Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate medication used to treat severe pain. Sold pharmaceutically in a patch (Duragesic) or lozenge form (Aqtic), the drug is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. Doctors typically prescribe this narcotic to treat pain associated with major surgeries or serious conditions such as advanced cancer. Fentanyl also is used in hospice care to keep a terminally ill patient comfortable before death. Because of its potency, fentanyl carries a high risk of abuse and addiction. People who abruptly stop taking fentanyl after prolonged use can experience painful symptoms known as fentanyl withdrawal.

Quitting Fentanyl Cold Turkey Is Not Recommended

Heavy fentanyl users may decide to stop using the drug all at once–known as going “cold turkey”–to break their addiction. However, quitting cold turkey without medical help can lead to painful and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Because fentanyl is an extremely powerful narcotic, users should seek help from a detox facility or drug rehab center to safety withdraw from the drug.

Fentanyl abuse is often deadly because the drug depresses respiratory functions. People typically die from an opiate overdose because they stop breathing. If you or a loved one experience trouble breathing or other serious symptoms, call 911 immediately or visit an emergency room or urgent care center immediately for medical attention. These symptoms are red flags that yours is a more urgent situation, and you must seek help now.

Fentanyl-Laced Heroin Blamed for Rise in Fatal Overdoses

Illegal fentanyl in powdered form also is mixed with street drugs, most commonly heroin. Fentanyl also has been found in illegal Xanax pills and cocaine. Drug dealers sometimes add fentanyl to their supply to sell more of their product. Many users inject fentanyl-laced heroin without realizing it, putting them at risk for overdose. Authorities say fentanyl is behind the steep rise in accidental overdose deaths in recent years.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the US with 55,403 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that on average 44 people die from opioid abuse daily in the US. More first responders across the country are carrying naloxone or Narcan–a drug used to restore breathing in people who have overdosed on opiates like heroin. However, when added to heroin, fentanyl can thwart these life-saving efforts. The drug’s extremely high potency makes naloxone less effective.

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Drug Treatment Center Finder’s database is filled with drug rehabs in all 50 states. Our free referral service helps you find a drug treatment center in your area. If you have questions on withdrawal detox and treatment, call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070, and one of our call agents will walk you through the addiction treatment process.


Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Fentanyl Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Because of its potency, fentanyl’s withdrawal symptoms can be more severe than that of other powerful opiate drugs such as heroin. Medical professionals recommend fentanyl users get medical help from a detox facility or drug rehab center to prevent any health complications or a return to use, known as a relapse. Whether a person uses fentanyl as a prescription medication or as an illegal street drug can affect the withdrawal process.

Common Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Can Include:

  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Running nose
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Stomach cramps
  • Sweating
  • Tearing up

Fentanyl Withdrawal Detox and Treatment

Treating Fentanyl Withdrawal

How to Safely Withdrawal from Fentanyl

Withdrawal treatment for fentanyl most often takes place in an inpatient setting in a detox facility or drug rehab center. Fentanyl detox treatment can be similar to that of other potent opiate drugs such as heroin. The key to safely withdrawing from fentanyl is a medically supervised tapering process. At a detox and drug rehab, medical professionals gradually reduce the dose to prevent painful withdrawal symptoms, such nausea and fever.

At a detox facility, clients can be given longer-acting opioids, such as Suboxone to ease withdrawal symptoms. The medications also can prevent cravings, but longer-acting nature of the drug does not result in a high.

Medications to Expect During Detox Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction:

  • Methadone Maintenance: Methadone is a long-acting synthetic opioid antagonist that is used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms in opioid addicts. Methadone is often used as a long-term alternative for those who have a history of opioid relapse.
  • Buprenorphine Maintenance: Buprenorphine is an opioid analgesic, meaning it affects the same receptors as heroin and opioids, but it doesn’t create the same high. This drug is most commonly used to treat opioid dependence and comes in the form of a single tablet or dissolvable film.
  • Naltrexone: Naltrexone is a once-a-day pill that blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioid drugs. The drug is also available in a once-monthly injectable form called vivitrol.
  • Suboxone: Suboxone is a drug that consists of a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, an opioid analgesic and antagonist. Similar to methadone, suboxone is a depressant used to limit cravings and withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin.

Continue Treatment after Detox

After detox, clients are encouraged to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program to prevent a return to use. Although most physical withdrawal symptoms subside after about a week, psychological symptoms, such as depression and cravings, can persist. Inpatient or outpatient drug treatment programs can help clients throughout what is known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).

Need Help Finding Treatment in Your Area? Drug Treatment Center Finder Can Help

Drug Treatment Center Finder has a database filled with drug rehabs in all 50 states. We can help you find a drug treatment center in your area. If you have questions on withdrawal detox and treatment, call our 24-hour hotline at (855) 619-8070, and one of our call agents will walk you through the addiction treatment process.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Frequently Asked Questions

Fentanyl Withdrawal Frequently Asked Questions
    • What is fentanyl?

      Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain. Doctors can prescribe the medication in lozenge, patch, or pill form. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin. The drug also is sold illegally in powder form and mixed with other illegal drugs such as heroin. A small amount can lead to overdose and death. Authorities say fentanyl is the cause of many overdose deaths among heroin users.


    • How long before fentanyl withdrawal starts?

      Fentanyl withdrawal starts a few hours after use has stopped. Like any other withdrawal process, the timeline and severity varies from person to person based off of the dosage used, the user’s own body chemistry, and the length of time the substance was abused.


    • What drugs are laced with fentanyl?

      Authorities have found fentanyl in several illegal drugs including heroin and cocaine. Because fentanyl is cheap to make, dealers add the drug to their supply to sell more product. Oftentimes, people do not know their drugs have been laced with fentanyl. In other cases, fentanyl’s potency can make the laced drugs more attractive to addicts in search of a greater high. However, people who abuse fentanyl-laced drugs have a high risk for overdose.


    • Is fentanyl deadly?

      Yes. Fentanyl has been linked to thousands of overdose deaths. Many users consume fentanyl-laced heroin thinking they are only using heroin. Many of these people accidentally overdose and die. Fentanyl can also thwart the effectiveness of naloxone or Narcan–a drug used to revive victims of opiate overdoses.


    • How do I know I’ve taken fentanyl?

      The only way to know if you has taken fentanyl is to seek medical help. If you need help finding a drug rehab in your area, Drug Treatment Center Finder can start you on your journey toward recovery. Call our 24-hour hotline at (855) 619-8070, and one of our call agents will be available to answer any questions you may have about fentanyl addiction and the right treatment methods to pursue.