Fentanyl Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Management

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Fentanyl is considered one of the deadliest drugs that hold your brain captive in the worst way possible. In 2021 alone, out of 106,000 deaths, fentanyl was responsible for 70,601 deaths in the US. Many people who try to quit end up relapsing because the withdrawal is intense and the dependence is strong.

The drug is so intense that its withdrawal can kill you if you try to quit it without any medical supervision. However, there are still successful treatments for fentanyl addiction. In this article, we will discuss the withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl and how they are managed.

Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, meaning that it does not occur naturally. Rather, it is created in laboratories. The use of fentanyl was limited to hospitals and other medical settings due to its analgesic properties. However, recently, the illicit use of fentanyl has skyrocketed. The dangerous news is that fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine, another opioid used for pain management. 

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

When you first get off of fentanyl, you are likely to experience symptoms, some of which are likely to go away while others may stay long-term. 

Short-term Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Body aches

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Sweating

  • Diarrhea

  • Changes in body temperature

  • Cramps

  • Flu-like symptoms

Long-term Withdrawal Symptoms

Remember that recovery is a lifelong process. While most of the symptoms will go away, many of them might stay for a longer period of time. These include:

  • Irritability and other mood swings

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Anxiety or depression

  • Cravings

If a person starts taking fentanyl in their formative years, say in their teenage years, it can alter their brain chemistry, making them more prone to depression and anxiety. This is why it is very important to undergo treatment as soon as you feel like you are falling into the pit of fentanyl addiction. 

When Do Withdrawal Symptoms Start Showing Up?

Withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl can begin to appear within a few hours after the last use, and peak within the first few days. Acute withdrawal symptoms can last for several days to weeks and may include cravings, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, and anxiety. 

As the acute symptoms begin to subside, some people may experience more long-term withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, insomnia, and decreased appetite, which can persist for several weeks or months after stopping the use of fentanyl. It has a longer half-life which means that fentanyl will stay in your system for a longer period of time. 

Learn more about “How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System”.


The duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on several factors, including:

  • The frequency of fentanyl usage

  • The amount of fentanyl used

  • Body weight

  • Metabolism

It is highly recommended to seek medical attention and support when discontinuing the use of fentanyl to manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse. 

Managing Fentanyl Withdrawal with Medical Means

There are a couple of things that are done to manage fentanyl withdrawal and retain sobriety.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is one of the most common methods used to manage fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. This process is done in a medical facility where professionals can monitor the patient’s progress and provide medication to help ease the symptoms. The goal of medical detox is to safely manage the patient’s withdrawal symptoms, prevent complications, and prepare them for the next phase of treatment. Medical detox is often followed by residential or outpatient treatment programs that offer counseling, behavioral therapy, and support groups to help patients maintain sobriety. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is another effective treatment option for fentanyl addiction. This program combines the use of medication and behavioral therapy to help patients manage their withdrawal symptoms and maintain sobriety. 

The medications used in MAT for fentanyl addiction include:

  • Buprenorphine

  • Methadone

  • Naltrexone

  • Buprenorphine/Naloxone

These medications work by reducing cravings and blocking the effects of opioids on the brain. These medications are branded under the names of Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol, etc. Not every physician is qualified to prescribe these medications. Therefore, check the authenticity of the rehab that you take help from.

Behavioral Therapies 

Behavioral therapies are an important part of fentanyl addiction treatment. These therapies help patients identify and change the negative thoughts and behaviors that led to their addiction in the first place. Some of the commonly opted-for therapies include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

  • Group Therapy

  • Individual Therapy

These therapies are often used in conjunction with medication-assisted treatment and medical detox to provide a comprehensive and holistic treatment for fentanyl addiction. It is important to work with a qualified addiction specialist to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

Tapering Off of Fentanyl

If your doctor deems it fit, they may also gradually taper off of fentanyl. Tapering off means gradually reducing the amount of any drug so that rather than shocking the brain at once, they are able to overcome addiction slowly and gradually. 

Remember that this procedure should only be done under medical supervision. Fentanyl is an extremely potent drug and combating its dependence on your own can be very challenging. The best thing is to talk to your practitioner to make the best choice for your health. 

Wrapping Up!

Fentanyl withdrawal can be very painful. However, this can be alleviated if you get help from addiction specialists. Remember that addiction can be overcome. There are thousands of success stories. With appropriate medical care and resilience, you can fight off and start to live your life normally again.

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