Fentanyl is an unbelievably powerful opioid that is added to heroin to increase its potency. According to the CDC, only about 3% of fatal overdoses in the U.S. are the result of heroin alone; most fatal heroin overdoses are actually caused by fentanyl that has been added by the manufacturer. Fentanyl is a controlled substance in the U.S., but it is also manufactured illegally and added to counterfeit pills using a pill press. Fentanyl patches can be worn or even smoked.
Fentanyl addiction is really terrifying; it causes people to nod out and become incoherent. The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal resemble symptoms of a nervous breakdown. It causes people to become violent and uncontrollable. If someone you love is dependent on fentanyl, this condition can be deadly. Perhaps the most frightening part of fentanyl addiction is that it causes people to truly believe they will die without it. It is important to recognize the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal in order to get people the fentanyl addiction rehab they need.
Two Ways to Discontinue Fentanyl Use
Quitting fentanyl or any drug cold turkey is dangerous and often unsuccessful. Your doctor may put you on a tapering schedule to gradually eliminate the opioid from your system. Doctors often put fentanyl users on another, less-potent opioid, such as methadone. The idea is to keep some opioids in the system to lower the severity of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.
Medical professionals reduce the dosage of the opioid by 20%-50% each day. Eventually, this will reduce to nothing. This is done until your body starts adjusting to an absence of the opioid and withdrawal symptoms are manageable.
Your doctor will design the tapering schedule based on factors such as the:
- Level of dependency
- Presence or absence of co-occurring disorders
- Duration of dependency
- Existence of polysubstance abuse
What to Expect in Detox
Detox, followed by substance abuse treatment, is the ideal route for treatment that most likely leads to long-lasting recovery. In detox, an individual must overcome withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Excessive shaking, sweating, and chills
- Extreme anxiety
During this time, your body will crave the drug. It’s best that you gradually cleanse your body of fentanyl under the supervision of doctors at a detox facility. Fentanyl withdrawal is a critical first stage that sets the momentum for sobriety. After detox, addiction treatment programs can start to maximize the chances of sustained recovery and relapse prevention.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
Although withdrawal manifests differently in different users, the following experiences generally hold true for all:
- Your withdrawal symptoms may start 12 to 30 hours after the last dose.
- If you used a fentanyl patch (a long-acting medication), withdrawal could begin within 24 hours of removing the patch.
- The early signs of withdrawal that you can expect include muscle aches, anxiety, and sleeplessness.
- Your symptoms will peak two to four days after the last dosage. You will experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal discomfort.
- The physical symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal will cease after a week. Then, you will enter the post-acute withdrawal stage marked by psychological withdrawal symptoms.
- The second withdrawal stage usually lasts a few months and up to two years. Its symptoms include disturbed sleep, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
You’re at risk of relapse during post-acute fentanyl withdrawal. The self-care lessons you learn from our master therapists will help you manage cravings and stick to your recovery journey. We also offer a post-rehab aftercare plan that assists you in your ongoing efforts to stay sober. Personalized to your unique requirements, rehab aftercare is particularly important if you will be returning to a stressful living environment.
What Is a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program?
A medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program consists of using medications, typically combined with behavioral therapies and counseling, to provide a patient with comprehensive care. MAT can be essential during the treatment of a patient’s substance use disorder.
Medications used in MAT should be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). MAT programs should also be tailored and clinically driven to meet a patient’s specific needs. The combination of medication and therapy can help a patient sustain sobriety and focus on recovery. MAT can also be used to prevent or reduce the effects of some types of overdoses. MAT is primarily used for the treatment of opioid addiction and to help people avoid overdosing. Opioids include fentanyl, heroin, and opiate-based prescription pain relievers.
Avoid the Risk of Fentanyl Overdose
Accidental fentanyl overdose from mixing the drug with cocaine, alcohol, and methamphetamines is increasingly common among young adults. Although Naloxone can reverse a fentanyl overdose, it’s not reliable enough to bet your life on.
Don’t put your life in jeopardy. Get in touch with Crestview Recovery at 866.262.0531 to receive a customized treatment plan combining addiction therapy services such as:
- Group therapy
- Life skills rehab
- Trauma therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Mindfulness meditation therapy
We look forward to helping you move forward with recovery to create a new life.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.