The decision to quit fentanyl is not an easy one. For many, leaving their substance use behind also means leaving behind a social circle, uprooting ingrained habits, and changing just about every aspect of their current life in pursuit of a healthier one. We believe the decision to quit and get help for a substance use disorder should always be celebrated and if you are just making that decision, we want you to know that we are so happy that you are here. We also believe that nobody should go into their recovery journey blind to the road that lies ahead.
Almost every recovery journey begins with a period of detox and withdrawal. By understanding the withdrawal process, what to expect, and how to handle it, we believe that people beginning their recovery journey can be more prepared for the journey to come, and that this preparedness sets them up for a better chance at success.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
Fentanyl withdrawal onsets fairly quickly. People report feeling the first signs of withdrawal within 12-30 hours of the last dose. When detoxing from fentanyl, withdrawal effects typically peak within the first week of quitting. That said, lingering mild withdrawal effects can last a month or more.
The timeline of fentanyl withdrawal is unique from person to person, and many factors play into how long the effects of fentanyl withdrawal last. How much and how long a person has been using, along with various biological factors, can affect the withdrawal timeline. Regardless, withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to potentially deadly, and going through withdrawal with professional help is the safest and most effective way to manage them.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
Many symptoms of varying severities can appear when going through fentanyl withdrawal. While many of the symptoms themselves are not deadly on their own, if left untreated or unsupervised, the symptoms like dehydration and fever can lead to major medical emergencies. This is why knowing the symptoms, how withdrawal might affect you, and being able to prepare for it is so important.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
- Muscle Aches
- Shaking & Tremors
- Pupil Constriction
Mental Withdrawal Symptoms
- Increased cravings
- Mood and Personality Changes
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The Stages of Fentanyl Withdrawal
When going through withdrawal, many people go through “stages'' or distinctive periods where symptoms peak, wane, and diminish. These stages can vary dramatically, but each being typically short-lived. We like to say that there are four stages.
Stage One: Symptoms Start
The symptoms of withdrawal begin during this stage. It can start anywhere from 12-30 hours after last taking fentanyl and can often begin with intense cravings, headaches, or sweating.
Stage Two: Symptoms Peak
During stage two, withdrawal symptoms are at their peak. This means that the most severe symptoms will appear. It is likely that you will feel the worst during this phase. This phase can last from 48hrs to a full week.
Stage Three: Symptoms Wane
Stage three is when withdrawal symptoms begin to wane and you begin to feel more like yourself again. You may still experience cravings, headaches, or other symptoms, but they will be less strong. This phase lasts from 4 days to a month, but the symptoms will decrease with time.
Stage Four: Lingering Effects
The withdrawal effects can linger for months after the drug is out of your system. These lingering effects are typically mild and easy to manage as they lessen over time.
Cold Turkey vs. Weaning
When quitting fentanyl, it is tempting to quit cold turkey. After all, if you are quitting, why not “really” quit. While this works for some people, quitting cold turkey only has a 10% success rate. This is likely because quitting cold turkey does not allow your body time to adjust to taking less fentanyl over time and therefore your cravings and withdrawal symptoms come on fast, strong, and are nearly unmanageable. This is why many treatment facilities and professionals suggest that people wean off of fentanyl.
When weaning off fentanyl, the goal is to take less fentanyl each time so that you are eventually taking none at all. This allows your body time to adjust to the smaller doses without producing a violent withdrawal reaction. While quitting cold turkey and weaning off are both valid methods, many professionals agree that weaning is safer and easier for the person quitting.
Why Fentanyl Withdrawals Occur
Fentanyl withdrawal is frustrating. You decide to quit using fentanyl and are suddenly punished by a slew of incredibly uncomfortable symptoms? It just doesn’t make sense!
Well, despite the unpleasantness of withdrawal, you must first understand that withdrawal is not a punishment. Your body going into withdrawal is its way of telling you that something is changing and that it is no longer getting something that it is used to. After having a substance use disorder for a while, your body gets used to the chemicals that the drugs cause it to release. These chemicals are often ones that your brain enjoys feeling, such as dopamine or serotonin. When the source of those feelings is reduced, the body begins to crave it and, as a result, tries to get you to take it by creating unpleasant symptoms to encourage you. This is withdrawal and why it happens.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Medications
Withdrawal does not have to be miserable though and you do not have to go through it alone. Many treatment facilities and practitioners now offer a range of medications that can help you handle the severe symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal while you wean off of the drug.
One of the most popular drugs used in fentanyl treatment is Suboxone. Suboxone dampens the effects of withdrawal while the drug leaves the person’s system and then that person can slowly titrate off of Suboxone. Medicated withdrawals often go hand in hand with weaning off fentanyl and are typically seen as the safest and most effective method of quitting fentanyl.
Get Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawals
Getting treatment for fentanyl use disorder is a huge step in the recovery process. Understanding the effects of fentanyl withdrawal on the body can help you prepare for the beginning of your recovery journey. We want to make that step as painless as possible. Here at Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we offer comprehensive fentanyl addiction treatment as well as a detox facility where you can detox safely under the care of our expert staff.
If you or a loved one are taking that first huge step in recovery and quitting fentanyl, we encourage you to reach out to our team here at Pinnacle Peak Recovery and learn more about how we can help you start your journey with the best chance at a successful recovery. Call us today at: 866-377-2875.
FAQs About Withdrawals From Fentanyl
Can you have withdrawal symptoms while on Suboxone?
While Suboxone is a great medication for weaning off fentanyl, you can feel withdrawal symptoms from Suboxone once you stop taking it.
Is fentanyl considered addictive?
Yes. Fentanyl is one of the most potent, addictive synthetic opioids on the market.
What are the side effects of fentanyl withdrawals?
The side effects of fentanyl withdrawals can range from headaches, nausea, and dehydration to vomiting, fever, and mood changes.