Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Profound Treatment Los Angeles can help with understanding fentanyl withdrawal symptoms. It is incredibly important to be aware of any and all possible barriers to your sobriety.

Fentanyl was in the news recently for the accidental overdose of famous singer Prince. The number of overdoses caused by this drug has been rising for years, with hospitals seeing more emergency room visits, seizures caused by drug use, and overdose deaths.

The statistics on Fentanyl abuse are staggering. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reporting the number of deaths from synthetic opioid abuse increased 80% from 2013 to 2014. In Ohio, that number jumped to 500%.

These statistics are frightening. Our goal at Profound Treatment located in Los Angeles is to ensure that you don’t become another statistic. 

What is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. This  means that it is man-made, rather than found naturally. Opioids are normally prescribed to patients that require severe pain management, such as those recovering from surgery or cancer.

Fentanyl works by blocking pain receptors in the brain. It also increases the production of the hormone dopamine. This gives you feelings of relaxation and euphoria. 

Fentanyl abusers may smoke or even eat the opioid as well. Most alarmingly, medical professionals have seen a rise in “cutting” fentanyl with another drug, such as heroin or cocaine in order to intensify their effects.

This is extremely dangerous. Fentanyl is 50 times more powerful than heroin and almost 100 times more potent than morphine. According to a recent documentary, Death by Fentanyl, taking a dose of pure fentanyl just the size of 3 sugar crystals can kill an adult.

While fentanyl is prescribed for the relief of physical pain, many abusers, especially those who obtain the drug illegally, use it as a temporary release from emotional pain. 

Who is at risk for Fentanyl abuse?

Fentanyl doesn’t discriminate when it comes to whom it affects. We have seen mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers come into our facility because the powerful opiate has caused such great damage to their lives. 

There are certain factors that can affect one’s likelihood of developing addiction. Studies have shown that some people may have a genetic predisposition to becoming addicts. Others may find it hard to resist social pressures from friends and family who also use drugs. Sometimes, it can come down to psychological triggers or trauma that seek the relief of opiates. One or all  of these factors may lead to addiction. Regardless of the reason, sobriety can still be achieved. 

How does Fentanyl affect you?

Serious health problems caused by fentanyl abuse can appear in even a short amount of time.  Physically, you might notice that breathing becomes harder and more labored and that your immunity. Your body’s ability to fight off illness has been compromised. Stomach problems and other gastrointestinal issues can arise. General feeling of being tired and weak are common.

Fentanyl can cause severe heart damage. It works as a depressant, slowing down bodily functions, including those of your heart.  Prolonged opioid abuse may cause QT syndrome. This is a defect that slows the electric conduction of your heart. You don’t have to be using fentanyl for that long before complications like heart palpitations and arrhythmia to arise.

Most seriously, fentanyl can kill. As we learned from those earlier statistics,  it does so with alarming regularity.  Fentanyl affects the part of your brain that controls respiratory functions and can slow your breathing down to the point where it actually stops. If your brain goes without oxygen for extended periods of time, it can cause irreversible damage and even death.

The signs of a fentanyl overdose include clammy skin, seizures, severe drowsiness, low blood pressure, slowed heartbeat and respiratory reduction.

Fentanyl can also change who you are as a person. You may become depressed, anxious and paranoid, have personality changes, or suffer from hallucinations. It can affect your relationships with others, making you become more withdrawn and isolated from friends and family. When you abuse fentanyl, you learn very quickly that there is no “you” anymore, there is only “you on fentanyl.”

Understanding Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

Because fentanyl is such an incredibly strong and addictive drug, your body will experience powerful fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.  Depending on how the drug was administered, you may start to feel these symptoms within 12 hours after your last dose of fentanyl.  Patch users may not see symptoms until after the first 24 hours because it is an extended-release medication.

Below we have listed some of the more common symptoms reported. These symptoms can range from merely being annoying and uncomfortable to almost painful.

  • Fatigue: Feeling exhausted, both mentally and physically.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty asleep or staying asleep during withdrawal.
  • Sweating: Sweating more profusely than normal, especially at night.
  • Fever: A spike in body temperature is a common symptom.
  • Headache: Mild discomfort to intensive migraines.
  • Pupil Dilation: Sensitivity to sunlight.
  • Shivering: Internal temperature fluctuating, causing goosebumps at times.
  • Itchiness: Some may feel like the skin is crawling. This is a normal and usually subsides after a few days.

Additional Symptoms:

  • Yawning: Former fentanyl users report excessive yawning during the withdrawal process.
  • Nausea: Feelings of nausea or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea: Opiates tend to cause constipation, so diarrhea is very common when coming off the drug.
  • Muscle pain or cramps: It is normal to experience muscle pain once the drug has left your system.
  • Anxiety, Irritability, and Agitation: Former users reported feelings of anxiety and irritability once they are no longer on the drug.
  • Increased heart rate: Heart palpitations or an increased heart rate.
  • High blood pressure: Blood pressure tends to lower when on fentanyl due to the depressive activity in your central nervous system. Blood pressure may shoot up for a short period of time during withdrawal. Medications are available to counteract this under medical advice.
  • Depression: Feelings of depression, or suicide may occur. Opioids produce endorphins, which make you feel happy or euphoric. When you quit using fentanyl, your body has to produce natural occurring hormones on its own again. Feelings of suicide should never be ignored. If you have these feelings, please consult a medical professional.
  • Some experience severe symptoms such as cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, dehydration, and strokes. If you suspect you may be at risk for any of these issues, consult a medical professional immediately.

Ending Fentanyl abuse

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms will likely continue until you make the decision to end the abuse.  Finding sobriety after a fentanyl addiction and overcoming fentanyl withdrawal symptoms is no small task. Due to the drug being powerfully addictive, getting and staying sober can seem nearly impossible when done alone. We strongly recommend seeking assistance from a rehabilitation program such as  Profound Treatment located in Los Angeles, California.

Some may decide to quit fentanyl and overcome fentanyl withdrawal symptoms “cold turkey”. This means they quit using the drug entirely.  While this method can be successful,  you will most likely feel the effects of fentanyl withdrawal symptoms quickly and more severe than slowly stopping fentanyl use. We very rarely (if ever) recommend this method. 

Replacement therapy.

With this method, the user replaces fentanyl with a less powerful opioid such as Methadone or Suboxone. This method is typically used in detox centers. Once one tapers off the replacement drug, the only way to become truly “clean” is to fully end all drug use.

Many experts recommend a fentanyl detoxification process. This helps someone with an addiction gradually come off of the drug under the watchful eye of medical professionals. This method helps minimize the uncomfortable and painful fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.

Detox can be achieved in a variety of rehabilitation programs that involve around-the-clock physical and mental care to ensure the safety of all patients during this challenging time.

Fentanyl detoxification is also said to reduce the risk of relapse and end the user’s substance abuse once and for all. Detox, and most withdrawal symptoms, usually last around a week. 

During your recovery, you may battle the urge to use fentanyl many times. Take each day one at a time and you will see progress.

We can offer solutions.

Profound Treatment,Addiction rehabilitation center located in Los Angeles, California  can provide help throughout this entire process.

For more information on treating fentanyl addiction, visit our webpage or contact us at (800) 559-3496.


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