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Are Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms Dangerous?

Widely available, fentanyl abuse is rampant despite the dangers involved. Emergency rooms host incredibly high numbers of fentanyl cases. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,088 to 68,630 in 2020. Almost 60% of drug overdoses involve fentanyl. Treatment is available for this addiction. Understanding fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is crucial in seeking treatment.

Fentanyl and Substance Abuse

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain medication manufactured synthetically for severe pain medication. It is 50 times more potent than heroin and 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Fentanyl affects dopamine levels, which induce feelings of relaxed euphoria. Unfortunately, this benefit is often the root of the addiction. A strong tolerance is developed for those who take it, causing severe fentanyl withdrawal symptoms when the user stops using it.

Fentanyl use, even short-term, builds such a strong tolerance that the user may have to use the drug hourly to avoid the uncomfortable fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the dosage of medication being used and the duration of use. Opioid medications, including fentanyl, change the brain’s chemistry affecting the neurotransmitters or chemical messengers.

The Effects of Fentanyl Withdrawal

The same as any opioid medication, once usage is stopped, withdrawal symptoms can develop. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and painful. Individual cases are different, as they all depend upon the dosage of fentanyl and the duration of use. Symptoms can begin within hours of the last dosage and include any combination of the following symptoms.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation and sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Abdominal Cramping

The Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can begin mildly and then increase in intensity throughout the detox process. Generally, symptoms can start within six to 12 hours after the last fentanyl dose. After that, mild discomfort, including muscle aches, begin the process. Then, within 24 hours, the withdrawal symptoms increase in severity.

Agitation and anxiety follow with the detoxing patient finding themself unable to sleep. The fentanyl withdrawal symptoms continue in high intensity for at least 48 hours after the last dose.  Sweating, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea can be incredibly severe. In addition, muscle spasms are similar to those who experience Restless Legs Syndrome. However, within 72 hours, these symptoms will begin to subside.

Depending upon the method of ingestion of fentanyl, swallowing, injecting, snorting, or absorbing, the timeline of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is affected. In addition, how quickly the fentanyl is introduced into the bloodstream affects how long the withdrawal process will last. Therefore, medically monitored detox is crucial for the detoxification of fentanyl. Finally, there are some instances of medication-assisted detox when needed.

Why is Detox Important?

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are different for each individual. The timeline for withdrawal can last anywhere between four and twenty-one days. Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS, depends on many factors of the addiction. Not typically fatal, withdrawal from fentanyl is highly uncomfortable and challenging to experience alone or at home. Relapse could be possible if detox is attempted without medical supervision.

Medications that the Food and Drug Administration has approved can ease fentanyl withdrawal symptoms when severe. In addition, during the acute phase of detox, Lofexidine, a non-opioid pharmaceutical, and an NSS-2 Bridge device can make the patient more comfortable. The NSS-2 Bridge device is a small electrical nerve stimulation device that can be placed behind the ear. Other medications can be introduced to reduce fentanyl cravings, such as buprenorphine and methadone.

Medication-assisted detox can also shorten the length of the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms being experienced. In addition, the professional staff in a treatment center can educate and encourage the patient to continue with the detox process. This relationship is the foundation for building trust in recovery and a support system. Recovery treatment can begin once detox is completed.

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

After the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms subside, the patient is ready to begin treatment. Unfortunately, relapse is prevalent in fentanyl addiction, so it is vital to consider inpatient treatment to begin a recovery journey. A treatment plan for fentanyl addiction will include individual therapy and group therapy. Learning the critical positive and healthy coping mechanisms to replace drug use is vital for success.

Individual treatment will explore why the addiction began and recognize the triggers that may induce the temptation to use again. Group therapy supports the patient because of vulnerability and sharing of others’ experiences. Family support is crucial for maintaining sobriety. Once the inpatient program is completed, sober living arrangements might be viable. Long after the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are over, it is still important to remember the journey.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is widely used for the treatment of opioid addiction. This therapy helps the patient to make changes in thinking and behaviors. In addition, contingency management or motivational approaches can also be helpful in treatment. This approach rewards the individual for not using drugs and staying sober. Exploring mixed feelings about treatment, the end of the addiction, and lifestyle changes is essential.

Find Help for Fentanyl Addiction and the Withdrawal Symptoms in Detox in Georgia

Retreat of Atlanta practices medically assisted detox programs for fentanyl addiction. We can ease your mind concerning the difficulties you may anticipate from detox. The staff can use our proven methodologies in your recovery program. Treatment is a successful option for sobriety. Changing your life can be all it takes to move toward sobriety. Contact us today.

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