Fentanyl detox is critical in quitting fentanyl use after becoming dependent on this drug. With the opioid epidemic still plaguing the US, entering a detox program after fentanyl addiction can be a life-saving measure for many addicts. Although opioid addictions can seem impossible to fight, full recovery is possible with the safe medical detoxing of fentanyl.
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Fentanyl Detox Overview
Fentanyl detox helps drug users safely stop abusing fentanyl by managing cravings and managing dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Detox occurs under medical supervision and is typically the first step in fentanyl addiction treatment.
Thankfully, a handful of medications have been approved to treat opioid use disorder, increasing the treatment options available to fentanyl users. By using certain medications and monitoring and treating common withdrawal symptoms, fentanyl detox can save lives and lead to successful recovery.
Why Do You Need to Detox From Fentanyl?
Powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl are incredibly difficult to quit, even if the addict wants to stop using fentanyl. Detoxing from fentanyl is necessary because withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening if untreated, and relapse is common when the user cannot withstand withdrawal.
By detoxing under medical supervision, patients with physical dependence on fentanyl will feel safe and comfortable while receiving treatment for any withdrawal symptoms they experience.
Is It Safe to Detox From Fentanyl at Home?
Detoxing from fentanyl abuse at home isn’t safe. Aside from the risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, the risk of relapse is high when detoxing from fentanyl alone.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more powerful than heroin.
NIDA also reported fentanyl overdoses accounted for 67,325 deaths in 2021. An addict relapsing may become desperate and use illegal fentanyl, leading to an accidental overdose.
Fentanyl Detox Timeline
For people with opioid dependence on fentanyl, withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as 12 to 30 hours after your last dose. Once the patient enters detoxification, the physician will slowly wean them off fentanyl.
During detox, patients may be prescribed FDA-approved medications for fentanyl withdrawal and cravings. While these medications can lessen opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, the worst of withdrawal lasts between 1 and 3 days, subsiding over the course of one week.
After detoxification, some patients may still experience post-acute symptoms for a few weeks or months after their last use.
Post-acute withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Inability to feel pleasure (anhedonia)
- Sleep problems
Fentanyl Detox Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioid withdrawal symptoms for fentanyl are similar to the flu-like symptoms common with withdrawal from other opioids.
The severity of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will depend on several factors, such as age, background, dose, frequency, and co-occurring mental health conditions.
The most common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:
- Chills and goosebumps
- Runny nose and watery eyes
- Muscle or joint aches
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Dysphoric mood, or feelings of sadness or irritability
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping
Treatment During Fentanyl Detox
Medical detox centers offer a wide range of services to ensure your health and well-being throughout the process. Trained medical professionals will monitor the patient and provide care to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms.
Fentanyl detox can occur during inpatient rehab or a partial hospitalization program (PHP), but standalone centers are also available.
Detox is usually the first step in recovery from fentanyl use and ensures the patient is comfortable and safe while the drug leaves the patient’s system. After medical detox is completed, one-on-one therapy and group therapy typically follow.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) includes medications that are FDA-approved or commonly used off-label to help treat withdrawal symptoms, especially for opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder.
In the case of fentanyl, MAT can help treat severe or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms and curb intense cravings.
FDA-approved medications for fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:
- Methadone: Eases withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings
- Buprenorphine: Eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings
- Suboxone: A mixture of buprenorphine and naloxone, eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings
- Naltrexone: Prevents fentanyl from attaching to opioid receptors, thus blocking its effects
Sometimes, healthcare providers may also prescribe Narcan (naloxone) if there is concern about relapse. Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose quickly, allowing enough time for more serious medical intervention.
Fluids and Supplements
Fentanyl withdrawal often leads to symptoms that cause potentially dangerous dehydration, like sweating and diarrhea. Fentanyl addicts also tend to have calcium and magnesium deficiencies.
Patients can avoid dehydration and combat body aches and muscle pain by administering IV fluids and taking certain supplements.
Supplements you may receive during fentanyl detox include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
Follow-Up Fentanyl Addiction Treatment
After receiving critical medical care and support during detox, many individuals will continue their recovery by attending rehab, therapy, support groups, or other programs.
After medically detoxing off fentanyl, many patients may opt to join an addiction treatment program. Attending a treatment program is highly recommended for individuals with a substance use disorder, but it can also benefit anyone who abused fentanyl.
Inpatient rehab programs offer therapy and additional medical care in a stable, supportive environment, while outpatient programs tend to provide similar therapies but with a lesser time commitment.
Depending on the level of care needed, your doctor or addiction counselor can help you select the type of rehab that best fits your overall treatment plan.
Therapy is a key step in fentanyl addiction treatment. Rehab programs will offer both one-on-one therapy and group therapy options. Many patients will continue to attend therapy after completing their rehab program.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common therapy for addiction, as it helps patients identify the negative thought patterns that caused them to seek out drugs in the first place.
Other Tools and Treatments
In addition to therapy, some patients succeed with Naltrexone, a medication that prevents relapse by blocking the euphoric effects of fentanyl. Naltrexone is a safe and essential tool for long-term recovery from opioid use disorder.
Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery can also help tremendously after treatment ends. These groups help recovering fentanyl addicts connect with fellow addicts in recovery and receive peer support after treatment.
Get Help With Fentanyl Detox
If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl addiction and withdrawal symptoms are holding you back, medical detox can help you recover.
By enrolling in fentanyl detox at a treatment center, you can have peace of mind and be safe and comfortable during the fentanyl detox process. You can find the right addiction treatment center for your needs by using SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or by calling (800) 662-4357.
Fentanyl Detox FAQs
Can you die from fentanyl withdrawal?
Yes. Dehydration is a serious risk for addicts experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl. Enrolling in a medical detox program can ensure you remain safe and comfortable.
How long do fentanyl withdrawals last?
Fentanyl withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on dose, frequency, and co-occurring health conditions. Usually, the first 2 or 3 days are the worst withdrawal symptom-wise.
How much does fentanyl detox cost?
Treatment price at a fentanyl detox facility will depend on several factors, such as the type of treatment center, the services needed, whether you have health insurance, and if that insurance covers detox services.
What are the most common fentanyl detox symptoms?
Fentanyl detox ensures that your experience is comfortable and safe. However, while certain treatments and medications can lessen the severity, many patients will still experience symptoms even while in detox, such as:
- Fever and chills
- Runny nose and watery eyes
- Severe pain in muscles and joints
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping