Fentanyl Withdrawal: A Timeline to Recovery

fentanyl withdrawal

Every day, over 150 people die from overdoses caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This medication has its place, but when fentanyl addiction takes over, it’s dangerous. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid dependence, the first step is detox. During detox, individuals will experience fentanyl withdrawal. It’s not easy, but understanding the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms and timeline can help you prepare. 

Keep reading and learn more about taking the first steps toward recovery. 

Early Stage Withdrawal Symptoms

During the early stages of fentanyl withdrawal, individuals may start to experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration from person to person.

The early stage typically begins eight to 24 hours after the last use.

Physically, individuals may experience flu-like symptoms such as:

  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating

They may also have trouble sleeping and feel restless or agitated. These physical symptoms can be uncomfortable and make it difficult for individuals to function normally.

Psychologically, early-stage withdrawal symptoms often include feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression, and mood swings. Individuals may also have difficulty concentrating or making decisions. These psychological symptoms can be overwhelming and affect a person’s emotional well-being.

Peak Withdrawal Symptoms

During the peak withdrawal phase of fentanyl detoxification, individuals may experience intense physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can be overwhelming and challenging to cope with, but it’s important to remember that they are temporary.

Physically, peak withdrawal symptoms may include the following:

  • Severe muscle aches and cramps
  • Sweating profusely
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping

The body is essentially readjusting to functioning without the drug. These symptoms typically start 36 to 72 hours after last use.

Psychologically, individuals going through peak withdrawal may experience extreme anxiety or panic attacks, depression, or mood swings. Irritability and agitation are also common during this stage. Those in recovery must have support systems in place to help them navigate these difficult emotions.

Late Stage Withdrawal Symptoms

During the late stage of fentanyl withdrawal, individuals may experience a variety of distressing symptoms as their body continues to adjust to functioning without the drug. These symptoms can be intense and challenging to manage, requiring additional support and care.

Physical discomfort is one common aspect of late-stage withdrawal. Individuals may experience the following;

  • Persistent muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping

They may also struggle with insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns, causing them to feel tired and irritable during the day.

Psychological symptoms can also emerge during this stage. Anxiety and depression are common as individuals navigate the emotional ups and downs associated with withdrawal. Mood swings can be severe and unpredictable, making it difficult for individuals to regulate their emotions effectively.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is a common experience for individuals recovering from fentanyl addiction. PAWS can persist for weeks or even months after stopping fentanyl use. These symptoms can be challenging and frustrating, but it’s important to remember that they are temporary and part of the healing process.

During this stage, individuals may experience lingering physical discomfort such as fatigue, insomnia, muscle aches, and headaches. Psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, irritability, and difficulty concentrating can also persist during PAWS.

Coping strategies play an essential role in managing PAWS. Seeking medical help and support is crucial as healthcare professionals can provide guidance on symptom management techniques and offer emotional support.

How Long Does Fentanyl Withdrawal Last?

Fentanyl withdrawal can be a challenging and uncomfortable process, but understanding how long it may last can help individuals prepare for the journey ahead. The duration of fentanyl withdrawal varies from person to person and depends on various factors. This could include the amount used, duration of use, and overall health.

In general, the acute phase of fentanyl withdrawal typically lasts about one to two weeks.

After the acute phase subsides, some individuals may continue to experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) for several months or even up to a year. 

Coping Strategies During Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl withdrawal isn’t easy. You need to have strategies in place to help you navigate this time.

Seek Medical Help and Support

Medical help and support can provide you with the resources and guidance needed to navigate the challenges of withdrawal. A healthcare professional can assess your situation and develop a personalized plan for managing symptoms. Additionally, they may be able to prescribe medications or recommend other treatments to alleviate discomfort during this difficult time.

Holistic Approaches for Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

In addition to seeking medical help, incorporating holistic approaches into your coping strategies can also be beneficial during fentanyl withdrawal. Self-care activities that can support your overall well-being during this challenging time are essential. This could include the following: 

  • Regular exercise
  • Practicing relaxation techniques (i.e., deep breathing, meditation)
  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Getting enough sleep 

The Importance of Professional Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawal

Seeking professional treatment for fentanyl detox is crucial in ensuring a safe and successful recovery. While some individuals may attempt to undergo the process on their own, this can be extremely risky and may lead to severe complications.

Potential for Relapse

The intense cravings and discomfort associated with withdrawal can drive individuals back to using the drug as a means of finding relief. This cycle of relapse and withdrawal can become dangerous, as each subsequent relapse increases the risk of overdose due to reduced tolerance.

Dehydration or Malnutrition

During withdrawal, individuals often experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. These symptoms can lead to further health complications, such as electrolyte imbalances or weight loss without proper hydration and nutrition.

Mental Health

Self-withdrawal from fentanyl may not address underlying mental health issues that contributed to drug use in the first place. Fentanyl addiction often co-occurs with conditions like depression or anxiety disorders. Without professional treatment that addresses both addiction and mental health concerns concurrently, there is a higher likelihood of incomplete recovery or relapse.

Stages of Recovery After Fentanyl Withdrawal

Once the physical and psychological symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal have subsided, individuals enter into the stages of fentanyl recovery. This is a crucial time when they can rebuild their lives and work towards long-term sobriety.

Begin Addressing Underlying Issues

In the first stage of recovery, individuals may experience a renewed sense of clarity and determination. They start to address any underlying issues that contributed to their addiction. They also begin to develop healthier coping mechanisms.

It’s important during this phase for individuals to establish a strong support system. This could consist of friends, family, or others in recovery.

Set Goals and Make Positive Changes

The second stage involves setting goals and positively changing various aspects of life. This could include:

  • Finding employment
  • Mending relationships with loved ones
  • Pursuing hobbies that bring joy and fulfillment

Ongoing therapy and participation in support groups are also essential during this time. They provide accountability and guidance on the journey toward lasting recovery.

Maintain Sobriety

During the final stage of recovery after fentanyl withdrawal, individuals focus on maintaining their newfound sobriety through relapse prevention strategies. This includes the following:

  • Continued therapy sessions
  • Regular check-ins with their support network
  • Practicing self-care techniques
  • Staying vigilant about potential triggers or temptations

Relapse Prevention Strategies After Fentanyl Withdrawal

Recovery from fentanyl withdrawal is a significant accomplishment, but it’s important to remember that the journey doesn’t end there. The risk of relapse is always present, making it crucial to have effective strategies in place to maintain sobriety and prevent a return to drug use.

Support Networks

Surround yourself with individuals who understand your struggle and can provide encouragement and accountability. This could include family, friends, support groups, or therapists specializing in addiction recovery.

Therapy and Counseling

Continued therapy or counseling sessions can help address underlying issues that may have contributed to substance abuse. These sessions can also teach coping skills for managing triggers and cravings effectively.

Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Adopting healthy habits can promote overall well-being and reduce the risk of relapse. This could include regular exercise, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress reduction techniques like mindfulness or meditation.

Avoidance of Triggers

Identify people, places, or situations that may tempt you back into using fentanyl. Then, make conscious efforts to avoid them whenever possible.

Ongoing Education

Stay informed about the dangers of fentanyl use through educational resources on drug addiction. Continue learning about healthier alternatives for pain management if needed.

Relapse Prevention Medications

In some cases, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may be recommended as part of ongoing care after withdrawal from fentanyl. These medications help reduce cravings while also blocking the effects of opioids if they are used again.

Find the Help You Need in Arizona

Recovering from fentanyl addiction is a challenging process. But with the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome this powerful drug. If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl addiction, reach out for help.

Are you ready to begin the fentanyl withdrawal process? Purpose Healing Center offers individualized plans to help with your recovery. Let us walk with you as you discover your purpose. 

Contact us today for more information.