There has been a shortage of news coverage about the spike in fentanyl overdoses throughout the United States over the last few years. Altogether, opioid overdose deaths have topped 80,000 a year. Those attributed to synthetic opioids, which include fentanyl, increased by 22 percent from 2020 to 2021 and continue to climb.
People recovering from opioid addiction often wonder how long these drugs stay in their system. These concerns can stem from employment drug screening or reasons pertaining to recovery.
How long does fentanyl stay in urine? That depends on several different factors that are often unique to the individual.
This article covers those variables and explains how they impact how fentanyl will show up on various drug screens. It also covers some basic information about fentanyl and the risks of abusing it. Keep reading to learn more about this topic and for advice on addiction recovery solutions.
What Is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug. It is only usually prescribed for pain from major surgery or serious illnesses, like cancer.
It also can be a useful alternative for medical conditions where weaker opioids are ineffective. While similar to morphine in the way it acts in the body, fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful.
Fentanyl is also a dangerous street drug. It is often obtained through theft or illegal prescriptions. It can be created in laboratories by drug dealers intending to sell it illegally.
There are many different ways that people consume fentanyl. Prescription medications usually come as a transdermal patch, lozenge, or nasal spray. Occasionally, it is prescribed as an injectable solution.
Illicit fentanyl can come in different forms as well. Powder or tablets are most common, as well as on absorbent blotter paper.
Fentanyl is often mixed with other drugs. This is in part why overdoses have spiked. Its potency makes it extremely dangerous for anyone who is not aware of its presence and assumes they are taking another drug.
How Does Fentanyl Work?
Like other opioids, fentanyl works by activating opioid receptors in the brain. These affect both pain and emotions.
Fentanyl can dull pain while increasing the production of dopamine from various nerve cells in the brain’s “reward center.” This latter dynamic is what creates a euphoric “high,” which is responsible for the medication’s elevated risk of addiction.
With continued use, the brain gradually adapts to the presence of fentanyl. In fact, it begins to rely on the substance for dopamine production.
This makes it more difficult for the brain’s nerve cells to produce dopamine from other sources, including everyday activities. It is easy to see how this contributes to the likelihood of addiction as well.
Do Withdrawal Symptoms Follow Fentanyl Abuse?
Another factor that makes fentanyl addiction very difficult to overcome is withdrawal symptoms. Like detection, these can vary from person to person, both in presence and severity.
Common ones include irritability; nausea and vomiting; weakness; chills; muscle pain; insomnia; and loss of appetite. More severe symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can include depression, increased heart rate, and elevated blood pressure, all of which can trigger more serious health consequences.
Do Employers Test for Fentanyl?
Historically, it was unusual for employers to test specifically for opioids, including fentanyl. Due to the public health crisis described above, it is becoming more common. As mentioned, opioids dissipate in the body fairly quickly, so in many cases, it can be difficult for drug tests to pinpoint the cause.
If you work as a healthcare professional, the likelihood of fentanyl testing is higher. Also, there are legal situations, such as investigations into crimes or car accidents, where fentanyl testing may be warranted.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Urine?
It is important to distinguish how long the effects of fentanyl last from how long it is detectable in the body. First, the direct effects of the drug only last a few hours. In terms of immediate impact, the substance is cleared from the body within a day or two at most.
Detection in drug tests is another issue. The short answer to “How long does fentanyl stay in urine?” is between 24 and 72 hours after it was last used.
Keep in mind that other tests can detect signs of the drug during different intervals. For instance, blood tests can pick it up between five and 48 hours after use.
Fentanyl can show up on hair tests for up to three months after last usage. It can be detected with saliva tests but not consistently.
What Impacts These Ranges?
Many different factors can influence how quickly your body can metabolize all traces of fentanyl so that it does not show up in urine tests. The main ones are age, body mass, dosage, frequency of use, and other drug interactions.
In general, younger people metabolize medications faster than older people. High body mass can slow metabolization, although there are exceptions. For instance, someone with a higher muscle mass may be more efficient at metabolizing drugs.
Different fentanyl doses and how frequently you take it also can impact how long it stays in your body. Other drugs can impact how long fentanyl is detectable in the body as well. For instance, antidepressants and antifungal medications can slow down the body’s metabolizing of other medications and prolong detection times.
Keep in mind that not every urine drug test will look for fentanyl. If you are concerned about detection, or if you take an opioid prescription for pain purposes, you should discuss this with your employer or the testing agency.
Find Fentanyl Recovery Services Near You
Now that you have an answer to “How long does fentanyl stay in urine?” you can know what to expect. If you are struggling with fentanyl recovery, including dealing with withdrawal symptoms, the good news is that there is help available.
At both our Phoenix campus and Scottsdale location, Purpose Healing Center the highest quality behavioral health care treatment. We provide customized plans for every patient and work with most insurance companies. Reach out to us today to learn more about fentanyl addiction recovery or other treatment options.