Fentanyl belongs to a drug family called opioids, which also includes heroin and morphine, and it is typically prescribed to manage or treat severe pain. Given that fentanyl is so powerful – it is 50 to 100 times more lethal than morphine – it carries a high risk for abuse and accidental overdose. These are risks for both people who take it as prescribed, such as in transdermal patch form, or use it recreationally. Thankfully, addicts can successfully get off the drug and maintain a clean lifestyle. But, fentanyl withdrawal side effects can be significant, which is why stopping fentanyl cold turkey is not recommended.

What Fentanyl Withdrawal Looks Like

Once someone is dependent on fentanyl, the body relies on it. At this point, a user needs a larger dose of the drug to get the same effects as they once felt, which for fentanyl users include euphoria, pain relief, and relaxation because the drug boosts dopamine levels in the brain. The body and mind become used to this drug over time, and dependence can turn into an addiction. If a person decides to get off of the substance, they then must learn to exist without it. If the individual stops abruptly, they may experience fentanyl side effects of withdrawal.

Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal are similar to those of other opioids. Typical symptoms include sweating, anxiety, achy feeling, irritability, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If the drug dependency is particularly strong, withdrawal can also include life-threatening side effects, such as seizures and cardiac arrhythmias if left untreated. Thus, it is important to talk to a medical professional about how to stop fentanyl withdrawal or at least minimize the associated discomfort.

As for the fentanyl withdrawal symptoms timeline, the effects can start to show within 6-36 hours after the last dose, as was found by a frequently-referenced 1994 study. The withdrawal effects are usually at their most painful around 48 hours after the final dose and, typically, they get weaker from there. When in the midst of withdrawal, an addict may feel the temptation to take fentanyl to alleviate the pain. Returning to the substance, though, would only worsen the addiction and might even be fatal.

It is important to note that the exact timeline of the withdrawal symptoms varies from one person to another as each human body is unique and can respond differently to the same dose of a drug. Other factors affecting the length of withdrawal include the individual’s medication history, the typical dosage, and the amount of the last dose.

Minimize Fentanyl Withdrawal Discomfort and Risk

How to taper off the fentanyl patch without withdrawal symptoms can be different for different people. It first requires telling a doctor before stopping use of the patch. Typically, a doctor will gradually reduce the dosage over time. This weaning or tapering process is a way to minimize the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. With that said, the process may not address all psychological and physical symptoms, and, again, no single strategy can apply to everyone. Thus, while a doctor may have a plan for how to stop fentanyl withdrawal, it may not stop all symptoms. In this case, schedules and doses may have to alter over time to keep the patient comfortable.

Given the magnitude of physical and psychological fentanyl withdrawal symptoms, it is advisable for an addict to participate in medical detox to get off the drug in the controlled setting of a reputable rehabilitation facility and in the care of experienced medical professionals. The danger of withdrawing from opioids by yourself comes mainly from the body’s response to massive changes in chemical processes in the body and brain.

Following admission to the center, a person goes through a structured detox under the guidance of an addiction professional to minimize risk to the person seeking recovery and maximize comfort to curb the chances of relapse.

Detox is the start of an individualized treatment plan to help a fentanyl addict quit the drug. It can be an inpatient or outpatient format, depending on many factors, such as the lifestyle of the person seeking help and the extent of their addiction. As said before, each person is unique and, therefore, while some weather the storm relatively quickly, others have issues controlling substance cravings. Addiction treatment options should be chosen according to your specific situation. 

The Road to Recovery After Fentanyl Withdrawal

Following detox, the Fentanyl rehab treatment program will likely include therapy to assess the root of the addiction. The exact therapy and how it is administered – one-on-one, group, or a combination of the two – will depend on several factors, including the type and severity of the addiction, as well as the preferences of the person in recovery. The addiction specialists may also recommend wellness, skills, and exercise components within the plan.

If you or a loved one is battling fentanyl addiction, many treatment options are available. Given the seriousness not only of this opiate addiction but also the risks associated with its withdrawal symptoms, this process is one we take seriously. Call our dedicated recovery professionals now at 877-959-7271 to take the important first step toward a better quality of life.


Meta: Here’s how to minimize Fentanyl withdrawal discomfort and risk associated with it for a smooth road to recovery.