Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

Finding Freedom From Fentanyl

When most Americans think of drug abuse, they may think of cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, or other substances. In recent years, another drug called fentanyl has entered the conversation. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, produced both legally and illegally. It is used to treat extreme pain. Illegal fentanyl, however, can wreak havoc on entire communities. In 2019, over 36,000 people died of fentanyl overdose. Here, we will explore some common questions about fentanyl, such as:

  • How does fentanyl work?
  • Why is fentanyl so addictive?
  • Fentanyl addiction treatments.
  • How long does withdrawal last?

How Does Fentanyl Work?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is similar in many ways to morphine. It is often used for post-surgery patients. Usually Fentanyl is in a patch or a lozenge. Fentanyl is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Like other opioids, fentanyl binds to the neuro receptors of the brain that control pain and emotions. Immediate side effects of use include:

  • Extreme happiness or peace
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Sedation
  • Unconsciousness

Why Is Fentanyl So Addictive?

As a powerful synthetic opioid, fentanyl immediately affects the functioning of the brain. When a patient first uses an opioid, the brain sends out pleasure/reward signals like dopamine and serotonin. This is what causes the feelings of happiness. Over time, though, the opioid hijacks the brain, causing it to depend on the opioid to function. Instead of sending out pleasure signals for use, the brain starts to send out distress signals for lack of use, AKA withdrawal. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can begin within a few hours and include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe tremors or involuntary movements
  • Sleep problems
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Severe cravings

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

When patients begin experiencing withdrawal, they are generally diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD.) The severe withdrawal symptoms for fentanyl are at best uncomfortable, and at worst, deadly. In fact, fear of withdrawal is believed to keep many patients from seeking treatment. If left untreated, withdrawal can cause severe physical and mental anguish. Fortunately, there are treatment options available. Buprenorphine can be used to ease withdrawal symptoms. These medications bind to the same neuro receptors as fentanyl, but have far less risk of abuse. Naltrexone is a medication that blocks fentanyl from affecting the receptors, thereby lessening fentanyl’s effect.

If you are currently living with SUD from fentanyl and looking for treatment options, we can help. Programs like ours specialize in treating not only the condition itself, but also the root causes such as trauma. Our team can help you craft a care plan unique to your specific needs. Generally speaking, you will go through a medically supervised detox, followed by an outpatient treatment program.


Before long term treatment can begin, you will need time for your body to flush out the unwanted substance. This is detoxification, or detox. For your safety and comfort, you will be supervised by a team of medical professionals. Your care team may administer medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms while your body cleanses itself. This process generally lasts about 1-2 weeks for most patients. Our admissions specialists can help you find the detox option that is right for you.


You will be admitted either to our partial hospitalization (PHP) or intensive outpatient program (IOP) after you finish detox. You’ll meet regularly with doctors and psychiatrists. You will also be in individual and group therapy. Our trained therapists specialize in helping you identify use triggers and developing coping strategies. We also offer trauma informed care for patients who have experienced traumatic events in life. We treat co-occurring disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Our program offers flexible living arrangements while you are in treatment. Be sure to tell your admissions representative about your current living situation. We offer options for people who need residential care, as well as those who need to take care of family at night. The best recovery program is the one that helps you maintain sobriety and care for those who depend on you.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one is ready to take the first step, please contact us today. SUD is a medical condition, not a moral failure. We offer compassionate care with dignity and respect.