Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

Fentanyl is a highly potent prescription opioid that is used to treat severe pain. While this medication is available by prescription, there is a dangerous version of it circling the street referred to as illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF). IMF has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths in recent years, creating a new wave in the opioid epidemic.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there were 70,601 overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl in 2021.[1]

If you or a loved one frequently abuses fentanyl, you might be wondering what withdrawal is like. Fentanyl withdrawal can begin within 12 hours and last up to 2 weeks, requiring professional medical detox services.

What are the Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal?

The symptoms and intensity of fentanyl withdrawal can vary from person to person, depending on factors like the dose you regularly consume and how often. However, most people experience flu-like symptoms and psychological effects like depression or anxiety. Unfortunately, the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be incredibly difficult to cope with without medical intervention.

The common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:[2]

  • Flu-like symptoms such as runny nose, headaches, and fevers
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Gastrointestinal issues and stomach pain
  • Joint and bone pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate and changes in blood pressure
  • Respiratory issues
  • Symptoms of anxiety or depression

Because the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be hard to manage, people who attempt to detox on their own often relapse. Relapsing on fentanyl after a period of abstinence can be life-threatening and lead to overdoses, as many people attempt to take the same dose as when they had a tolerance.

The Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

The fentanyl withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person, depending on your history of substance abuse and the treatment services you take advantage of. For example, people receiving medical detox services might experience fewer symptoms for a shorter period. With that being said, fentanyl withdrawal usually begins within 12 hours and subsides after 2 weeks.

The general timeline for fentanyl withdrawal is as follows:

12 to 48 Hours

Sometime between 12 to 48 hours after your last dose of fentanyl, you will begin to experience symptoms. The severity of your fentanyl use disorder will impact how quickly your symptoms arise. Typically, early symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include insomnia, slight feelings of the flu, muscle aches, and loss of appetite.

2 to 4 Days

Between the 2nd and 4th day of fentanyl withdrawal, your symptoms will begin to peak, meaning they will be at their most severe. It is incredibly important that you are receiving medical detox services during this time, as relapse is common.

Peak symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, mood swings, body aches, changes in heart rate or blood pressure, and strong cravings for fentanyl.

5 to 14 Days

Between the 5th day and second week of fentanyl withdrawal, your symptoms will begin to subside. Most of the physical symptoms of withdrawal will be over, leaving you with some lasting psychological symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and depression.

It is possible to develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which causes persistent psychological symptoms of withdrawal for weeks or even months.[3] Thankfully, fentanyl detox programs can prescribe medications to help you cope with your symptoms.

How is Fentanyl Withdrawal Treated?

Even though fentanyl withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, it requires extensive detox services because of the risk of relapse. The first step in medical detox is an initial assessment to gather information about your physical and mental health as well as your fentanyl abuse history. Using this information, the medical staff will be able to create an individualized treatment plan based on your needs.

Once your treatment plan is created, you may be prescribed FDA-approved medications to limit your withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings. Typically, the tapering method is used, which means the dose of medication you receive will be slowly decreased until you no longer need it.

Medications approved by the FDA to treat fentanyl withdrawal include:[4]

  • Buprenorphine and naloxone (Suboxone)
  • Methadone
  • Lofexidine (Lucemyra)

In addition to medication, your physical and mental health will be monitored consistently to ensure you remain safe and comfortable. If any problems arise, they will be promptly treated by your medical team.

After you complete the detox process, you can transfer into a drug rehab program offering comprehensive individual therapy, group counseling, and relapse prevention planning.

Find an Outpatient Fentanyl Detox Center Near You Today

If you or a loved one suffers from fentanyl addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. The first step in overcoming any addiction is attending detox. At Cobb Behavioral Health, our safe and effective outpatient detox services allow you to recover in the comfort of your own home. We can help you navigate recovery and live the healthy lifestyle you deserve.

To learn more about our compassionate outpatient fentanyl detox program, please contact us today.

References:

  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug Overdose Death Rates, Retrieved November 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Fentanyl withdrawal: Understanding symptom severity and exploring the role of body mass index on withdrawal symptoms and clearance, Retrieved November 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9992259/
  3. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Medications for Opioid Overdose, Withdrawal, & Addiction, Retrieved November 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/opioids/medications-opioid-overdose-withdrawal-addiction-infographic

Ready to begin?

Take the first step toward recovery by speaking with one of our dedicated admissions counselors.

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We Accept All Major Insurance