Fentanyl Detox Facts
Fentanyl remains in an individuals system for up to 36 hours depending on the type of fentanyl delivery and fentanyl detox is vital to helping rid the body of this powerful painkiller. The amount of time it takes for 50% of a single dose to be eliminated by the body is referred to as a drug half-life. The half-life of fentanyl is between 2 and 8 hours. The changes that occur in the brain when fentanyl is taken regularly can reset the natural levels of certain brain chemicals. These changes will cause the body’s central nervous system to make adjustments to accommodate the influx of opioids, causing the neurotransmitters to become less responsive. As exposure to the drug continues, the brain will stop producing the chemicals needed for normal functions and individuals will begin to experience fentanyl detox symptoms. Drug detox from fentanyl should take place in a rehab center for addiction.
As the half-life of fentanyl within the bloodstream is reached, the first signs of fentanyl detoxification will become apparent. For some, the cravings for more of the drug are the initial sign of detox. There are emotional and physical detox symptoms that are widely experienced, but each individual will feel the intensity differently. This can depend on the level of fentanyl dependence and the dosages relied upon.
As the body begins to go through fentanyl detox, individuals may feel physical symptoms that make them feel as if they are fighting a bad flu. Fatigue might set in and they may feel physically weak. All the symptoms normally present when one has the body flu are felt, sometimes to an extreme. This can make one feel miserable and the temptation to begin using fentanyl again in order to curb these temptations can be very strong. Psychological detox symptoms can be more difficult to manage than the physical ones. While the exact nature of the fentanyl detox symptoms varies, the process the body goes through to purge the drug is the same.
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Fentanyl Detox Signs and Symptoms
The hold that fentanyl can have on an individual can be remarkably strong. Depending on the length of fentanyl abuse, the severity of psychological and physical symptoms can be surprising. Overall, the entire drug detoxification process can be taxing emotionally and individuals are advised to have a network of support in place before beginning any detox process. Because of the nature of fentanyl and its potency, medical supervision is always recommended to help limit the dangers associated with detox. Some of the more common detox symptoms are the following:
- Intense drug cravings
- Profuse sweating
- Chills and fever
- Stomach cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Runny nose and eyes
- Insomnia and wakefulness
- Extreme mood swings
- Overwhelming exhaustion
- Concentration and memory difficulties
- Bone and muscle pain
Fentanyl is a very powerful prescription opioid drug that is thought to be as much as 100 times as potent as heroin as reported by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in a 2016 study. Often prescribed for patients with severe pain issues such as cancers and debilitating diseases that other less powerful opioid drugs no longer manage. As with any opiate or synthetic opioid, extended use can lead quickly to fentanyl abuse and dependence. Because of fentanyl’s potency as compared to morphine, the detox symptoms can be more acute as fentanyl tolerance is very common.
A Belgian pharmaceutical company first developed fentanyl in 1960. In 1968 the drug was approved for use within the United States and became widely prescribed for severe pain management. Fentanyl is now found sold on the street and has become a major drug enforcement issue over the past decades. Often this already potent opioid is mixed with opiates such as heroin and stimulants such as cocaine. The drug alone and mixed with others is directly responsible for 20,000 deaths in 2016 within the United States alone as tracked by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Fentanyl can be administered in several different ways. Depending on the exact method, the dosages will vary. Fentanyl has more options designed for those in palliative care or dealing with long, debilitating illnesses that keep them from being mobile. Some of the more common types of fentanyl applications are the following:
This type of fentanyl is most often used for those undergoing surgical procedures that require anesthesia. When used in conjunction with anesthetics such as propofol, it can provide hypnotic effects that can help calm and sedate patients before and during stressful procedures. When used for sedation, fentanyl is often combined with benzodiazepines. Intravenous fentanyl is often used to treat the pain associated with late-stage cancers and chronic pain syndromes. Many will know fentanyl by brand names.
When used sublingually, the drug is quickly absorbed by the mucous membranes in the mouth and under the tongue. This means that the medication will have an almost immediate effect on pain. A common sublingual form of fentanyl is Abstral. This type of delivery is used for patients that need quick pain relief extreme pain.
Lozenges or Lollypops
For some patients the need for a slower release formula to address pain issues is preferable. While the fentanyl dissolves, individuals will gain relief fairly quickly and the lollypop will slowly dissolve. These lozenges work by two different types of absorption; through the soft mucous membranes in the mouth and cheeks, and through the digestive tract when swallowed. There are different brands of fentanyl lollypops in different dosages. These are commonly used to help individuals who have been taking opioids for long periods of time whose bodies no longer respond to the medications. When this happens something referred to as breakthrough pain occurs. Because of the way that the fentanyl is metabolized, these lozenges work well to address this type of pain.
When fentanyl is absorbed through the skin it is called transdermal. The ability to provide pain relief through a sticky patch has revolutionized pain control for many patients suffering from end-stage or terminal diseases that cause severe discomfort and pain. The dosages can vary widely from patient to patient, as each individual will absorb the medication at different rates. These patches provide long-term relief, much longer than other methods.
Fentanyl is also available in nasal sprays and inhalers.