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Article Summary

How To Stop Using Fentanyl

If you have been struggling with Fentanyl abuse, tolerance, dependence, or addiction, you might already have experiencing some of the devastating effects and consequences of using this powerful opioid.

In recent years, addiction to Fentanyl has become a major health crisis. Today, hundreds of people lose their lives as a result of overdoing on the drug. To ensure that you are not part of these statistics, it is essential that you learn how to stop using Fentanyl - which is where addiction treatment, detox, and rehabilitation come in.

In this guide, you will learn more about Fentanyl, why you need to stop using it, and some effective treatments for the addiction it causes. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Fentanyl

Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II controlled drug. It is a potent opioid that is synthetically manufactured for the treatment of severe pain in a variety of situations - such as after a serious accident or for post-surgical operations. Doctors also prescribe it for the management of chronic pain as well as an anesthetic for surgical procedures like heart surgery.

However, since Fentanyl produces euphoric effects, some people have started abusing it. Others also use it as a heroin replacement because the two drugs come with similar effects.

That said, Fentanyl is available in many different formats. The variety that is available to you might be partly to blame for its addictive qualities. Still, people abuse the drug in different ways - all of which lead to some negative and adverse side effects.

If you are looking for long term recovery from Fentanyl abuse and addiction, you may want to start with detox. It will treat most of the withdrawal symptoms you will start displaying after you quit the drug. After that, you can check into a therapy program to ensure your long term recovery.

Fentanyl History And Uses

As a synthetic opioid, Fentanyl was first produced in the 1960s. It is quite similar in - terms of effects - to morphine although can be fifty to a hundred times more potent. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) first approved it in the 90s for medical use in form of the Duragesic transdermal patch.

Today, Fentanyl is available in a variety of forms - including lozenges - although it is also administered intravenously in hospital settings. In these cases, Fentanyl is used as a prescription opioid to treat moderate to very severe pain as well as for managing post-operatic pain. The drug is also used as a treatment for patients suffering chronic pain, particularly when they have developed physical tolerance to other opioids.

This prescription form of Fentanyl is known by various names, including Sublimaze, Duragesic, and Actiq. However, most people who overdose on the drug do so as a result of taking Fentanyl that has been produced in illicit labs.

In these situations, the drug is sold on the street as a powder, substituted or mixed with heroin, as tablets that look like other less potent opioids, or even spiked on a blotted piece of paper. On the street, Fentanyl is known by various names. These include tango, murder 8, goodfella, TNT, apache, dance fever, and china girl.

Other forms of Fentanyl include:

  • Injectable liquid
  • Lozenges and Lollipops
  • Nasal spray
  • Soluble film strips
  • Sublingual dissolving tablets
  • Transdermal patches

Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl has been classified as a schedule II controlled substance. As such, this prescription opiate comes with a relatively high potential for addiction and abuse. It is also among the strongest opiates currently sold on the open market - and is often more potent than both morphine and heroin.

Since this drug works to deal with all the pain you might be experiencing and can produce a particularly powerful high, you can easily become addicted to it. Those who abuse it tend to do so while looking for the euphoria that the drug produces.

In some instances, you might start using this drug after a doctor prescribes it before you find yourself using more and more Fentanyl beyond the instructions in the prescription. At this point, you will be abusing the drug and may display the following signs and symptoms as a result:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty walking
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Itching
  • Labored breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Nausea
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Scratching
  • Shaking
  • Sleepiness
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

In fact, most of the people who eventually become addicted to Fentanyl are those who have received a prescription for it. Over time, they may start misusing it by taking more than was prescribed believing that the drug will prove more effective.

However, this is a false belief and it often poses a variety of risks - chief of which include addiction, overdose, and the potential for suffering withdrawal when you decide to quit Fentanyl. The CDC (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has also reported that 46 people die on a daily basis as a result of abusing opioids like Fentanyl.

The drug can additionally cause you to suffer from coma, a loss of pain sensation, and depressed breathing. When this happens, you will have no recourse but to check into an emergency room.

Fentanyl Side Effects

Some of the side effects that you are likely to experience as a result of abusing Fentanyl include, but are not limited to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness

On the other hand, you might also overdose as a result of taking more Fentanyl than your body can physically and psychologically handle. Some of the symptoms of such an overdose include:

  • Cold and clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint
  • Severe sleepiness
  • Slow and shallow breathing
  • Slow heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble talking and walking

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential that you seek immediate medical attention. This is because overdosing on Fentanyl can prove fatal, leading to a coma or sudden death.

Drug Testing For Fentanyl

But does this substance show up on a drug test? Essentially, Fentanyl is much more potent than most of the other opiates. However, it is not usually looked for in most standard drug tests. These tests are, instead, usually designed to detect if there are opioids in your system - particularly those that can metabolize into morphine.

However, Fentanyl does not metabolize into morphine. As such, a drug test might not detect it - unless the testing company decides to use a highly advanced drug test. When this happens, the drug might be detected through blood, saliva, hair, and urine tests.

In this case, Fentanyl can be detected in hair for 90 days, saliva for 1 to 3 days, blood for about 12 hours, and urine for 8 to 24 hours.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

This is one of the reasons why you might want to check into a rehabilitation, treatment, and detoxification facility when you decide to learn how to stop using Fentanyl. Since most Fentanyl patches contain dangerous narcotics, you need people with specialized knowledge, skills, and experience to safely withdraw from the drug.

Depending on the volume of Fentanyl in the patch or in any other form you took it in, withdrawal from this drug can be quite similar in terms of the symptoms you would display if you tried to stop using other opioids such as OxyContin. On the other hand, Fentanyl withdrawal often requires a treatment protocol quite similar to the ones that are used in methadone withdrawal.

When you are physically dependent on this drug, you may experience severe withdrawal if you decide to stop using it or when you lower your dose. This form of physical dependence occurs as a result of using Fentanyl regularly or by becoming addicted to it.

The withdrawal symptoms you will display at this point tend to vary from one person to the next. However, the most common include, but are not limited to:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Gastrointestinal distress, including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and nausea
  • Goose bumps
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Muscle spasms, or kicking
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Rapid pulse rate
  • Runny nose
  • Tearing
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Yawning

Although these symptoms tend to be extremely uncomfortable, Fentanyl withdrawal is not always life threatening. Still, you will require medical supervision and detox to manage this difficult period of time in your life.

But exactly how long will these symptoms last? Essentially, you may start experiencing withdrawal 3 to 5 hours after you stop using Fentanyl. On the other hand, the most intense withdrawal symptoms will occur within the first 8 to 12 hours after you quit the drug. However, these symptoms may start subsiding in 4 to 5 days, especially if you have not been using any other addictive and intoxicating substances.

If you combined Fentanyl with heroin, your withdrawal may last longer - typically as long as 7 to 10 days.

Why Quit Fentanyl?

But why should you take the time to learn how to stop using Fentanyl and apply the lessons you adopted? Essentially, Fentanyl abuse and addiction often leads to a variety of severe and - at times - life threatening emotional, physical, and psychological consequences.

The only way you can reverse these effects and stop them altogether is by quitting. When you stop taking the drug, you will also be able to enjoy fulsome health and well-being.

The other benefits that you stand to gain when you quit this intoxicating substance include:

a) Prevent Overdose

As mentioned above, Fentanyl can be close to 100 times as potent as morphine. As such, overdosing on it is one of the major risks that people who abuse this drug face. In fact, overdosing can cause sudden respiratory depression which may lead to death.

b) Improved Health

Fentanyl causes a variety of health problems. More particularly, abusing opioids like it can lead to injuries, accidents, constipation, sexual dysfunction, depression, problems with vision, and malnutrition. When you inject opioids, you can also increase your risk of acquiring communicable diseases like bacterial infections, Hepatitis, and HIV.

c) Avoid Legal Problems

If you are addicted to Fentanyl, you may find yourself resorting to crime to support your habit. When this happens, you will put yourself in physical danger and might even have to confront law enforcement officials.

d) Improved Relationships

If you are addicted to this drug, you may become so preoccupied with looking for and using the drug - as well as recovering from its use. This means that you will stand spending less time with your loved ones.

When you quit Fentanyl, therefore, you may finally be able to start repairing any damage that the drug did to your relationships. Similarly, you will also resume spending more time with your family, friends, and significant others.

e) Improved Financial Health

Quitting this substance will enable you save money. This is because Fentanyl habit is quite expensive. As you start building tolerance to the drug, you will have to continue maintaining a steady supply of it to ensure that you do not suffer withdrawal.

Fentanyl Addiction Treatment

Your need for treatment will vary largely based on the severity of your addiction, how long you have been using Fentanyl, and your overall state of psychological and physical health and wellbeing.

Today, medical supervision and detoxification is highly recommended for people who are trying to stop using opioids like Fentanyl. This is because trying to quit on your own - cold turkey quitting - might prove to be risky and difficult.

In particular, you might end up having to content with several severe and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Your Fentanyl withdrawal might be so overwhelming that you will soon relapse.

Working with trained and qualified healthcare providers may minimize these withdrawal symptoms. It will also ensure that you have the right quality and level of healthcare based on your particular needs, wants, and preferences.

That said, there are many different kinds of recovery and rehabilitation programs used to treat Fentanyl addiction. These include, but are not limited to:

1. 12 Step Programs

Twelve step programs - such as NA (Narcotics Anonymous) are designed to provide a recovery program as well as peer support. You may even get help from a designated sponsor to ensure that you do not relapse. All these programs require that you abstain from Fentanyl and emphasize your powerlessness over the addiction.

You can also sign up for a non-twelve step program, such as the SMART Recovery option. They work well for those who are looking for a suitable alternative to the Narcotics Anonymous model of dealing with Fentanyl addiction.

2. Inpatient Treatment

When you check into a residential or inpatient rehabilitation facility, you will benefit from the medically supervised detoxification program, as well as group and individual therapy provided in these settings.

Typically, you will live with other Fentanyl addicts at the facility over the entire duration of your treatment. This might last anywhere between 28 and 90 days - or even longer - depending on how long it takes for you to completely kick the habit.

Most inpatient rehab facilities also provide medical care when and as needed. They are also equipped to treat any co-occurring substance abuse and mental health conditions you might also be dealing with at the same time that you are trying to fight your Fentanyl addiction.

3. Opioid Treatment Programs

Commonly abbreviated as OTP, opioid treatment programs will provide MAT (medication assisted treatment) for people who are addicted to opioids like Fentanyl. All of these programs are officially certified and accredited by SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).

As such, they should be able to provide you with a wide variety of services, each of which is designed to deal with specific parts of your Fentanyl addiction. Eventually, the OTP will help you prevent or reduce your use of this particular type of opioids.

4. Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment also works for Fentanyl addiction. It is typically offered part-time and might come with both group and individual counseling. This treatment type is advantageous in the sense that it is cheaper than inpatient rehab and will allow you to continue living at home while you undergo treatment for your substance use disorder.

This is one of the best options for people who are not too severely addicted to Fentanyl and who enjoy a relatively stable support system back home. You can also sign up for outpatient treatment while making the transition between living at home and checking out of an inpatient rehab facility.

5. Aftercare

Aftercare refers to the support or treatment that occurs after you have left a more formal addiction treatment program, such as an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation setting. It works because most Fentanyl recovering addicts will still struggle after they start transitioning back to their normal day to day lives - a point in time where the risk of relapse is quite high.

Undergoing aftercare may help you to get all the support you need in dealing with some of the issues that are likely to start cropping up while you are in recovery. You will also have access to the support provided by a community of former drug users - and addiction treatment experts and professionals. This means that you can reach out to the people in your support groups if you believe that you are about to relapse.

Some of the common types of aftercare for Fentanyl addiction include, but are not limited to:

  • 12 step meetings
  • Drug-free housing
  • Group therapy
  • Many other support groups, which work both online and in person
  • Non-12-step meetings
  • One on one therapy with a social worker or licensed therapist
  • Sober living arrangements

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Otherwise referred to as medication assisted therapy, MAT is sometimes used to help Fentanyl addicts withdraw from the drug. In this case, your therapist might prescribe opioid-replacement medications before gradually reducing your dose of the drug over a given time period. Alternatively, you might be kept on a maintenance dosage of the treatment drug.

Medication assisted treatment combines behavioral therapies, counseling, and pharmaceutical intervention. As such, it should only be carried out under the express supervision and monitoring of a trained and qualified physician, medical professional, or addiction treatment expert.

Some of the medications that are commonly used in MAT for Fentanyl addiction and withdrawal include:

a) Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. You can use it to help reduce your cravings for Fentanyl and the withdrawal symptoms you are likely to experience when you stop using this drug.

Buprenorphine is also available in the form of Suboxone, which is a combination of it and naloxone. Your doctor must be SAMHSA-certified to prescribe buprenorphine for Fentanyl withdrawal and treatment.

b) Clonidine

Clonidine is primarily used for treating high blood pressure. However, after years of research, it was found to also be effective as a Fentanyl antidote that works to heal some of the symptoms of withdrawing from Fentanyl.

That said, Clonidine might not prove useful in the treatment of the muscle aches, cravings, and insomnia you might experience when you are suffering from acute opioid withdrawal.

c) Methadone

Methadone, on the other hand, is a long acting opioid agonist. It also works effectively against the cravings and withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting Fentanyl. Today, you can only get this drug at a clinic that is regulated by SAMHSA, meaning that you might have to travel to get methadone.

d) Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. It works by blocking the effects of Fentanyl without also causing euphoria.

Tips For Quitting Fentanyl

There are many different things you can do to help you learn how to stop using Fentanyl. Consider the following tips and tricks the next time you decide to give up this drug once and for all:

a) Get Professional Help

Trying to quit Fentanyl on your own can prove to be so difficult that you may eventually relapse. This is why it is highly recommended that you look for a treatment center that provides Fentanyl detoxification, therapy, and rehabilitation. Alternatively - or additionally - you can also attend 12 step and non-12 step meetings to deal with your addiction.

b) Identify Triggers

Triggers are the things, places, situations, environments, and people that compel you to want to start using intoxicating substances like Fentanyl. You should, therefore, work with a family member, friend, or therapist to develop lists of all your triggers.

After that, it would also help if you were able to formulate plans and counterplans on how you are going to cope with those that are unavoidable and avoid those you can stay without.

c) Maintain Positivity

You might also benefit by staying positive and learning to take your Fentanyl stoppage a day at a time. Remember, recovery tends to take time and might not be the smoothest journey you will take.

In case you succumb and relapse, ensure that you do not beat yourself up. Instead, remember that this is one of the normal occurrences that everyone who is trying to overcome their Fentanyl abuse syndrome has to contend with.

If possible, you might want to keep an unique like of empowering and motivational quotes that you can refer to at any time. These quotes may help to keep you going, especially when the going gets tough.

Last but not least, you should rely on each and every person in your support system. These people understand and love you, and might be in the best position to hold you accountable to your promise to give up Fentanyl.

d) Change Your Company

If you normally hang out with people who use drugs and intoxicating substances, it is highly likely that they might be one of the reasons why you will have a hard time quitting Fentanyl.

You might, therefore, want to change the people you spend most of your time with - and start hanging out more with friends and family who do not take drugs, as well as other people who are recovering from addiction.

e) Take Good Care of Yourself

In general, the better you are feeling about yourself, the lower the chances that you will relapse. Therefore, you should ensure that you eat healthy, exercise, get enough sleep, and do the things that you love whenever you have free time.

f) Understand Your Addiction

At the end of the day, undergoing Fentanyl addiction detox, rehab, and treatment will not work unless you have a full understanding of your addiction - as well as why you became hooked to this drug in the first place.

Therefore, you might want to go for therapy and work with your counselor/therapist to find out all the reasons why you originally started using this Fentanyl. At the same time, it would help if you could get treatment for all co-occurring mental health problems you might be suffering, including but not limited to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, and depression.

By so doing, you should be able to effectively fight your Fentanyl addiction and ensure that you do not relapse after undergoing full treatment and rehabilitation.

Helping Fentanyl Addicts Quit

If you know someone within your immediate social circle who is addicted to this drug, there are some things you should do - and not do - while approaching them. Consider the following:

1. Do

  • Accept that it is up to them to finally agree that they need help
  • Approach them when they are sober
  • Expect that they may deny that they have a problem with Fentanyl
  • Express your genuine concern for their health and general wellbeing
  • Make a list of all viable treatment options and present them to the addict in case they decide that they are interested in getting the help they need for their addiction
  • Only approach them when you are composed and calm
  • Point to the specific incidents and situations where their addiction has affect you and others
  • Prepare yourself to try over and over again until they agree to get help
  • Speak to them from a position of concern and compassion

2. Don'ts

  • Blame them for their addiction
  • Enable them by giving them money, allowing them to use drugs at home, or covering for them
  • Pretend that everything is okay when there is a problem with Fentanyl

Quitting Fentanyl Cold Turkey

Trying to stop using Fentanyl on your own can prove more difficult than you anticipated. Eventually, you may suffer such intense withdrawal symptoms that you will relapse to make them go away.

Although quitting this drug cold turkey might not be medically dangerous, therefore, the withdrawal symptoms you suffer might cause many other issues, including but not limited to:

a) Cravings and Relapse

The withdrawal symptoms that come with quitting Fentanyl tend to be quite uncomfortable. They are also accompanied by intense cravings to start using the drug if only to relieve these symptoms.

b) Medical Complications

Withdrawing from this drug can also be accompanied by a variety of medical complications, including diarrhea and dehydration. These conditions can cause electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.

c) Mental Health Problems

You may also become depressed when you decide to quit Fentanyl cold turkey. Depression might be accompanied by thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

d) Overdose

After detoxing from Fentanyl for some time, you might lower your tolerance to it. This will most likely lead to an overdose when you decide to start taking the drug again at the normal dose, a situation that could lead to death.

The best solution, therefore, is medically supervised detoxification at a detox and treatment center. You can also sign up for an inpatient recovery program to increase comfort, ensure safety, and provide you with the solid start you need on you road to full recovery and sobriety.

Conclusion

Fentanyl is an opioid painkiller that works to deal with pain among cancer patients and those suffering excruciating pain. Its effects are quite similar to those of morphine but much more potent and fatal.

The drug is also quite addictive, meaning that you are likely to suffer withdrawal when you decide to stop using it abruptly, or when you gradually taper off it. This is why it is highly recommended that you get medical assistance when you decide to quit.

Overall, there are many different treatment programs and options for people looking for information on how to stop using Fentanyl. The best among these is inpatient treatment, although you can also go for outpatient rehab, therapy, and medication assisted treatment. The important thing is that you put the condition under control before it continues affecting your life, health, and wellness in negative ways.

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