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Fentanyl Withdrawals

It’s been 12 hours since you have been able to get a dose of fentanyl, and your body is letting you know. Sweat beads on your forehead as another wave of nausea sinks in. The stomach cramps are unbearable, and you can’t seem to leave the bathroom. How are you supposed to make it at work today? You have called your guy repeatedly, but he won’t answer. If you can’t get a dose of fentanyl quickly, there is no way you can make it into work. But you don’t have any sick days left, and you can’t lose your job. Can you manage the withdrawals and make it through?

fentanyl withdrawals

It’s been 12 hours since you have been able to get a dose of fentanyl, and your body is letting you know. Sweat beads on your forehead as another wave of nausea sinks in. The stomach cramps are unbearable, and you can’t seem to leave the bathroom. How are you supposed to make it at work today? You have called your guy repeatedly, but he won’t answer. If you can’t get a dose of fentanyl quickly, there is no way you can make it into work. But you don’t have any sick days left, and you can’t lose your job. Can you manage the withdrawals and make it through?

Between January and June of 2022, 252 deaths were caused by fentanyl in Tampa. Clean Recovery Centers has been at the forefront of this crisis, providing education through our blogs about substances like fentanyl. Our unique, three-phase approach to addiction treatment can be adjusted for a mental health diagnosis and to fit the individual needs of our clients. In today’s blog, we will be discussing fentanyl withdrawal, and how to safely stop fentanyl use.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

What is fentanyl? An opioid 50 times stronger than heroin, fentanyl is a synthetic substance that has been taking the media by storm. It works in the brain by binding to opioid receptors, creating a rush of relaxation. This rush is often followed by drowsiness and headaches, and sometimes the person may nod in and out of consciousness. As the body gets used to having fentanyl in the system, it will take more of the substance to achieve the same effects.

Just as the body gets used to having fentanyl, it recognizes when it is not present. The brain will attempt to restore balance, which triggers withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can begin in as little as 6-8 hours since the last dose of fentanyl, and can last a week or longer. Typically, they peak around days 2 or 3.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl can range in severity, and not everyone will experience them the same. Some common symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Muscle aches
  • Yawning
  • Sneezing
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

What Factors Affect the Timeline of Fentanyl Withdrawal?

One of the main factors that affect the withdrawal timeline is the length of use. The longer a person has been using fentanyl, the quicker withdrawal symptoms will appear. Malnourishment can affect the withdrawal timeline as well. The person’s immune system is already weakened, and malnourishment adds to that weakness. This makes it more difficult to heal from minor injuries and can make withdrawal symptoms more severe.

The Stages of Fentanyl Withdrawal

In the early stage of fentanyl withdrawal, symptoms are just beginning to appear. This starts around 6 hours after the last use and continues for around 24 hours after. Yawning, runny nose and eyes, and aches and pains are common during this stage. It may feel like you are catching a cold or flu.

As you enter the 24-hour mark, symptoms become more severe and often peak. Cravings will intensify to get the pain to stop. Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, bone pain, and muscle cramps are often present during this time. This stage ends around 36 to 48 hours after the last use.

After 48 hours, withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside. However, cravings can still be strong during this stage. Some people may still experience residual symptoms for 7 to 12 days after the last use, but they are much more tolerable. If you are not going through withdrawal in a facility, you may want to think about finding support groups and possibly entering a treatment program.

Cold Turkey vs. Weaning

coping with fentanyl withdrawal effectsCold turkey refers to stopping the use of a substance all at once, no matter the amount you were taking. It got its name from the chills and cold sweats that occur in the beginning stage of withdrawal. While some people have successfully utilized this method at home, it is not recommended. The body will enter withdrawal abruptly, and the symptoms can feel intense, increasing anxiety and mood swings. This can lead to thoughts of self-harm, suicide, or harming others. If these thoughts ever occur, seek medical attention immediately.

Weaning off of a substance refers to gradually reducing the amount you take over a period of time. This method is often used under a doctor’s orders and can lessen the severity of withdrawal. It is not recommended to wean off of fentanyl by yourself, as knowing when to change the dose and how much each dose should be is not regulated. Cravings can also make it difficult to use a lesser amount.

Why Fentanyl Withdrawals Occur

Fentanyl withdrawals occur because the body is signaling a need for it. The brain adjusts chemical receptors to account for fentanyl use, and once the brain learns to expect fentanyl, not having it sends everything into overdrive. Receptors that have been muted by fentanyl are released again, causing the symptoms of withdrawal to appear. It takes time for the brain and body to find balance again, which is why withdrawal can last for days.

Risks of Overdose

While anytime fentanyl is used there is a risk of an overdose, one of the most common situations for overdose is returning to use. A fentanyl overdose occurs when the body is overwhelmed by the amount taken. This slows the central nervous system, causing breathing to slow and sometimes stop altogether. When someone has already gone through the withdrawal process, their body no longer has a tolerance for fentanyl. If a return to use occurs, they typically go back to the same amount they were taking before. The body is no longer accustomed to this dose, and the risk of overdose increases.

How Is Fentanyl Withdrawal Different From Other Opioid Withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawals are relatively similar as they all have the same properties. However, fentanyl withdrawal may be more severe than heroin or other opioid withdrawal due to its potency. The symptoms may also last longer and cravings can be more intense.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical withdrawal symptoms are typically not life-threatening, but they can be painful. They include sneezing, watery eyes, joint pain, abdominal cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches. Dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea can pose a health risk, and if the person is unable to keep fluids in then it is time to seek medical attention.

Mental Withdrawal Symptoms

The mental symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be just as difficult as the physical ones. Increased anxiety, irritability, and depression can lead to impaired thinking. These thoughts and feelings can seem uncontrollable, and if thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or harming others occur, it is time to seek help. Having support from family and friends is crucial while managing withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Medications

Not everyone will need medication for fentanyl withdrawal, and in a detox setting, an assessment will help determine that. Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone can help manage withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings. These medications are FDA-approved and will be given only under a doctor’s orders. Some people may go into a medication-assisted program after finishing detox.

Get Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawals in Tampa, FL

Fentanyl withdrawal is one of the main reasons people do not seek treatment. The pain and discomfort are too much, but finding treatment can be the light at the end of the tunnel. In fentanyl addiction treatment, the detox process will be medically monitored and therapists will be available for emotional distress. The goal is always your comfort, and once detox is complete, you will be ready to attend skill-building and coping skills classes. The joy of rediscovering your passions and relearning yourself will be far more rewarding than fentanyl ever was.

If you or someone you love is balancing fentanyl use to avoid withdrawal, the cycle can end today. Clean Recovery Centers has a full program including detox, residential treatment, and a mental health path. All of our facilities have certified housing accommodations, so you will never have to worry about where you will be staying. Our dedicated staff is here to keep you comfortable and help you find your recovery in a safe space. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our treatment options.

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