Side Effects of Fentanyl Withdrawal


Side Effects of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Withdrawal is one of most difficult processes an addict undergoes during recovery, and for some, the thought of having to endure the side effects of withdrawal is enough to deter them from stopping their drug use. Fentanyl withdrawal is an especially rigorous drug to experience withdrawal from as it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Though the physiological and psychological symptoms of withdrawal vary by each person depending on the type and severity of addiction, as well as their unique biological composition, there are many side effects commonly attributed to Fentanyl withdrawal. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can also be mitigated though pharmacological or therapeutic means, which can greatly reduce the duration of the withdrawal process and minimize the intensity of its side effects.

These mitigating measures allow for a more comfortable and calm transition into recovery. Before it is possible to understand the side effects of Fentanyl withdrawal, it is vital to analyze the unique characteristics of Fentanyl and how these features inform the withdrawal process.

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid analgesic known for its potency. Fentanyl is a Schedule II prescription drug that is commonly used to treat patients with severe pain or to treat patients with chronic pain that have developed a tolerance to other opioids. Fentanyl is also used to manage pain after major surgery.

When in its prescription form, Fentanyl is typically known by names such as Actiq®, Duragesic®, and Sublimaze®. However, in its street form, Fentanyl is known by a wide variety of street names, such as Apache, China Girl, China Town, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfellas, Great Bear, He-Man, Jackpot, King Ivory, Murder 8, and Tango & Cash.

There are also several street names for Fentanyl laced heroin, such as China White, Poison, and T.N.T., Fentanyl is highly addictive and extremely powerful, making it a very dangerous drug to begin taking. Because of its potency and fast-acting nature, Fentanyl has become a common street drug being illicitly used.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Fentanyl withdrawal occurs when someone who is addicted to or is physically dependent on Fentanyl stops taking Fentanyl and begins to wean themselves off. There are a variety of methods commonly practiced to begin recovery and end dependence or addiction, and which method is utilized will have a significant impact on the severity and duration of the withdrawal symptoms.

Quitting “cold turkey” means to cease any use of a substance without weaning off of it or replacing it with a milder version. Ceasing in this manner often leads to more severe withdrawal symptoms than a pharmacological approach, which involves slowly weaning from Fentanyl to milder drugs.

Before beginning recovery, it is important to consider which withdrawal method best suits the type and severity of the addiction and will be most likely to lead to a long-lasting and successful recovery. Below are a handful of the most common side effects associated with Fentanyl withdrawal:

  • Sweating
  • Runny Nose
  • Watery Eyes
  • Coughing
  • Chills, fever, or goosebumps
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping, up to insomnia
  • Physical weakness
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Excessive yawning
  • Memory problems or difficulty focusing
  • Cognitive Issues
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cravings or obsession about the substance
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Muscle aches or bone pain
  • Irritation or mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Itching
  • Sneezing

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms occur as a result of the brain attempting to gain equilibrium without the help of chemical controlling neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. The effects of Fentanyl withdrawal can sometimes cause relapse due to the overall discomfort, which makes it vital to seek medical help when detoxing from a substance addiction.

Fentanyl detox is marked by three main stages. Because Fentanyl is a slow-acting narcotic, the initial stage can take several hours for the body to begin experiencing withdrawal. Mild symptoms typically begin to occur between 12 and 30 hours after the final Fentanyl dose. This initial stage will usually last 2-3 days and is usually marked by insomnia, sweating, runny nose, agitation, and muscle aches.

The peak stage of Fentanyl withdrawal is on days 3-5, when the physical symptoms become most intense. Typically, these symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle and bone pain, and a runny nose. This stage is also marked by psychological symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

Generally, once it is past day five, these symptoms begin to subside and normalcy will begin to set in. This is due to the brain re-learning how to release neurotransmitters to the opioid receptors without any outside interference.

The final stage is the long-term stage of recovery. Fentanyl withdrawal side effects should cease within 1-2 weeks, though some psychological symptoms such as cravings and depression may linger longer. It is important to monitor these symptoms in order to avoid a future relapse.

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