Fentanyl Detox

Fentanyl addiction is reaching epidemic levels in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, there were nearly 60,000 opioid related deaths in 2019 and 2020

Detox Programs

Fentanyl Detox

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Detoxing from fentanyl is the first step on the path to recovering from fentanyl addiction. Successfully recovering from fentanyl abuse can be extremely difficult due to its potency.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 30 to 50 times stronger than heroin. This high potency can make habit forming and highly addictive.

According to the CDC, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are the leading cause of accidental overdose deaths in the U.S.

Signs of Fentanyl Abuse and Addiction

When some abuse opioids such as fentanyl, the signs of abuse may range depending on the severity of the issue. More severe fentanyl addictions will result in more obvious symptoms.

Each person will experience the effects of fentanyl abuse differently, but some common signs include:

Psychological symptoms: 

  • depressive mood 
  • extremely loving, then suddenly lethargic 
  • mood swings and irritability 

Physical symptoms:

  • constricted “pinpoint” pupils
  • drowsiness
  • nausea
  • confusion
  • constipation
  • sedation
  • problems breathing
  • unconsciousness

Fentanyl Overdose

It’s very likely for someone to overdose on fentanyl. Someone without tolerance to opioids can experience an overdose with as little as two milligrams of fentanyl. When an overdose occurs, people lose the ability to breathe and greatly decrease the amount of oxygen to the brain, which may lead to permanent brain damage and potentially death.

Different Forms of Fentanyl

There are a few different forms of fentanyl: pharmaceutical and illicit versions. Most pharmaceutical fentanyl comes in a patch form and is used to help combat late-stage cancer pain. Illicit forms of fentanyl can be in forms such as powder, pills, or oils.

Fentanyl is commonly combined with other drugs such as heroin and meth because it is tasteless, odorless, and virtually impossible to detect.

Fentanyl Detox: What to Expect

When someone is ready to detox from fentanyl, they should be prepared to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, followed by an individualized detox treatment program.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms from fentanyl can appear in as little as three or four hours after your last fentanyl consumption. The initial withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl are known as acute withdrawal symptoms. These are usually followed by late-stage detox symptoms.

Acute fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:

  • anxiety and depression
  • irritability and agitation
  • muscle aches
  • watery eyes
  • trouble sleeping
  • excess sweating
  • yawning even when not tired
  • runny nose

Late-stage symptoms can include:

  • cramps in the lower abdomen
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • nausea and vomiting

MAT Medications for Fentanyl Addiction

Medication-assisted treatment medications are used to help people with fentanyl use disorders quit the drug for good. MAT medications include:

  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex)
  • Methadone
  • Extended-release naltrexone (Vivitrol)

Medications like these are combined with behavioral counseling for a holistic, whole-patient treatment approach.

Behavioral Therapy and Fentanyl Detox Programs

Counseling on the individual and group level is a vital part of recovering from fentanyl abuse. Once someone has dealt with the immediate physical withdrawal, they will be left in the emotional aftermath of detox.

Behavioral therapy in combination with MAT medication is a proven effective way to treat opioid use disorders. Common therapies include:

  • contingency management 
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)

Fentanyl Detox Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Can I Detox from Fentanyl Alone?
A: It’s extremely unsafe to detox from fentanyl alone. When someone stops taking fentanyl, it can cause a spike in blood pressure and increase their heart rate. These sudden changes may result in a heart attack or stroke.

To safely detox from fentanyl, a medical detox program is recommended.

Q: How Do I Reverse a Fentanyl Overdose?

A: If someone is experiencing a fatal fentanyl overdose, it can be reversed by administering naloxone, an opioid blocker. Naloxone helps restore regular breath rhythms and can stabilize someone amid an overdose. 

Overdosing on fentanyl is a significant sign that someone needs help with their substance abuse. 

Q: What Happens After Fentanyl Detox?

A: Most people will be referred to an inpatient or residential treatment program following a detox program. Continued treatment significantly increases the likelihood of a successful and sustained recovery from fentanyl abuse.

Finding Help for Fentanyl Addiction

There are options for help if you or your loved one are struggling with fentanyl abuse. Our admissions team is here to answer any questions you may have about the detoxification process. Contact our team 24/7 at (888)-981-8263.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Fentanyl Facts
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Effective Treatments for Opioid Addiction
MedlinePlus – Opiate and opioid withdrawal


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