How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System

You’ve woken up in a hospital for the third time this week. The attending doctor informs you that he has saved your life after you overdosed on fentanyl. He wants you to consider treatment but can’t make you stay if you don’t want to. You check yourself out of the hospital, but his words stick with you. You want to stop using, but you don’t know how. Any attempts you have made have only ended in you using it again. You wonder, if you did stop using, how long would fentanyl stay in your system?

The Arizona Department of Health and Services keeps a weekly account of how many people have overdosed on opioids like fentanyl. As of June 29, 2023, 1,894 Arizonians have had non-fatal overdoses, and 621 have died from opioids. 

It is difficult to leave fentanyl behind, especially if you fear it will always be a part of you. But fear not because recovery is possible, and eventually, it will be undetectable. At Pinnacle Peak Recovery, we strive to make this difficult process easier for you so that you can achieve recovery.  

Fentanyl’s Lifespan in Your Body 

Various things can cause fentanyl to stay in your system. Most drugs can be detected 2-4 days after use, but this depends on several factors. For example, if you recently took a higher dose of fentanyl than someone who took a smaller dose of fentanyl, a drug test would be able to detect fentanyl in your body for a longer period. Likewise, if you consume fentanyl more often than someone else, fentanyl will be in your body longer. Chronic use of substances might stay in the system for 3 months based on testing done with strands of hair. NIH says this is because substances accumulate in the body with continued use. 

Fentanyl’s Half-Life

A half-life is the time it takes for a substance, such as fentanyl, to reach half its initial dosage. Essentially, it is when your body has eliminated half of the substance you took. Fentanyl has a half-life of 3-7 hours. This half-life assumes that no other substances were taken after the initial dosage. Some factors contribute to when that half-life takes place. For example, someone 75 years old will reach the half-life point later than someone 45 years old, and the 45 year old will have a later point than someone 25 years old. This is because as we age, our metabolism begins to slow down, which means that the same dosage will take longer to process through the body. Also, if you add more dosages to your body, it will take longer for your body to eliminate the substance. The substance will have 4-5 half-lives before the substance is no longer detectable.

The Forms of Fentanyl 

They can take the following appearances:

  • Pills that resemble prescription opioids
  • Nasal sprays
  • Dropped on paper
  • Small candies
  • Eye drops

Fentanyl can also be found mixed in with other substances such as heroin or cocaine. It is often used to cut the cost of the other substance while also allowing them to remain the same or become more potent. The combination of these substances is dangerous. This is because substances are made up of chemicals that become unpredictable when they are mixed together. While the substance of choice might create certain effects on its own, adding fentanyl to it can increase your chances of overdose. 

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Detection of Fentanyl 

A drug test will determine whether or not you have fentanyl in your system.. These tests  are often used by employers or police officers to determine whether or not someone has illicit substances in their system. In Arizona, employers have the right to maintain a drug-free workplace and conduct drug tests whenever they see fit. Drug testing is also used for athletes to ensure they aren’t taking drugs that could give them an advantage. They can also be used as evidence in a legal case such as a car accident investigation and by a doctor to see if you are misusing a prescription they prescribed. 

The main way to detect if fentanyl is in your body is through drug tests. These tests can be done with saliva, blood, hair, and urine. A sample is often collected and sent to a lab where several substances, including fentanyl, are tested. These methods have different lengths of time when fentanyl can be detected. 

Fentanyl in Urine

It takes approximately 2 hours before a substance will appear on a urine drug test. Factors such as pH and fluid intake can impact how long it will take for a substance to be detected on a drug test from initial consumption. It can be detected for approximately 4 days. Urine tests are the most common form of drug testing for fentanyl. This is because they are easy to conduct and non-invasive. However, they have a higher chance of being tampered with. 

Fentanyl in Hair

Hair testing has a longer window of detection than other methods of fentanyl testing. Hair from the scalp can be detected for 3 months. The results from testing hair for fentanyl depend on the characteristics of the individual’s hair, such as length. Approximately 1 inch of hair equals 1 month of detection. Hair collection is not considered a biohazard, and it is less invasive. However, it often costs more to conduct a hair test, and hair availability can make hair tests less likely to occur. 

Fentanyl in Blood 

Testing for fentanyl in the blood is often considered more invasive and a biohazard. This makes them a lesser-used form of drug testing even though it provides a more precise analysis. They require someone who can draw blood. Fentanyl can be detected in the blood for 1 to 2 days.

The Side Effects of Fentanyl

Developing a fentanyl use disorder differs for everyone. Factors that impact how you got a fentanyl use disorder includes your surroundings, family, friends, and less likely DNA.. Some people never develop one, and others might develop one after a few times of trying fentanyl. Signs of a fentanyl addiction include:

  • Cravings
  • Thoughts of fentanyl
  • Shaking
  • Weight loss
  • Irregular heartbeat

Alongside a fentanyl use disorder comes side effects of taking fentanyl. You might have an unstable mood that is accompanied by drowsiness. You might also experience euphoria when taking fentanyl but not want to eat anything. Not everyone will experience the same side effects when taking fentanyl.

Warning Signs of a Fentanyl Overdose

Taking as low as 2 milligrams of fentanyl can result in an overdose. Some signs of overdose to keep an eye out for in those that you love include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Smaller pupils
  • Confusion

If you encounter someone who has overdosed, administer naloxone, also known as Narcan, as soon as possible. In Arizona, you can receive naloxone from a pharmacist at any pharmacy without a prescription. In Arizona, naloxone comes in three forms: a syringe (which is administered in the thigh or upper arm), nasal spray (which is sprayed in the nose), and an auto-injector form (which is a needle device that is administered on the thigh and has a voice recording that gives you steps.)

The Good Samaritan Law in Arizona allows people to seek medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose without being prosecuted. It also protects the person experiencing an overdose from being charged based on evidence related to the overdose and medical attention. 

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Treatment for Fentanyl Use Disorder in Scottsdale

One of the first steps in recovering from fentanyl use disorder is detox. During the process of detox, fentanyl will make its way out of your body, and you will experience symptoms of withdrawal. While it might seem scary, understand that this is just your body’s way of processing the change it is experiencing. It has become dependent on fentanyl. Remember that this process is important because it is your body’s way of removing fentanyl from your system.

These symptoms begin within 12-30 hours of your last dose and depend on how much and how long fentanyl was taken. Some symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Shaking
  • Increased cravings
  • Agitation
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety

As you go through withdrawal, most people often experience these four stages: symptoms starting, symptoms peaking, symptoms waning, and symptoms lingering. They typically peak in 2-3 days and wane a week or two later. Those few weeks might feel like the longest of your life, but they will not last forever. 

Evidence-based treatment, such as combining detox with dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is known to have higher success rates since you learn skills and healthy behaviors that will allow you to deal with stressful situations as they come up in your life. DBT will help you learn mindful skills, while CBT will help you change your thought patterns to ones more effective for your recovery.

At Pinnacle Peak Recovery in Scottsdale, AZ, our team provides you with a home-like environment that is with you throughout your entire recovery, from the detox process to outpatient programs. We will guide you through your best chance at a successful fentanyl use disorder recovery.  For more information, call us at 866-377-4761.

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Where does fentanyl come from? 

There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical and illicitly manufactured. Both types are made in labs. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is prescribed by doctors for pain following surgery, but illicitly manufactured is the one most commonly found on the streets. In Arizona, illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be traced to coming from being smuggled from Mexico.   

What is fentanyl used for?

When prescribed by doctors, fentanyl is used for pain management and late-stage cancer. However, when used illicitly, it is used alone or by mixing with other substances like heroin. When mixed with other substances, its purpose is to make the substance cheaper and stronger. It might be found in candies, eye drops, or nasal sprays. 

How long is fentanyl detectable in the body?

How long fentanyl is detectable in the body depends on what is being tested. If you receive a standard urine test, fentanyl can be detectable for 4 days. If you receive a blood test, fentanyl can be detectable for 1-2 days. However, if you receive a hair test, fentanyl is detectable for three months. 

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