms are mildly uncomfortable and include body aches, general feelings of physical discomfort, profuse sweating, and stomach cramping. Acute withdrawal begins 24 to 72 hours after the final dose. 

In some instances, individuals experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS, which occurs when symptoms of withdrawal linger long after fentanyl has cleared the system. This is a common occurrence among those who are undergoing withdrawal after long-term opioid use.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Treatment 

Most symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal resolve with a combination of rest, medical supervision, and over-the-counter medications. In moderate or severe cases of opioid dependence, medication-assisted treatment might be necessary. 

Because the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be psychological, and because many people who struggle with opioid dependence have co-occurring disorders, therapeutic treatment is often beneficial. At Detox Nashville we offer behavioral therapies and holistic modalities. We take a whole-person approach to opioid addiction recovery.

Begin Your Recovery Journey at Our Nashville Fentanyl Detox 

If you or someone you love has been struggling with fentanyl misuse or dependence, our Nashville fentanyl detox is an ideal first step on the road to long-term recovery. As soon as you call us, our admissions team will guide you through our simple and straightforward admissions process. The admissions process begins with a short pre-assessment. If you or someone you love has been struggling with fentanyl misuse or dependence, there is life-saving help available.

Contact us to learn more about our fentanyl detox in Nashville, or to begin your personal journey of healing today.

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