Fentanyl is one of the most powerful, dangerous, and addictive drugs used by people in California and across the country. An alarming number of people are addicted to fentanyl. In addition, every day, individuals addicted to fentanyl overdose. Indeed, fentanyl overdoses are what really underpins the high rate of opioid deaths in the United States today. The first step in recovery from fentanyl abuse or addiction is stopping the use of the drug and addressing the associated withdrawal process. With that in mind, there are a number of facts and factors that need to be understood about the fentanyl withdrawal process

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

The time involved in fentanyl withdrawal differs from one person to the next. With that said, there is a general fentanyl withdrawal timeline that is relatively consistent with most individuals 

During the first six to 12 hours after the last dose of fentanyl, withdrawal symptoms commence. Early fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia 
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose

At the two to four day mark, the peak of withdrawal typically occurs. Symptoms at the two to four-day mark include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe bone pain

These withdrawal symptoms can prove hard to endure. They underscore the reason medical supervision of fentanyl withdrawal is important if not vital. These symptoms can persist for several days. The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal typically dissipate between five to seven days (on average).

When withdrawal has come to an end, there are what are classified as post-acute withdrawal symptoms that occur. These include:

  • Cravings for the drug
  • Mood swings (often significant)
  • Sleep disturbances

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can continue for an extended period of time. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can persist for weeks or even for months. 

Because of the nature of withdrawal and post-withdrawal symptoms, relapse during these processes is commonplace. People relapse to alleviate challenging symptoms of withdrawal. They relapse to alleviate the cravings that arise during the post-acute withdrawal period. 

Causes of Withdrawal

There are a number of key reasons why a person experiences physical, psychological, and emotional withdrawal following stopping the use of fentanyl. The bottom line is that, over time, a person becomes physically, psychologically, and emotionally dependent on fentanyl. Due to the strength of fentanyl, this dependence can occur in a very short period of time. 

As a result of the dependence of fentanyl, its sudden withdrawal from a person’s system has physical, psychological, and emotional consequences. These consequences, these symptoms typically are so significant that medical oversight is the recommended course. This is obtained through a medically supervised detox program. 

Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Treatment for fentanyl abuse or addiction (nearly always addiction) occurs following the withdrawal process. Withdrawal without a structured course of treatment will nearly always result in relapse. Indeed, such a relapse typically occurs in a very short period of time. There are different types of treatment programs, which are discussed more fully in a moment. 

Primary elements of treatment include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Psychiatric care

The counseling elements associated with a fentanyl addiction program are designed to provide a person with assistance in a number of different ways. These include:

  • Coping skills
  • Stress management skills
  • Mindfulness
  • Sober social skills
  • Sober living skills
  • Drug education
  • Aftercare planning
  • Relapse prevention planning

Types of Fentanyl Addiction Programs

Because of the very real challenges associated with fentanyl withdrawal and recovery, there are a number of different types of fentanyl addiction programs available today. These are:

  • Detox center
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Outpatient treatment
  • Partial hospitalization

Detox Center

As has been illustrated previously, detox programs are the initial step in recovery from fentanyl addiction. A detox center can be designed to provide medical oversight and associated supportive counseling when a person stops using fentanyl. The recommendation is for a person to transfer or transition to a recovery program when the detox process has completed.

Inpatient Treatment

As the moniker indicates, inpatient treatment requires an individual to live in a recovery center for the length of a treatment program. Inpatient treatment provides around the clock care and support. In addition, an inpatient treatment program permits a person to get away from the stressors and challenges of day to day life and focus on recovery.

Outpatient Treatment

In an outpatient treatment program, an individual is able to access recovery services while living at home. This course of treatment allows a person to work or carry on with certain aspects of his or her life while in treatment. Typically, a person will be in treatment for several hours a day, five days a week.

Partial Hospitalization 

Partial hospitalization is a more intensive type of outpatient treatment program. Partial hospitalization typically requires a person to be in treatment several hours a day, oftentimes every day of the week. In some cases, partial hospitalization is used following an inpatient course of treatment.