What Happens When You’re Withdrawing From Fentanyl?

What Happens When You’re Withdrawing From Fentanyl?

Withdrawing from Fentanyl can be an unnerving and even scary experience. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal vary from person to person, but withdrawal is typically severe and may cause significant side effects. Though this is a difficult and strenuous journey, many people have passed through it, and we know more of less how it goes. We’ve taken the data and information out there and compiled it to give you a comprehensive guide on withdrawing from fentanyl.

Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawals

Fentanyl withdrawals occur when an individual who has developed a physical dependence on the drug suddenly reduces or stops using it. The withdrawal symptoms experienced during this process can be distressing and may include:

  • Aches and pains in the muscles and bones
  • Insomnia or poor sleep
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Dysphoria (feelings of sadness or irritability)
  • Irritability
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Severe opioid cravings

The onset of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms typically occurs within about 6-12 hours after the last dose. The acute symptoms are usually most severe between day 1 and 3 and gradually subside over the course of about one week. However, post-acute symptoms may persist for longer periods, potentially lasting weeks to months. These post-acute symptoms can include sleep problems, anxiety, inability to feel pleasure, and dysphoria.

The Dangers of Fentanyl Withdrawal

While fentanyl withdrawal is generally not life-threatening, it is essential to recognize that severe complications can arise if withdrawal is not appropriately managed. Vomiting and diarrhea, two common symptoms during withdrawal, can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. In some cases, this can result in heart failure, making it crucial to have proper medical management during fentanyl withdrawal.

Seeking Medical Assistance for Fentanyl Withdrawal

Given the potential risks and challenges associated with withdrawing from fentanyl, seeking medical assistance is highly recommended. A medically assisted fentanyl detox can provide individuals with the necessary support and care to manage withdrawal symptoms effectively.

Medically Assisted Fentanyl Detox

Medical detox and withdrawal management involve the use of medical interventions to help individuals safely navigate the acute withdrawal phase. This approach aims to minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of complications. Medically assisted withdrawal management can take place in both inpatient and outpatient settings and typically involves the use of medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

During medical detox, healthcare professionals may prescribe medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, or lofexidine hydrochloride to ease the distressing symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal. Methadone and buprenorphine are opioid agonists that help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Lofexidine hydrochloride, a non-opioid medication, is approved by the FDA for withdrawal management and can help control certain nervous system activities associated with withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxification alone is not considered a complete treatment for fentanyl addiction. It is crucial to follow detox with comprehensive addiction treatment that addresses the underlying factors contributing to substance use disorder.

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Once individuals have successfully completed the detoxification process, it is important to transition to further addiction treatment. Treatment options for fentanyl addiction may include:

Inpatient/Residential Rehab

Inpatient or residential rehab programs provide intensive, round-the-clock care for individuals recovering from fentanyl addiction. These programs offer a structured environment and a range of therapeutic interventions to support individuals in their recovery journey. Inpatient rehab can be particularly beneficial for individuals with severe addiction or those who require a higher level of support and monitoring.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient programs offer flexibility, allowing individuals to receive treatment while still living at home and maintaining their daily responsibilities. These programs typically involve regular therapy sessions, group counseling, and educational sessions to help individuals develop the skills necessary for long-term recovery. Outpatient programs can be a suitable option for individuals with a stable support system and less severe addiction.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy is a fundamental component of fentanyl addiction treatment. Various evidence-based approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, and motivational interviewing, can help individuals modify their thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors related to fentanyl use. These therapies can enhance coping skills, address underlying issues, and promote sustainable recovery.

Support Services

Support services play a vital role in fentanyl addiction treatment. These services may include individual counseling, group therapy, peer support groups, and family therapy. Engaging in support services can provide individuals with valuable emotional support, guidance, and encouragement throughout their recovery journey.


Holistic Approaches

Holistic approaches, such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices, and art therapy, can complement traditional addiction treatment methods. These techniques focus on addressing the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of addiction and can help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms and self-care practices.

Getting Help for Fentanyl Addiction

If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction or is in need of support during fentanyl withdrawal, it is crucial to seek help from healthcare professionals or addiction treatment centers. Recovery is possible, and there are resources available to assist individuals in their journey towards a healthier and drug-free life.

Remember, withdrawing from fentanyl can be challenging, but with the right support, medical supervision, and evidence-based treatment, individuals can successfully overcome addiction and regain control of their lives.


Withdrawing from fentanyl can be a difficult and uncomfortable experience, but it is crucial to recognize the potential risks and seek appropriate medical assistance. Understanding the symptoms, timeline, and available treatment options for fentanyl withdrawal is essential for supporting individuals in their recovery journey. By providing comprehensive care, including medically assisted detox, addiction treatment, and ongoing support, individuals can successfully overcome fentanyl addiction and achieve long-term recovery.

If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction, reach out to healthcare professionals or addiction treatment centers to get the help and support needed. Remember, recovery is possible, and there are resources available to guide individuals towards a healthier, drug-free life.


Harvard Health: Opioid Withdrawals

NCBI: Treatments for Opioid Dependence

DEA: Facts about Fentanyl

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