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Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms and Detoxification Process

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms and Detoxification Process

Fentanyl is an OPR (Opioid Pain Killer). The potency is about fifty to hundred times more than morphine. Fentanyl is also used to relieve the pain of surgery and the excruciating pain associated with the cancer. The drug is widely abused by the people due to an intense euphoria produced by it. The user easily starts to build the tolerance and then the addiction. The physical and psychologically dependency develops with the continuous abuse of Fentanyl. If the user doesn’t take the drug, many withdrawal symptoms start to appear within a short duration. A professional help is required to treat the Fentanyl addiction. The process of detoxification is carried out followed by other treatment options. Intense withdrawal symptoms also develop during the detoxification process. Various medications are given under proper supervision to lessen the withdrawal symptoms and make the process less painful for the person.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms:

Fentanyl has a high habit-forming potential. Even without having an addiction, the drug can develop the physical and psychological dependence. It means that the body will demand the drug in order to relieve the physical and physiological discomfort. The body becomes accustomed to the regular doses of the drug. It takes even less than a month to become dependent on Fentanyl. The larger doses of the drug are required once the tolerance to the same dose has developed. Any effort to quit the drug or missing the habitual routine can produce a set of withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms of withdrawal are divided into the early and late phase.

Early symptoms:

  • Body aches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Watery eyes
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose

Late Symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Timeline for Fentanyl Withdrawal:

Fentanyl alters the normal brain processes so, in the absence of the drug, various withdrawal symptoms start to appear. The withdrawal symptoms begin few hours after the last dose of the drug and can continue up to many weeks.

  • First 6-8 hours: The withdrawal symptoms start to appear within six to eight hours of the last use of the drug. Initially, the symptoms are just like the flu; Chills, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and diarrhea. Excessive fatigue also occurs during this duration.
  • The first week: The intensity of withdrawal symptoms rises within two or three days. The person experiences heavy sweating, appetite loss, nausea and vomiting, and severe mood swings. Insomnia also sets in and the person feels extreme irritability due to the lack of sleep. Insomnia usually continues for about seven to eight days. Fever is also a very common withdrawal symptom during this period.
  • 2nd– 4th week: The withdrawal symptoms start to decrease in intensity. Restlessness, irritability, and fever still persist but become reduced by the fifth or sixth week. The episodes of anxiety, depression, and isolation are still very common during second to the fourth week.

Post-acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS): It is a very usual phenomenon experienced by the abusers of Fentanyl. The withdrawal symptoms can return many days after the withdrawal period gets over. Bouts of pain and irritability can happen many months later but usually, continue for a few weeks duration.

Treatments Used to Ease Withdrawal Symptoms:

Some of the methods to reduce the painful period of Fentanyl detoxification include:

Proper Hydration: There is often an excessive water loss that occurs due to vomiting or diarrhea. An immediate step should be taken to treat the dehydration. Water intake should be increased tremendously. Along with it, vomiting and diarrhea should also be treated. Electrolyte balance also gets disturbed which can bring serious consequences. A special attention should be given for correcting the electrolyte imbalances by giving the proper electrolyte solutions to the patient.

Exercise: The exercise is very important for maintaining a healthy heart and body. It also keeps the stress levels down by reducing the release of stress hormones so anxiety and depression can be minimized with the help of regular exercise to quite an extent.

Medications: The doctors prescribe certain medicines that help in the management of withdrawal symptoms. The common medicines for treating the withdrawal symptoms include

  • Methadone:It is a famous drug used for the treatment of opioid addiction. It assists in detoxification process to alleviate the cravings. When the therapy is used for the long-term, the dose must be tapered off slowly over the period of months.
  • Buprenorphine:It comes with a brand name ‘Subtex’. The drug also helps to make the detoxification process easy by decreasing the withdrawal symptoms. It is also used for prolonged durations.
  • Clonidine: It is used to treat the physical and psychological signs associated with the Fentanyl withdrawal. Body aches, anxiety, and irritation are some of the signs that Clonidine works effectively against to lessen their severity.
  • Naltrexone: This is a useful medicine to prevent the relapse. The mechanism of action includes reversal of the narcotic effects of the drug. It is often used in emergency medicine as a life-saving method.

Cold Turkey: The sudden withdrawal of Fentanyl can be very uncomfortable for the patient and the person may not be able to cope with the withdrawal symptoms. A gradual tapering of the dose is the preferred method.

Detoxification Process:

It is the process of eliminating the drug from the body. The process of detoxification should be taken under a proper medical supervision. Medications are also prescribed by the doctors to ease the withdrawal symptoms. People having a severe Fentanyl addiction must start the process by tapering off the doses. This allows the body to gradually adjust itself to work with the lower Fentanyl doses. It will help to reduce the cravings as well as the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. The doctor can also prescribe the other less potent painkillers like tramadol or hydrocodone to decrease the withdrawal symptoms.