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Fentanyl Detox & Rehab

    Fentanyl Detox & Rehab

    Fentanyl is a substance that binds to opioid receptors to increase dopamine levels.

    When dopamine increases, a person experiences a state of relaxation and pain relief. They no longer perceive as much suffering and feel euphoric.

    For medical purposes, Fentanyl can be used to manage pain during surgery and treat the pain of people who are physically tolerant to other opiates, because it is 100 times more potent than morphine.

    Despite the potency, the effect usually only lasts thirty to ninety minutes.

    Why Is Fentanyl Addictive?

    Fentanyl is a highly addictive drug just like other opiates such as morphine and heroin, but because it is so much more powerful, it can be even more addictive and dangerous.

    Whether prescribed by a doctor or taken for recreational purposes, tolerance can be built up fairly fast so than people take higher doses.

    With higher doses, the risks for dependence and addiction increase significantly.

    However, even with lower doses, extended use can lead to addiction and dependency, so it is only recommended that a person use Fentanyl when prescribed by a doctor for a short period of time.

    Physical Signs of Fentanyl Addiction

    If you are concerned someone you love is misusing Fentanyl, here are some signs & symptoms to look out for:

    • Slow breathing
    • Seizures
    • Headaches
    • Dizziness
    • Blurred vision
    • Constipation
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Itching
    • Euphoria
    • Mellowness
    • Drowsiness

    Behavioural Symptoms of Fentanyl Addiction:

    • Lack of control: This is when someone takes larger amounts over a more extended period than they intended.
    • Inability to cut back: Often people with addictions want to cut back on use, but find themselves unable to do so.
    • Time: When people are addicted to the Fentanyl, they are willing to devote lots of time to getting and using the drug.
    • Cravings: People addicted to Fentanyl may find themselves having intense urges to use.
    • Lack of responsibility and interest: A person with an addiction will prioritize the drug over obligations and other fun or recreational activities.
    • Danger: Someone with an addiction will continue to use Fentanyl even past the point of danger.
    • Tolerance: People with addictions will develop tolerance and therefore have to keep increasing their dosage.
    • Withdrawal: When a person is unable to take a drug that they are addicted to, they will experience physical and/or emotional withdrawal.

    Dangers of Addiction

    One of the biggest dangers of Fentanyl is that you quickly build a tolerance and have to increase your dosage continuously. Fentanyl is an extremely potent drug, so as you increase your dosage, the chance of death via overdose is very high.

    Even if the drug use does not result in death, it can hinder a person’s ability to make good judgments, good decisions, increases a person’s chance to develop mental health issues, can worsen pre-existing conditions, and result in organ exhaustion and damage.

    What is a Fentanyl Detox?

    When someone wants to recover from Fentanyl addiction or dependency, the first step is detox. Detox is a way to safely get rid of all the Fentanyl that may be left in a person’s system. Detoxing can be extremely hard, but the goal is to minimize withdrawal and reduce the rate of relapse.

    Medical detox is what most people will undergo at a treatment centre. During medical detox, a person will have 24/7 care from doctors and trained professionals.

    The patient’s vital signs are monitored, and various medications are used to help the patient cope with both the physical and emotional symptoms. Because Fentanyl is so powerful, medical detox is usually the best course.


    For an inpatient program, a person lives at a rehab centre or other care facility. This can be really beneficial to people trying to recover from addiction because there is 24/7 care, and the patient does not have to worry about environmental distractions and temptations; they can focus solely on their recovery.

    When completing an outpatient program, a person lives at home but goes to a treatment centre of some sort for at least several hours a day, several days a week. During this time, a person can continue to do other things and work or go to school.

    Cold Turkey or Weaning

    Cold turkey is when a person stops taking a drug, in this case, Fentanyl, all at once. When someone with a severe addiction does this, they will generally experience some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are not only hard to deal with but can be dangerous or lead to relapse.

    For people with severe addictions and dependencies, doctors will sometimes recommend weaning off of medication instead. This must be done under the instruction of a medical professional.

    Usually, a doctor will first switch you to a different, less harmful opioid and then slowly decrease the amount you receive until you can get off of it completely. This way, a person can detox slowly without as many withdrawal symptoms.

    Withdrawal Symptoms

    When going through Fentanyl withdrawal, a person may experience the following:

    • Yawning
    • Sweating
    • Restlessness
    • Runny nose
    • Chills
    • Backache
    • Stomach cramps
    • Muscle and joint pain
    • Muscle weakness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • High heart rate
    • Hypertension
    • Fast breathing
    • Insomnia
    • Pupil dilation
    • Anxiety

    Medications Used to Treat Fentanyl Withdrawal

    Because Fentanyl is so powerful, often doctors will recommend that a patient use a different opioid while they detox.

    Morphine and methadone are two slower acting opioids that will allow the body to adjust to the lack of Fentanyl without such severe and sometimes dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

    After a patient makes the switch, the dosage of the substitution drug will slowly decrease until the person is drug-free.

    Detox Protocol

    A detox protocol is basically the plan designed to help a patient detox as comfortably and as safely as possible. Everyone involved in the process will be told about and will agree to the plan.

    Because everyone’s addiction is different, everyone’s detox protocol will be different. Within the protocol, doctors will plan out medications, procedures, vitamins, and nutritional substances.

    Detox Timeline

    Of course, the timeline of detox and withdrawal will vary depending on a person’s detox protocol and what their addiction was like.

    Here is a general guideline for the process:

    • Hours 8-30: Mild symptoms will begin
    • Hours 36-72: This is when the worst symptoms will occur and feel the most intense
    • Days 5-8: The primary withdrawal symptoms should end here, and the patient should begin to feel more normal. There are some patients that will feel withdrawal feelings for up to a few weeks
    • Weeks to months later: For weeks to months, some physical symptoms will remain, but psychological symptoms can persist for a long time after detox. This is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome

    Fentanyl Overdose

    The risk of overdose with Fentanyl is extremely high for several reasons. First, because it is such a powerful drug, it is easy to overdose. Second, when Fentanyl is bought and sold on the streets, it is completely unregulated and therefore, may not be pure Fentanyl.

    Beyond that, some people will purposely combine it with drugs like heroin to increase the effect. When substances are combined on accident or on purpose, the risk of overdose is significantly higher.

    When taking prescribed Fentanyl, here are some tips to avoid accidental overdose. Of course, if you are not prescribed Fentanyl by a doctor, the only way to avoid an overdose is to abstain from using the drug.

    Do not take more than the prescribed amount, even if you feel as if it is not working any more. If you believe you are developing a tolerance, talk to your doctor

    If taking Fentanyl via patch, remove an existing patch before applying a new one and keep the patch away from a heat source.
    Overdoses must be treated immediately with naloxone.

    Treatment Options For Fentanyl Addiction

    Coping Methods for Detox

    Drink lots of water. When going through withdrawal, people lose a lot of fluid through sweat and other bodily responses, so it is important to drink lots of water and stay hydrated. Doctors will often recommend waters and fluids with high levels of electrolytes.

    People in withdrawal will usually lack certain nutrients, so it is important to make sure you eat well. Usually, your doctor can help plan your diet during detox, but you should be eating foods that are high in calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

    Take a hot bath. During detox, people often complain of muscle aches and other body pains, so taking a hot bath with Epsom salts can help soothe those pains. Do keep in mind that if you are experiencing fever as well, you should not take a hot bath.

    Exercise. Though many people can not imagine exercising when going through withdrawal, if the symptoms are minor enough, moderate exercise can help release endorphins that make a person feel better.

    Distraction. When going through withdrawal, try watching a movie, reading a book, or spending time with people to distract yourself from the symptoms.

    Life After Detox

    After detox, the process is not over. For people who want to reduce the risk of relapse, they should continue in a treatment program or therapy of some sort. There are studies that have shown that people who stay in a treatment program for longer are exponentially more likely to stay off of Fentanyl.

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