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Fentanyl Detox

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl addiction is a severe condition that affects more Americans than one would think. Synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, are now the most common drugs involved in drug overdose deaths in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2017, 59.8 percent of opioid-related deaths involved fentanyl, compared to 14.3 percent in 2010.

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. It is a prescription drug that is also made and used illegally. Like morphine, it is a medicine typically used to treat patients with severe pain, especially after surgery. 

It is also sometimes used to treat patients with chronic pain who are physically tolerant to other opioids. Tolerance occurs when you need a higher and more frequent amount of a drug to get the desired effects. In its prescription form, fentanyl is known as Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. 

When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl can be given as a shot, a patch on a person’s skin, or as lozenges sucked like cough drops. The illegally used fentanyl associated with recent overdoses is made in labs. This synthetic fentanyl is sold unlawfully as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids.

Most recent cases of fentanyl overdose and death in the U.S. are linked to illegally made fentanyl. It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin and cocaine as a combination product—with or without the user’s knowledge—to increase its euphoric effects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [1], rates of overdose deaths involving fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (carfentanil) increased by over 16% from 2018 to 2019. More than 36,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, in 2019.

fentanyl detox
Fentanyl detox is the process of weaning someone off of a fentanyl dependency. It allows members of centers like We Level Up to recover healthily.

Fentanyl Addict – Is Fentanyl Addictive?

Like heroin, morphine, and other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by binding to the body’s opioid receptors, which are found in areas of the brain that control pain and emotions. After taking opioids many times, the brain adapts to the drug, diminishing its sensitivity and making it hard to feel pleasure from anything besides it. When people become addicted, drug-seeking and drug use take over their lives.

Even just a couple of milligrams of this opioid can be fatal for recreational users. Many illegal versions of fentanyl are circulating in the streets, with various substances interacting in dangerous ways. This drug, called non-pharmaceutical fentanyl (NPF), is produced in makeshift labs and often cut with cocaine or heroin.

Even with prescription use, fentanyl can cause seizures, respiratory failure, coma, and death. One of the significant reasons Fentanyl deaths are rising is how quickly users die from it, well before most emergency medical personnel can administer successful treatment, often an injection of naloxone. In addition, the effect that fentanyl has on the muscles of the abdomen and chest often makes it difficult for first responders to administer CPR.

Why Do People Take Fentanyl? 

Fentanyl is used because it produces a stronger high than other opioids. The fentanyl sold illegally is a powder, a liquid, a spray, or a pill. Some substance abusers use fentanyl without knowing it because it is mixed into other drugs. This can include heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Very little of the drug is needed to produce the desired effects. People using other drugs may not realize fentanyl is laced into it. As a result, they may take a more potent dose that will lead to an overdose. Because of this uncertainty, many people who misuse opioids now do “test doses,” hoping they can tell if the drug is laced with fentanyl.

What is Fentanyl Used For?

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is not intended to be used for short-term pain and will go away in a few days or on an as-needed basis. Some studies warn against using fentanyl to treat surgical pain, but it is still sometimes used for such pain management. When fentanyl is used for surgical applications, it’s typically part of the anesthesia administered to patients to manage pain following the surgery.

How is Fentanyl Taken?

Fentanyl can be injected, snorted/sniffed, smoked, taken orally by pill or tablet, and spiked onto blotter paper. Fentanyl patches are abused by removing their gel contents and then injecting or ingesting these contents. Patches have also been frozen, cut into pieces, and placed under the tongue or in the cheek cavity. Illicitly produced fentanyl is sold alone or in combination with heroin and other substances and has been identified in counterfeit pills, mimicking pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone.

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Is it Safe to Detox from Fentanyl Cold Turkey?

It’s not safe to go cold turkey with fentanyl. Fentanyl, just like all other opioids, can lower a person’s respiratory rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. If fentanyl is suddenly stopped, these systems can go haywire. People can experience a sudden increase in blood pressure, leading to strokes or heart attacks. Moreover, detox from fentanyl cold turkey comes with a host of long-lasting emotional issues. Without assistance, people who try to quit cold turkey can experience dangerous side effects and are at increased risk of relapse and harm.

Medical detox is always recommended for opioids like Fentanyl. Medical specialists can get patients on weaning off schedule, where they are given ever-decreasing doses of Fentanyl. Or, doctors can completely replace the drug with Buprenorphine/Naltrexone. Giving the body time to wean off an opioid will lessen the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl Detox Symptoms

Fentanyl produces euphoric effects, pushing people to start abusing the drug in the first place. It makes the user feel good. That’s why many people take it recreationally, not knowing the risks. And if a person is already addicted, attempting to quit without proper treatment will result in withdrawal from fentanyl, also known as fentanyl detox symptoms. These can include:

  • Fentanyl cravings
  • Goose bumps
  • Runny nose
  • Increased tearing
  • Sweating
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Excessive yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscles aches
  • Joint pain
  • Weakness
  • Stomach cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation

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What Is a Fentanyl Detox?

The method of removing fentanyl from the body safely is called detox, which is the removal of toxic substances from the bloodstream.

This process is usually performed in a specialized substance abuse treatment center. Detox can be part of either an outpatient or an inpatient program, depending on the specific needs of the individual. Typically, residential detox is called medical detox, which includes medical and mental health support provided by highly trained professionals around the clock. Vital signs are monitored to ensure each individual’s safety, and medications are also often used to manage physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. A residential detox is usually recommended for fentanyl withdrawal as it is a powerful opioid.

The type of detox a person must undergo depends on many factors. In some cases, a person can choose to detox at home. But even at home, the person needs to have proper supervision. Additionally, the individual will need examination by a professional to ensure that the detox process is going smoothly. The monitoring process is also vital during treatment. Medical professionals monitor the detox process and ensure that it’s working correctly. 

Why You Should Not Attempt Fentanyl Detox at Home Alone?

By itself, detox isn’t enough. Medical detoxification alone does little to change long-term drug use, but it is a good start. The problem is that many people who go through detox do not move on to rehab procedures afterward. Rehab is where the true healing for addiction occurs. Rehab is where people learn how to live without giving in to their addictions.

What is Safe During Fentanyl Detox?

To begin a safe detox, consult with a medical professional, preferably one with addiction treatment or withdrawal management experience. This specialist can provide a thorough assessment of your status and risks.

In determining an appropriate treatment plan for you, he or she may ask you questions about:

fentanyl detox
Fentanyl detox centers can help those suffering from addictions such as fentanyl misuse overcome their dependence without coming to harm.
  • The type or types of substances you use regularly and whether you are currently intoxicated.
  • The frequency, dose, and duration of your use.
  • Any preexisting and concurrent mental health symptoms.
  • Your physical health/medical history.
  • Previous withdrawal and detox attempts.
  • How much support do you have at home.

Your answers to these questions will help determine an appropriate care level. In very limited instances, natural (or “cold turkey”) detox may be an option for a healthy person with no significant physical dependence or with a history of use of a substance not typically associated with dangerous withdrawal symptoms (e.g., hallucinogens, some inhalants).

What Isn’t Safe During Fentanyl Detox?

Detoxing at home or without appropriate withdrawal management may not be safe with some types of substance dependence. In certain cases, and with certain substances (such as alcohol), abruptly quitting without medical withdrawal management can be risky.

If you experience progressively severe withdrawal symptoms and complications without medical care or assistance, detoxing at home can be dangerous. For example, left unmanaged, detox from alcohol can bring about withdrawal symptoms such as seizures or delirium tremens that can lead to death. Also, a relapse could increase if a person is subjected to an unpleasant withdrawal and has no plan for medical assistance.

Completing detox from drugs and alcohol at home is only a viable option for substances that don’t produce perilous withdrawal symptoms. Remember, however, that while there may be relatively few common medical dangers, some unexpected risks may arise. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), several medical complications, such as nausea and vomiting, can occur during detoxes.

Particularly in scenarios where an altered level of consciousness is a factor, it’s possible individuals may aspirate on their vomit, which can be fatal. The uncomfortable nature of withdrawal symptoms and the presence of accompanying substance cravings can contribute to relapse or return to drug or alcohol use when withdrawal symptoms aren’t managed. Drug cravings can be tough to resist when withdrawal feels too uncomfortable to handle. Getting professional support can make a big difference in preventing relapse and making it to the next treatment step.

The 3 Stages of Fentanyl Detox

We Level Up’s fentanyl detox program has three distinct stages that focus on different elements of helping people overcome opioid addiction. Each of these steps of detox is carefully designed to ensure people struggling with fentanyl addiction get the exact help they need and have the best overall chances of recovery.

First Stage: Assessment

The first step in the fentanyl detox program is a thorough and detailed assessment process. This stage happens as soon as people enter a medical detox and is designed to help our team build a customized treatment plan for your withdrawal process.

This assessment covers several different domains, including your substance use, physical health, and any mental health symptoms you may be experiencing. When you reach out to us, our team may ask you:

  • How long have you been using fentanyl?
  • When was your last fentanyl dose?
  • What is your typical fentanyl dose?
  • How frequently do you use fentanyl throughout the day?
  • Do you use any other addictive substances alongside fentanyl?
  • Do you have any pre-existing health conditions?
  • Are you experiencing any symptoms of mental illness?

Once our team has completed this assessment, they will make a completely personalized treatment plan to ensure that your withdrawal process goes as smoothly as possible. This plan will account for any health conditions or mental health symptoms that may impact the treatment process.

Our knowledgeable staff will answer any questions you may have about your treatment plan and help you understand what to expect during therapy.

Second Stage: Stabilization

The next step of treatment is referred to as the stabilization stage. This step takes up the bulk of the medical detox process and is when people receive targeted medications and treatments that can help them overcome physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.

During this phase, clients are medically supervised by experienced professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This includes basic health assessments, such as checking your blood pressure and monitoring your respiration.

It also helps our team assess your progress through treatment, gauge how well you are responding to your opioid addiction medications, and provide emotional support in a difficult time.

The stabilization phase is performed in a residential treatment environment, where clients are free from the temptations and triggers of the outside world. Our team will prepare all of your meals, provide whatever you need to feel comfortable, and allow you to focus your energy on feeling better and preparing for the next phase of treatment.

Withdrawing from fentanyl is never easy, but the stabilization phase makes it much more comfortable, manageable, and achievable than when people attempt to quit alone.

Third Stage: Transition

The final stage of detox treatment is the transition of care. Medical detox is a vital first step in the recovery process but is typically not enough to produce long-term sobriety on its own. People struggling with fentanyl addiction will need to transfer to an addiction treatment center in order to maintain the hard-won abstinence they achieved in detox.

At We Level Up, the transition between detox and addiction care is as seamless as possible. We Level Up’s treatment network covers the full continuum of care, allowing our different treatment facilities to work together to build an overall treatment plan from the very beginning.

For you as the client, the transition phase is when medical treatments typically end and you prepare to transfer to a new facility. You have several options to choose from for your future addiction treatment, and our team will make sure that you are fully prepared before you transfer to the new location.

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What Happens After Fentanyl Detox?

After completing a medical detox program, clients transfer to one of We Level Up’s dedicated addiction treatment facilities. These facilities offer several levels of care, including:

Residential Rehab

Residential treatment is the next step for most people who abuse fentanyl. During residential treatment, clients live on-site at an addiction treatment facility with other people working toward recovery and receive targeted and intensive therapies throughout the day.

This includes several evidence-based treatment modalities, including:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Relapse prevention programs
  • Family therapy
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Experiential therapies

Together, these treatments help people build the tools and skills necessary for a lifetime in recovery.

Residential rehab typically lasts between 30 and 90 days, though clients with severe opioid addictions may benefit from extending this period even further.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

We Level Up’s partial hospitalization program (PHP) offers the same evidence-based therapies offered at residential treatment but in an outpatient setting. Clients at a PHP attend treatment several days a week for several hours at a time, but they return to their own homes or a sober living community after the treatment day has finished.

PHPs are best suited to people who have a safe and supportive environment to return home to at night but still need a high level of addiction care to sustain their recovery. In addition, many people transition to PHPs after completing a residential treatment program in an effort to extend the treatment process while slowly ramping down the intensity of care.

One of the key benefits of PHPs is that they allow people to practice the skills they’ve learned in treatment when they return home. Clients can put their coping mechanisms into practice and assess any real-world triggers or temptations that they need to work on in treatment.

Dual-Diagnosis Programs

Dual-diagnosis programs are designed specifically for people dealing with co-occurring mental illness and addiction. Many people struggling with fentanyl addiction are also living with mental health disorders, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

If they are left untreated, these mental health challenges can significantly increase the risk of relapse after somebody completes an addiction treatment program.

At a dual-diagnosis treatment facility, clients undergo targeted mental health treatment alongside the best evidence-based methods for treating their substance use disorders. This could include services such as psychiatric evaluations, targeted mental health medications, specialized therapy programs, or mental health-focused support groups.

Dual-diagnosis treatment centers are offered in both inpatient and outpatient settings and provide the highest level of care for people dealing with co-occurring disorders.

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Fentanyl Detox Timeline

In a medical fentanyl detox facility, your withdrawal symptoms can be treated real-time and your treatment adjusted accordingly. They can also provide emergency medical intervention if necessary. You’ll be able to employ their expertise in managing and reducing withdrawal symptoms. The pain and discomfort of the detox will still be there, but it’s more manageable thanks to the medical team and the treatment they’ll be prescribing.

They’ll also create a treatment plan that addresses your fentanyl use, medical history, and physical and mental condition. The treatments that medical detox facilities provide are holistic and can involve programs and activities like counseling, meditation, group therapy, and yoga.

While fentanyl addiction is common, everyone is different and can benefit from a medically assisted treatment plan that considers their different needs. This sets you up for better, safer, and more long-term recovery than if you were to do it alone.

People also undergo different symptoms during each phase of fentanyl withdrawal. There are three main stages of withdrawal: early, peak, and long-term effects.

fentanyl detox
In a medical fentanyl detox facility, your withdrawal symptoms can be treated real-time and your treatment adjusted accordingly.

Early Symptoms (2 to 4 Hours After Last Dose)

The earliest symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal involve slight bodily discomforts, such as constant yawning, aches, and chills. Physical symptoms may come with feelings of anxiety, restlessness, and an intense craving for drug use.

Peak Symptoms (24 to 36 Hours After Last Dose)

Peak symptoms may last up to about a week after the last dose. Symptoms may include an increase in earlier withdrawal effects. Individuals may also experience additional symptoms that require medical care and attention, such as fever and vomiting.

How Long Does Fentanyl Detox Last?

Fentanyl detox can last up to several weeks or longer, depending on how your body responds to the medication used to relieve withdrawal symptoms. The greater the amount of fentanyl used, the larger the dose of medicine needed to control and manage symptoms — meaning your detox period may be longer. In some instances, medication may be used for a lifetime to help you stay abstinent from fentanyl and other opioids.

Don’t try detoxing from fentanyl on your own since doing so has life-threatening consequences. Fentanyl is a short-acting opioid, which means withdrawal symptoms can begin anywhere between 8 and 24 hours after the last use and may last between four and ten days.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Hot and cold flashes and sweating
  • Tearing eyes and runny nose
  • Muscle stiffness and aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Insomnia and anxiety

Fentanyl Detox Near Me

Fentanyl addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and give you clarity about issues like the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

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Begin with a free call to an addiction & behavioral health treatment advisor. Learn more about our dual-diagnosis programs. The We Level Up treatment center network delivers recovery programs that vary by each treatment facility. Call to learn more.

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