Fentanyl Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

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Fentanyl withdrawal is a process that occurs when someone who is dependent discontinues use. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid closely resembling morphine but exponentially more potent, is as a prescription medication for managing severe pain. The use of illicit fentanyl is a growing concern in the United States.

This guide to withdrawing from fentanyl explores the following issues:

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  • How long does fentanyl withdrawal last?
  • What are the side effects of fentanyl withdrawal?
  • What is a typical fentanyl withdrawal timeline?
  • What helps with fentanyl withdrawal?
  • Can you die from fentanyl withdrawal?
  • How to avoid fentanyl withdrawal death by connecting with detoxification services and addiction treatment in Southern California.

What is Fentanyl Withdrawal?

Drug withdrawal is a complex physiological and psychological response that occurs when someone suddenly discontinues or significantly reduces their use of a substance to which they have developed dependence. This response is a consequence of the body’s attempt to regain equilibrium after the abrupt absence of the substance it has adapted to. Withdrawal occurs after the body has become reliant on the substance, triggering various changes in both brain function and overall physiology.

Withdrawal can manifest in two distinct forms:

  • Acute withdrawal
  • Protracted withdrawal (post-acute withdrawal)

Acute withdrawal refers to the initial presentation of symptoms when someone abruptly stops using a substance. These symptoms are often the opposite of the effects the substance produces. The duration of acute withdrawal may vary depending on the type of substance and the person’s history of use. The acute withdrawal period for substances like alcohol, opioids, marijuana, and stimulants can span from several days to a few weeks. The symptoms experienced during this phase can range from physical discomfort to psychological distress, including anxiety, depression, and agitation.

Protracted withdrawal, also known as PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), occurs when symptoms persist beyond the acute withdrawal phase or reappear after a certain period. This phase is less studied but can contribute to the risk of relapse, as it involves lingering psychological and emotional symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s recovery journey. 

an image of someone dealing with fentanyl withdrawal

Symptoms of Fentanyl Withdrawal

Physical and psychological fentanyl withdrawal symptoms present as the body adjusts to the absence of the drug. The severity and duration of these symptoms can vary depending on factors such as history of use, dosage, and overall health. Common symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal include:

  • Aches and pains in muscles or bones
  • Insomnia or poor sleep
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Irritability
  • Uncontrollable leg movements
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Teary eyes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

Psychological withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl may include irritability, depression, anxiety, and intense cravings for fentanyl.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline of fentanyl withdrawal can vary based on individual factors and the formulation of the drug. However, a general fentanyl withdrawal symptoms timeline is as follows:

  • Day 1: Mild withdrawal symptoms typically present.
  • Days 2 to 4: The most intense physical symptoms manifest during this period.
  • Days 5 to 8: Primary withdrawal symptoms should start to diminish around this time.
  • Several weeks or even months: Some physical and psychological symptoms may persist in the event of PAWS.

Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawal

Seeking professional help is crucial for managing fentanyl withdrawal effectively and safely. Treatment options include: 

  • Medical detox: Medically supervised detoxification is often the first step, especially for individuals with severe dependency. Medical professionals can provide medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and ensure a safer detox process.
  • Behavioral therapies: Therapeutic interventions like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) or contingency management), can help address the psychological aspects of withdrawal and addiction.
  • Support groups: Participating in support groups like NA (Narcotics Anonymous) can provide a supportive community and encouragement during the recovery process.
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment): MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, under medical supervision.
  • Aftercare planning: Developing a comprehensive aftercare plan is essential to prevent relapse and maintain long-term recovery. This can include ongoing therapy, counseling, and support groups.

Remember that everyone’s journey through fentanyl withdrawal is unique. Seek professional and personalized treatment to maximize the chances of a safe and successful detoxification and recovery.

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Get Treatment for Fentanyl Withdrawal at California Detox

While fentanyl addiction can be disruptive, we can help you move beyond opioid use disorder at California Detox in Laguna Beach, CA. We offer a broad selection of opioid detox and addiction treatment programs to suit the severity of your substance use disorder. 

Most people grappling with fentanyl addiction benefit from a supervised medical detox. Take advantage of continuous clinical and emotional care, as well as medications to streamline withdrawal at our luxury beachside rehab. Detox addresses the issue of physical dependence on fentanyl. After a week or so of detoxification, you can move directly into ongoing treatment. Our 30-day inpatient program provides a structured and supportive pathway to ongoing recovery.

Our approach to treating fentanyl addiction blends evidence-based interventions and holistic therapies that include: 

  • MAT: Employing approved medications to enhance recovery outcomes.
  • Group therapy: A supportive group environment for sharing and healing.
  • Individual therapy: One-on-one sessions tailored to personal needs.
  • Psychotherapies: Evidence-based therapies like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) to address emotional challenges.
  • Family therapy: Involvement of loved ones to strengthen support systems.
  • Holistic therapies: Incorporating holistic practices for holistic healing.
  • Aftercare: Ensuring continued support beyond the treatment period.

To take the first step towards your recovery journey, call admissions today at 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance and a supervised fentanyl detox.


Common signs of fentanyl withdrawal include intense cravings, anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dilated pupils.
While fentanyl withdrawal itself is not typically life-threatening, severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or complications from underlying health issues can pose risks, emphasizing the importance of medical supervision during withdrawal.


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