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What Is Fentanyl Detox?
Fentanyl detox is the first step in recovery from fentanyl addiction. Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid painkiller that is typically prescribed to treat patients that are suffering from chronic pain and/or have developed a tolerance to other pain medications. More recently, Fentanyl has also been used in smaller doses to help manage pain in cancer patients. It can be administered in a variety of ways, including: orally as a lozenge, spray, or tablet; intravenously as a nasal spray; and transdermally as a patch. Fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the pain a person feels, and inducing dopamine. Fentanyl is about 50-100 times more powerful than Morphine and people begin to feel relief within minutes of being administered the drug.
Due to its fast-acting and potent properties, Fentanyl has become a highly abused medication. Those that take Fentanyl at higher doses than prescribed or for illicit purposes experience an intense Heroin-like high. It is extremely easy to develop a dependency on or become addicted to Fentanyl, and many users begin mixing it with other drugs to intensify and/or prolong their high. Additionally, Fentanyl is becoming progressively more common as it is being laced with other substances like Heroin and Cocaine unbeknownst to the consumer, increasing chances of overdose.
When a person becomes addicted to Fentanyl, the first step in recovery is detox, or detoxification. Detox is used to safely rid the body of the opioid drug so that a user may proceed to the next stage of addiction treatment. The goal of Fentanyl detox is to minimize the impacts of withdrawal and reduce possible relapse rates.
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The Process of Fentanyl Detox
Fentanyl detox is typically conducted by the tapered-off or weaning method, i.e. progressively reducing doses of the drug over the course of a few weeks until eventually use stops completely. Fentanyl detox should always be conducted under medical supervision, as the withdrawal symptoms produced by discontinued use are debilitating, extremely uncomfortable, and likely to lead to relapse. In rare circumstances, they are potentially even dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms occur because of the chemical imbalance in the former user’s brain; Fentanyl is no longer supplying surges of dopamine and serotonin, so the brain must adapt and begin normal production of those compounds on its own naturally.
Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 12-30 hours after the last dose and can last up to a few weeks.
Stages of Fentanyl Detox
Symptoms of withdrawal can vary based on an individual’s dependency and tolerance for Fentanyl, but typically follows the same timeline of occurrence in 3 basic stages: early, peak, and long-term.
Minor withdrawal symptoms typically appear within 12-30 hours after the final dose of Fentanyl. This first stage lasts 1-2 days and symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
This stage occurs on days 2-5 and is when symptoms are characteristically the worst. Relapse rates are highest during this period. 72 hours after the last dose of Fentanyl is generally when recovering users experience the harshest of withdrawal side-effects, including:
- Muscle pain and weakness
- Mood swings
- Excessive sweating
- Suicidal thoughts
Physical symptoms of withdrawal begin to subside after the first week of disuse, but psychological symptoms can continue upwards of a few weeks to a month, which may include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Mood instability
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What Are My Options for Fentanyl Detox?
Medically supervised detox is the safest way to begin to recover from a Fentanyl addiction. Medical support is essential in reducing chance of relapse as it can help mitigate withdrawal side effects. For example, doctors can administer anti-depressant drugs to help manage negative psychological withdrawal effects like depression and opioid addiction drugs like Naltrexone to help reduce cravings.
If you are struggling with a Fentanyl addiction, there are multiple inpatient and outpatient treatment plans available to you. Don’t wait; reach out to a dedicated treatment provider and get the help you need today.
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