If you’ve ever wondered how long fentanyl stays in your system, you first have to consider the type of fentanyl in question. Understanding the differences between pharmaceutical grade and illicit fentanyl, as well as their analogues, can mean the difference between life and death.
The increasing presence of illicit fentanyl and its fatal consequences in our society is clearly evident. Unfortunately, because reports continue to merge data for this drug’s pharmaceutical and illegal forms, there is much public confusion. When reviewing statistics, it is crucial to understand that the majority of overdose deaths are attributed to illicit fentanyl derivatives.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid medication prescribed for patients struggling with severe pain. Due to its potency, as well as the fact that Fentanyl is approximately 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine, it is only recommended for patients with an established tolerance to opioids. Over the past 40 years, there have been several pharmaceutical formulations of this painkiller, including Sublimaze and Duragesic patch. Various forms have also been available to the public, including dissolving tablets, films, sprays, and a lollipop lozenge for breakthrough pain.
Street fentanyl has been illegally chemically altered to create new and dangerous products, which increases the difficulty of correct identification. Some of these drugs are incredibly potent, escalating the potential for a fatal overdose.
Unless you purchase medications from a legitimate pharmacy, there is no way to know if the medication is fake or legitimate. Furthermore, there’s no way to know the strength of the drug or how your body will react, which is especially dangerous due to fentanyl’s potency.
“Every day an average of 136 people die of an opioid overdose in the USA.”
Many drug tests, including urine, hair, and blood tests, can detect fentanyl. However, keep in mind that illicit forms of fentanyl can be detected in the system for much longer, and tests are evolving to recognize new analogues. For example, most saliva tests cannot consistently detect these drug metabolites, whereas hair tests can often detect a specific drug for up to 3 months.
Several factors can affect how long fentanyl remains in someone’s system, and timelines are not always accurate. The most significant element determining how long fentanyl remains in a person’s system is the type of analogue used, while the other is method of administration.
As previously mentioned, fentanyl can be administered in several different ways, with each method of administration resulting in a different “half-life.” A half-life is the length of time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from a person’s system. Once half the drug is eliminated, the majority of its intoxicating effects have worn off.
Fentanyl has been responsible for thousands of opioid overdose deaths in the United States every year. Although provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics indicate an estimated 100,306 drug overdose deaths in the US during 12 months ending in April 2021, we believe this is a fraction of the actual number for the entire year 2021.
To fully comprehend how long fentanyl can remain in the body, we must first have a clear understanding of the drug itself, as well as how it affects users.
Fentanyl is an opioid drug that causes a suppression of the central nervous system (CNS) functions, including breathing, heart rate, and body temperature regulation. The drug binds to opioid receptors, causing an increase in the chemical dopamine, which results in sedation, relaxation, and pleasure. For this reason, fentanyl has a high rate of addiction.
Engaging in extended opioid use results in the brain adjusting to the newfound source of pleasurable chemicals, while ceasing production of them on its own. When fentanyl is removed from the equation, the brain and body are left to readjust, leading to the negative symptoms of withdrawal.
The length and severity of withdrawal vary from one individual to the next, but there are symptoms common to everyone. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and, while they can be extremely uncomfortable, they are not generally life-threatening.
Fentanyl has a high risk of dependence, even if prescribed. Abrupt cessation of taking fentanyl will likely result in withdrawal symptoms, which can be excruciating.
Withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Withdrawal can begin six to 30 hours after your last dose and last for up to 10 days.
Consult your doctor if you plan to stop taking fentanyl. Dependence on fentanyl or other opiates is not a cause for shame. Tell someone you trust and seek support.
When coming off opioids like fentanyl, you might ask your doctor to prescribe specific medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Although outpatient oral medications may help, some people need inpatient programs with hospitalization, such as Waismann Treatment™.
Medically assisted detox refers to coming off a substance under the supervision of a team of licensed medical professionals. With Waismann Treatment, the medical team is led by a quadruple board-certified physician. Cardiologists, nurses, clinical staff, and therapists are also part of the treatment program.
Like diabetes and asthma, opioid dependence is a medical condition that can be medically reversed. Medical detoxification plays a tremendous role in providing patients with the stabilization and comfort to overcome an acute fentanyl withdrawal, safely and successfully.
Medical detoxification is the priority for most people seeking drug and alcohol treatment. While detox is not considered addiction treatment, those who successfully complete medical detox are more likely to adhere to, and participate in, psychotherapy and other mental health treatments.
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Waismann Method®, Opioid Treatment Specialist Rapid Opioid Detoxification Center at 1-800-423-2482.