Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox Timeline
Fentanyl is a potent opioid drug prescribed to treat breakthrough cancer pain, acute pain from surgery and trauma and other severe types of pain in emergency settings.1 As a Schedule II substance, fentanyl has a high potential for abuse and chronic use can lead to physical dependence, which means a person can experience unpleasant fentanyl withdrawal symptoms when they detox or stop using the drug.1
Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms
To understand drug withdrawal, it is important to understand its relationship to dependence. Dependence occurs when a person’s body becomes so used to the drug being present in it that when they cut back on their use or quit fentanyl, withdrawal symptoms emerge.2 In other words, a person feels like they need fentanyl to function normally. With significant levels of physiological dependence, a person may continue to compulsively use fentanyl to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms.2
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe physical symptoms, which can start within a few hours of a person’s last dose.3 Fentanyl withdrawal can typically be managed with proper medical supervision.2
You may be wondering, ‘what does fentanyl withdrawal feel like?’ Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the type of substance used and other individual factors like a person’s overall health, age, how long they have used fentanyl, the amount of fentanyl used and the presence of co-occurring addictions.4 Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can include:2, 3, 4
- Muscle and bone pain.
- Cold flashes and goosebumps.
- Involuntary leg movements.
- Severe cravings.
If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal, seek immediate medical attention.
Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline
You may be wondering how long fentanyl withdrawal lasts. The timeline for fentanyl withdrawal is difficult to predict as it can vary depending on several factors, like the route of administration, polysubstance use, how long a person has been using fentanyl, age and how much they used.4
General timelines for the onset of opioid withdrawal symptoms are 8 to 24 hours for short-acting opioids and 12 to 48 hours for long-acting opioids.5 Withdrawal symptoms typically last 4 to 10 days for short-acting opioids and 10 to 20 days for long-acting opioids.5
What Are the Risks of Withdrawal From Fentanyl?
Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are rarely life-threatening but can be highly uncomfortable, leading people to use fentanyl again.4 Withdrawal can sometimes have serious side effects or complications, though these are rare:4
- Aspiration: Some people who are in withdrawal may first pass out and, at some point later, vomit. This may result in choking or breathing stomach contents into the lungs (aspiration), which can lead to infection in the form of pneumonia.
- Dehydration: Severe diarrhea and vomiting can also result in dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can lead to fainting and serious complications if not treated.
- Relapse and overdose: Another danger of withdrawal is a relapse. Cravings and urges are very common when an individual is dependent on fentanyl and begins to experience withdrawal symptoms. As a result, if a person begins using fentanyl again, even in smaller doses than usual, overdoses are more likely to occur since the person’s tolerance has been greatly reduced.
Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawal
If you or a loved one is ready to quit fentanyl or other opioids, professional treatment can help to alleviate uncomfortable, physical symptoms and provide support while going through the detoxification process.
Addiction treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient, will typically provide a combination of behavioral therapy, medication management, mutual support groups and other interventions to serve a person’s unique needs. Many inpatient programs offer detox and some outpatient programs offer it as well.
Behavioral therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy can provide a person with:7
- Coping strategies.
- Stress management skills.
- Help changing their attitudes and behaviors related to drug misuse.
Examples of fentanyl addiction treatment programs are as follows:8
- Inpatient or residential treatment requires that a person lives at the recovery center for the duration of the program and offers a variety of services to help a person recover. You may choose a 28- or 30- day, 60-day or 90-day treatment program.
- Outpatient treatment allows people to live at home and visit the treatment facility on a regular basis to receive care. Outpatient treatment ranges in levels of intensity and may be beneficial for people who need to continue working or have less severe addictions.
Learn more about inpatient vs. outpatient treatment.
American Addiction Centers maintains a strong partnership with a large group of insurance companies at our addiction treatment facilities. Start the journey to recovery from fentanyl addiction and find out instantly whether your insurance provider may be able to cover all or part of the cost of rehabilitation and associated therapies.
What Are Fentanyl Detoxification Programs Like?
The detoxification process includes specific interventions to help a person safely manage withdrawal from substances like fentanyl.4 Interventions may include medication, treatment for co-occurring disorders and other medical conditions and supervision.
While detox is often an important first stage of the addiction treatment process, continuing other forms of treatment after detox may be more effective at helping a person maintain long-term abstinence.6
Fentanyl detox can take place in a variety of settings and intensity levels depending on a person’s needs.4 Both inpatient and outpatient rehab facilities typically offer detox programs and some facilities are devoted solely to providing support through detox. A person should undergo an evaluation before entering treatment to ensure they are receiving the most appropriate level of care.4
People who attend detox centers may transfer to inpatient or outpatient recovery programs after the detox program has been completed to continue addiction treatment.
Medications for Opioid Withdrawal
Treatment medication is an important component of treating opioid withdrawal symptoms.4 The following medications may be used for fentanyl withdrawal:9
- Methadone is a long-acting opioid medication that is often used to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and is used as a long-term treatment to reduce cravings and urges.
- Buprenorphine is an opioid receptor partial agonist, which means that it binds to partially activate opioid receptors to help ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
- Lofexidine is a non-opioid medication that is known to help alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms.
How to Find Fentanyl Detox Centers or Rehabs Near Me
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to fentanyl, American Addiction Centers’ (AAC’s) caring admissions navigators are ready to hear your story and help you find the right treatment for your needs. Call us for free today at to learn more about AAC’s treatment facilities and programs and check your insurance coverage so that you can begin your recovery journey. There are also free drug abuse hotline numbers you can contact.