In New Hampshire, Fentanyl is involved in 80% of overdoses. You may wonder, “If fentanyl use is so dangerous, why don’t people just quit?” Unfortunately, it is difficult and sometimes dangerous to end fentanyl use. Withdrawal symptoms, or symptoms that result from someone ending substance use, are challenging to overcome alone. However, with fentanyl rehab that utilizes evidence based therapies, a person seeking recovery can end their fentanyl use and drastically increase their quality of life.
Why Fentanyl Withdrawals Occur
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid. Opioids are substances that trigger your brain to release dopamine. This release creates a pleasurable feeling in the person using fentanyl or another opioid. Over time, a person’s brain stops producing these neurotransmitters without the presence of fentanyl. Therefore, a person will need to continue using fentanyl to feel normal.
Fentanyl withdrawals happen when a person has a physical dependence on fentanyl and they end their fentanyl use. During withdrawal a person will experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms, often compared to a severe case of the flu. It is a complex process, but individuals seeking recovery can overcome the withdrawal stage and achieve a substance-free life!
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms typically start a few hours after the last time a person uses fentanyl. The symptoms start mild, peak between 24-36 hours, and then taper off. Experiencing withdrawal at a detox facility is the safest and most comfortable way to overcome withdrawal symptoms.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
Common physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Excessive yawning
- Bone pain
- Muscle cramps
- Stomach cramps
Mental Withdrawal Symptoms
Common mental withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:
- Cravings for fentanyl
- Difficulty sleeping
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
Fentanyl withdrawal happens over a period of time. Generally, the period of withdrawal lasts for about a week. This timeline varies based on the individual.
What Factors Affect the Timeline
Some factors that affect the fentanyl withdrawal timeline are:
- Overall health
- Family history of substance use
- Duration of fentanyl use
- The amount of fentanyl generally taken
- Method of fentanyl use
The Stages of Fentanyl Withdrawal
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms usually start from 2-4 hours after the last time a person uses fentanyl. The early symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal are mild such as yawning, chills, and muscle pain. Many people will also feel anxious, and cravings for fentanyl use will begin.
Withdrawal symptoms will reach peak intensity at around 24 hours after last use and will typically last until 36 hours after last use. It is common for people to experience intensified versions of the early stage symptoms at this time. This is when a person may require medical care due to vomiting and the risk of dehydration.
After 36 hours, symptoms of withdrawal start to decrease and usually end entirely on day 7 or 8. However, it is not uncommon for lingering symptoms to continue past this point, though they are typically less severe. In some cases, mild symptoms can remain for weeks or months. This is called Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.
Cold Turkey vs Weaning
Quitting fentanyl use immediately without medical support is called quitting “cold turkey.” It is possible to quit cold turkey, but not recommended.
In a treatment facility, a person cannot give in to cravings to use fentanyl. Because withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, it is tempting to use fentanyl to end the symptoms of withdrawal. However, this will mean to seek recovery, you must start the process over.
You can be given medications in a treatment facility that will reduce cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. This will make you more comfortable and will make withdrawal easier to get through.
“By utilizing a medically supported detox you can be sure that the majority of your severe withdrawal symptoms are over before you are discharged. Often a medical facility can make sure you have a longer term recovery plan such as intensive outpatient, or inpatient addiction treatment lined up.”
Risks of Overdose
Overdose from fentanyl happens when someone consumes too much of the substance. When a person overdoses on fentanyl, it causes slowed breathing, decreased consciousness, unresponsiveness, and constricted pupils. Fentanyl lowers a person’s respiration, meaning they may eventually stop breathing.
If you suspect someone is overdosing on fentanyl, you should call 911 immediately. If Naloxone, also called Narcan, is available it should be administered immediately. Naloxone is a medication that can stop an opioid overdose. It will not harm someone who has not used fentanyl or another opioid. In New Hampshire, Naloxone is available at many pharmacies and through The Doorway NH at no cost. Finally, you should wait with the person experiencing an overdose and help them stay awake.
How Is Fentanyl Withdrawal Different From Other Opioids?
Fentanyl is more potent than other opioids. It is 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine. While opioids such as heroin share a similar withdrawal timeline as fentanyl, the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can be more intense than heroin withdrawal.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Medications
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications alongside therapeutic approaches to help a person find recovery. Medications used to treat opioid use disorders are safe and increase a person’s chances of recovery.
The medications used in MAT are naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone. These medications work by interacting with a person’s brain receptors in a way that prevents opioids from interacting with these receptors. Medications used in MAT prevent the euphoric effects of fentanyl and other opioids and curb withdrawal symptoms. These medications give a person in recovery relief from opioid withdrawal and cravings so they can direct their attention toward achieving their treatment goals.
Get Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawals
Withdrawal symptoms can make recovery from fentanyl use difficult, but you do not have to do it alone. At Addiction Recovery Services, we provide life-saving treatments for residents of New Hampshire. We can help you overcome withdrawal symptoms and offer treatments that will help you find long-term recovery.
Call us today at 978-228-5853 to learn more about how we can help you overcome fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and find recovery!
FAQs About Withdrawals From Fentanyl
How Long Do Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Usually Last?
Typically it takes around a week to go through the withdrawal stage of recovery from fentanyl use. However, this can vary due to factors such as your overall health and how long you have used fentanyl.
Is Fentanyl Withdrawal Fatal?
In rare cases, a person can die during fentanyl withdrawal. This happens because a person becomes dehydrated. The safest option is to withdraw in a treatment facility to reduce the temptation to return to fentanyl use, to be made more comfortable, and to be surrounded by staff who know what to do if your condition worsens.
What Do I Do if Someone is Overdosing on Fentanyl?
If you suspect that someone has overdosed on Fentanyl, you should start by calling 911. Then, if Naloxone is available, you should administer the medication. It will not hurt them if they have not used fentanyl, but it will likely save their life if they have. After that, you should wait with them until help arrives.