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February 3, 2023

Fentanyl Withdrawal: Signs & Symptoms

In today’s world, fentanyl addiction is becoming increasingly common. According to the DEA, “fentanyl is the single deadliest drug that the United States has ever encountered.” Once a person has become addicted to fentanyl, it can be extremely difficult for them to stop abusing this drug. One reason for this is that fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful. 

Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is an extraordinarily powerful synthetic opioid. As is the case with heroin, morphine, prescription painkillers, and other opioids, fentanyl can ease pain and induce a sense of euphoric relaxation.

Abusing any opioid can put you at risk for severe outcomes, including addiction, overdose, and death. When fentanyl is involved, these risks can be magnified exponentially. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine.

When a person takes fentanyl, the drug binds to the mu-opioid receptors in the central nervous system. This blocks pain signals, but it also slows breathing and heart rate. In hospitals and other legitimate medical settings, fentanyl use is closely monitored to prevent patients from experiencing negative effects. But when someone abuses fentanyl for recreational purposes, it is easy for them to overdose on the drug. Given fentanyl’s potency, an overdose can quickly be fatal.

CDC data indicates that fentanyl overdoses were responsible for more than 50,000 deaths in the United States in 2020 alone. According to the State of Georgia Office of the Attorney General, the annual number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl in the state increased by a stunning 232.1% between 2019 and 2021.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

When you develop an addiction to fentanyl, your body begins to adapt to the presence of the drug in your system. When you can’t use fentanyl, or when you try to end your fentanyl abuse, your body will respond with intense physical and psychological symptoms. This is known as withdrawal.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can begin within eight to 12 hours of your last dose. These symptoms typically peak after about three days. Most fentanyl withdrawal symptoms dissipate within about a week, but some can persist for several weeks or even months. 

Common fentanyl withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Powerful cravings for fentanyl
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Severe cramping
  • Muscle pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression

If you try to stop using fentanyl on your own, the distress of withdrawal can rapidly become overwhelming. This can push you back into the downward spiral of active fentanyl abuse. 

When you get professional care at a reputable treatment center, you will be in a safe and supportive environment where you won’t have access to fentanyl or other addictive substances. Your treatment team can keep you safe and as comfortable as possible until your fentanyl withdrawal symptoms subside.

Types of Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction

Treatment for fentanyl addiction often involves prescription medication and therapy.

The prescription medications that are incorporated into treatment can provide relief from some fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, which makes it easier to stop using the drug. This approach is commonly referred to as medically assisted care or medication-assisted treatment.

Medication can be an extremely beneficial part of treatment for fentanyl addiction. But getting past fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is just one step on the path toward successful recovery. This is why therapy is so important.

During therapy, you can address the emotional, behavioral, and social aspects of fentanyl addiction and recovery. To achieve a drug-free future, you will need to gain insights into your past behaviors, develop essential relapse-prevention skills, and make certain lifestyle changes. Therapy can empower you to accomplish all of this, so you will have a solid foundation for long-term recovery.

At Inner Voyage Recovery Center, the therapeutic component of your fentanyl addiction treatment may involve:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which can help you replace negative thought and behavior patterns with healthier ways of thinking and acting.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT, which can improve your capabilities in areas such as mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness.
  • Trauma therapy, which can help you process difficult experiences from your past that may have contributed to your struggles with fentanyl abuse and addiction.
  • Family programming, which can help you and your loved ones heal conflicts in your relationships, establish stronger bonds, and better support each other.
  • Health and wellness programming, which can be a source of valuable information about diet, nutrition, and exercise to help you strengthen your body and mind.
  • Adventure-based counseling, or ABC, which uses dynamic outdoor activities to help you overcome self-doubt, build your confidence, and discover healthier ways to spend the time that you previously devoted to acquiring and using fentanyl.
  • Christian counseling, which is an optional service for patients who wish to add a faith-based component to their treatment for fentanyl addiction.

Begin Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction Near Atlanta, Georgia

If you have been struggling with fentanyl abuse and addiction, Inner Voyage Recovery Center can help, with fentanyl rehab in Atlanta.

Features of treatment at our center include multiple levels of care, personalized service, and compassionate support. Throughout your time with us, you will work in active collaboration with a team of skilled and dedicated professionals. 

When you’re ready to stop using fentanyl and start living a healthier and more hopeful life, the Inner Voyage Recovery Center team is here for you. Visit our admissions page or contact us directly to learn more.

If you or someone you know needs any of our services

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Author

  • Emily Rowe, LMSW

    Emily Rowe is the Clinical Director at Inner Voyage Recovery Center. She is a Licensed Master of Social Work with 8 years of experience in clinical settings covering one on one sessions, family sessions, group sessions, crisis interventions and suicidal prevention. Recognized by leadership and colleagues as forward thinking, creative, empathetic, active listener and effective.

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