The Detox Period for Fentanyl

by | Jul 8, 2016 | Treatment | 1 comment

Home » Mental Health » The Detox Period for Fentanyl

Fentanyl is dangerous when used recreationally. But how long does it actually affect us? (designer491/Shutterstock)

Fentanyl is dangerous when used recreationally. But how long does it actually affect us? (designer491/Shutterstock)

Like many opiates, fentanyl use appears to be on the rise. While once abused primarily by addicts working within the medical profession, fentanyl now shows up more and more frequently on the streets. Not only is it a highly effective drug on its own, but many heroin dealers now use fentanyl to cut their supplies. Mixing drugs in this fashion often increases the dangers of their use, which is one of the reasons that we strive so hard to raise awareness regarding the dangers of fentanyl use. Today, we’d like to cover this topic with specific regard to the drug’s detoxification period.

How long does fentanyl stays in the one’s system and what is the amount of time fentanyl shows up in drug tests? Generally, fentanyl stays in the system for at least a day or two, but the answer is actually far more complicated. Fentanyl’s duration has a number of factors.

We will cover these factors below, as well as a few others points including rapid detox and withdrawal symptoms. Following this, we will enter a discussion regarding fentanyl detox at Amethyst Recovery. In the event that you have any questions about fentanyl detox not answered by this article, feel free to contact us today. We are always willing to answer any questions you might have. Detox can be a frightening prospect to opiate addicts, but remember that detox is also the first step toward recovery. Once we are on the other side of it, things begin to look much, much brighter.

How Long Is Fentanyl’s Detox Period?

Don’t get ready to set your timers just yet. There are a few things we have to consider. (Dark Moon Pictures/Shutterstock)

Don’t get ready to set your timers just yet. There are a few things we have to consider. (Dark Moon Pictures/Shutterstock)

As noted above, the detox period for fentanyl revolves around a number of issues. First, we must consider how much of the substance has been abused. We also must consider how it has been abused. A person who uses fentanyl patches and a person who smokes fentanyl-laced heroin will not detox at precisely the same rate. We must then account for time. Has the addict abused fentanyl every day for a week, or every other day for three years? Then we have all of the other factors that go into detox. Two people with the same drug history will still detox differently if they each have a different sex, age, height and weight. Other general health factors play a role in detox as well.

Some of these factors affect the detox period in ways that are difficult to estimate. The form of use, however, provides some basic insight that informs our estimates. For instance, those who abuse fentanyl by intravenous methods often clear their systems in less than a day (11-22 hours). This increases by as much as a day and a half or two days when using transdermal patches or transmucosal lozenges. This sounds like a short amount of time; however, there are two things we must consider.

The first point of consideration is testing. Drugs such as fentanyl do not metabolize without leaving their footprints behind. These “footprints” are called metabolites, and these are what we usually search for when screening for drug use. Even if an addict has not used for over a week, the right plasma screens or urine tests should uncover the slip. This helps us ensure that our patients continue to follow the rules. More importantly, it encourages honesty and accountability—two traits that all recovering addicts should strive to develop.

Secondly, fentanyl addicts should consider withdrawal. Fentanyl may largely clear the system within one or two days, but that doesn’t mean the worst is over. In fact, it is usually just beginning. Because even once the system has been cleared, the body continues expecting its fix. This is the consequence of physical dependence, and it can be highly debilitating.

Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl withdrawal can cause massive pain and discomfort. (Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock)

Fentanyl withdrawal can cause massive pain and discomfort. (Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock)

The withdrawal symptoms for fentanyl are very similar to those of heroin and many other opiate drugs. Some of them are entirely mental or emotional, such as restlessness or irritability. Severe anxiety will also begin to set in. Fentanyl withdrawal causes insomnia as well, which can increase the severity of the above three symptoms. If you smoke cigarettes, then you may be familiar with the anxiety and irritability that occurs after a day without a puff. But in the case of fentanyl, these symptoms are much more extreme.

Physical symptoms will begin to set in as well. Sweating, chills and severe nausea are arguably among the milder withdrawal symptoms that fentanyl addicts may suffer. Then there is gastrointestinal cramping, which can be incredibly debilitating when detoxing outside of treatment. Addicts may also experience discomfort and/or pain in their muscles and bones. In other words, withdrawal makes the addict feel as if their whole body is fighting against them. Because, in a way, that’s precisely what it is doing. This can last for a few days or even longer, depending on how long the patient has been using.

There is a method of rapid detox used by some treatment facilities. Patients are given anesthesia and opiate blockers that cause them to go into withdrawal more quickly. The primary benefit of this is that starting withdrawal early means getting on the other side of it a bit faster. The main drawback is that discomfort will not necessarily be reduced by any great measures. Other drawbacks may include cost, since not all insurance companies will cover rapid detox. The responsibility therefore falls on patients and their families to determine whether or not rapid detox is the way to go.

Regardless of whether or not rapid detox is used, we definitely recommend detoxing in treatment. To say that withdrawal is unpleasant would be something of an understatement. But treatment facilities such as Amethyst can be quite accommodating. We have access to detox medications that will ease the process. Withdrawal still takes its toll on the addict, of course. Some choose to enter specialized detox facilities prior to enrolling in addiction treatment. Below, we will talk about why you should consider going the simpler route and detoxing at Amethyst Recovery.

Detoxing at Amethyst Recovery

Detoxing in treatment will give you access to medical care, should withdrawal pose any complications. (lenetstan/Shutterstock)

Detoxing in treatment will give you access to medical care, should withdrawal pose any complications. (lenetstan/Shutterstock)

We’ve already talked about a few of the benefits of detoxing in treatment, such as the availability of detox medications and the presence of a trained medical staff that can prevent any major complications from withdrawal symptoms. But there are a few other benefits that should be addressed as well. First of all, in addition to field experience, our staff retains personal experience regarding the nature of experience. Many of us went through withdrawal ourselves when we first entered recovery. We understand the discomfort experienced by our patients. We can relate.

Patients who detox in recovery also have more time to forge bonds with other patients. Our staff will not be the only ones upon whom recovering addicts must lean for support. The friends we make in treatment become a part of our sober support network later on. These friends were there when you suffered the pain of fentanyl detox, and they can remind you of this pain if they ever feel you are on the verge of a relapse. Good people cannot see someone suffering without developing a sense of empathy. This empathy will inform your relationships with other patients, and will allow you to grow much closer to one another.

Fentanyl makes for a pretty rough detox period. Proper medical and emotional support, however, wield the potential to ease your discomfort. At Amethyst Recovery, you will never find such support to be lacking. Surrounded by staff and patients who understand the difficulties of detox and withdrawal, you will be in good hands. Never let fear of fentanyl withdrawal keep you from making a change that could truly improve your life. Because once it’s over, you’ll discover that sobriety has numerous untold joys to offer. All you must do is make the decision to seek help. Call Amethyst today, and we’ll help you complete your detox safe and sound. Life is too short to waste on addiction. It’s time to put fentanyl behind you.

1 Comment

  1. Mel

    I’m on fentanyl patches 100mcg as I have spondylosis. Have been on them for about 4 years now. But it does worry me about the future. I’m 50 years old and surely I can’t be on these for the rest of my life. I’m seriously thinking about coming off them sometime in the future but worried about how I’d do this. Mel


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