Understanding Fentanyl Detox and Withdrawal

Fentanyl is a highly potent and addictive substance that can take over one’s life in the blink of an eye. With any type of addiction, the first step is detoxification. However, quitting cold turkey can be extremely uncomfortable and frightening. Not only can the process be painful and lonely, but withdrawal symptoms can cause some to give up on the process. A trusted treatment center is crucial to ensure a safe fentanyl detox. At Birmingham Recovery Center, our team will provide a safe detox process and get you started on the road to recovery. 

What Is Fentanyl Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the process of cutting back or stopping the usage of a substance that the body has become dependent on. When a person suddenly stops using a substance, or they begin to cut back, they begin to experience what are called withdrawal symptoms.

Fentanyl is a type of synthetic opioid that is extremely potent and addictive. It is said to be similar to morphine but up to 100 times stronger. This makes the drug very addictive. In 2023, studies have shown that a majority of overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids have been caused by fentanyl. 

Detox is the process of cleansing your body from the substance thoroughly. Attempting to discontinue use of the drug can cause a highly uncomfortable and painful process. In a rehabilitation or detox center, medical and clinical professionals can provide a secure space for this detox to take place. 

While a medical facility will not lessen the discomfort of withdrawal, professionals can monitor the patient and ensure a few things. The first is that the person going through detox remains safe throughout the process. This means that they can monitor their vitals and keep them hydrated, among other things. The next is that the urge to relapse is not fulfilled. 

Fentanyl withdrawal can test a person’s limit. While it is not typically life-threatening, it can be very uncomfortable. Symptoms of withdrawal can appear quickly and can be intense. Here are a few symptoms of withdrawal that are generally associated with fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. 

  • Diarrhea and vomiting,
  • Increased heart rate, 
  • High blood pressure,
  • Irritability, mood swings, and anxiety.
  • Suicidal thoughts, 
  • Stomach and muscle cramps, 
  • Insomnia. 

The symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal can discourage a person from seeking help. However, getting on the road to recovery is the best thing to do for yourself. 

How Long Does Fentanyl Detox Take?

There is no real timeline for recovery. It all depends on individual circumstances and features. For some, they may not be successful at their first attempt. For others, one time is all it takes. There are also physical attributes that are involved in the detox timeline, as well as where a person chooses to detox. 

While it is not recommended, many people attempt to detox at home. Additionally, physical features and outside influences play a significant role in the detox process. The severity of withdrawal symptoms varies depending on a few factors. Here are some of the factors that affect the detox process. 

  • How long a person has used fentanyl,
  • The physical health of the individual, 
  • Gender, age, and genetics.

What each person is sure to expect during fentanyl detox is symptoms of withdrawal beginning six to twelve hours after last use. They can then expect those symptoms to intensify after 36 hours. Intense symptoms generally last one week or more, with the worst days being between days one and three. 

Completing detox does not mean a person has been cured of their addiction. Detox is only the first step of a lifelong journey to recovery. Most people will still need assistance after detox is completed. They have the option to enroll in various outpatient treatment programs. These programs offer therapy and other resources that help individuals stay on track and maintain their sobriety. 

Why Choosing Medical Fentanyl Detox Is a Better Option

Attempting to detox at home can be incredibly dangerous. Not only do medical professionals keep you accountable, but they also ensure your safety throughout the process. Detox can come with medical complications like high blood pressure and an increased heart rate, as noted in the withdrawal symptom list above. 

Medically assisted detox is beneficial for several reasons. Detox is not a cure for addiction. In fact, detox only cleanses the body of the substance. Detox has proven to be most effective when it is part of an extensive treatment plan. Medical fentanyl detox can be beneficial in the following ways. 

  • It can provide some comfort during an otherwise painful withdrawal process.
  • It reduces the risk of physical and mental complications.
  • It decreases the risk of relapse during withdrawal.
  • It reduces the risk of a potential overdose or death. 

Overall, choosing to detox in a secure environment can lead to better short-term and long-term outcomes. The symptoms of withdrawal can seem unbearable. It may cause a person to relapse to ease the discomfort or to overdose in the same efforts. Choosing a medical fentanyl detox is a better option for these reasons. 

Learn More About Detoxing From Fentanyl With Birmingham Recovery Center in Birmingham, AL

If you or a loved one has been affected by fentanyl addiction, Birmingham Recovery Center is here to help. With years of experience serving residents of Alabama, Birmingham Recovery Center is the trusted recovery center for residents across the state. We offer comprehensive treatment services for those who need them. If you are worried about paying for treatment, we will work with you and your insurance company to get you the help you need. 

At Birmingham Recovery Center, we have the expertise and resources to help you overcome your addiction. Our team of experienced experts is dedicated to helping individuals and their families find long-term recovery through evidence-based treatment plans and personalized care. For more information on any of our other offered services, reach out to us today! We are here to help you or your loved one regain control of your life and stay on the path to recovery. Addiction is a treatable condition. Let us help you achieve long-term recovery.


  • Ian Henyon, LPC

    Having worked in a variety of clinical settings since 2008, Ian brings well over a decade of treatment center experience to the leadership role at Birmingham Recovery Center. As Executive Director, he is responsible for all aspects of BRC’s operations and provision of services. Being firmly grounded in the notion of servant leadership, Ian is focused on establishing a supportive work environment as a foundation for providing superior clinical services to BRC’s clients. Ian combines his extensive knowledge of treating addiction and psychiatric illness with the recognition that addiction is a disorder of the brain, to ensure that all clients are treated with the highest levels of respect and compassion. Ian is a licensed professional counselor. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and he received a Master of Science degree from Prescott College.


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