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Medical Detox for Fentanyl

Detox for fentanyl addiction is a critical first step toward recovery. Finding the right treatment center can set a person up for long-term success in recovery.

Learn more about detox for fentanyl, what to expect during medical detoxification, and how to get help for fentanyl addiction.

What Is Fentanyl Detox?

Fentanyl detox programs are often the first stage of treatment for addiction, as it used to help manage withdrawal symptoms.1 Detoxification is the process in which the body clears itself of drugs and other toxins.1 In order to learn about the detox process, it is important to understand the relationship between detox, withdrawal, and dependence.

Dependence, a potential side effect of fentanyl misuse, is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes so used to the drug being present in the system that when the individual cuts back on their use or quits, withdrawal symptoms emerge. In other words, a person feels like they need this drug to feel and function normally. With significant levels of physiological dependence, a person may continue to compulsively drink or use drugs to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms.

However, detox only addresses the body’s physical dependence on a substance and is not comprehensive treatment for addiction. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that requires healing from psychological, social, and behavioral problems alongside the physical.1

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

During detox, people often experience a variety of unpleasant or even dangerous fentanyl withdrawal symptoms.1 These symptoms can make it difficult to address the psychosocial aspects of addiction.1 Thus, formal assessment and further drug addiction treatment is recommended after completing medical detox for fentanyl.1

Opioids, including fentanyl can have very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and as a result, many individuals turn to addiction treatment professionals to help ease the detoxification process. The following are common withdrawal symptoms associated with fentanyl and other opioids:2

  • Abdominal cramping.
  • Anxiety.
  • Bone or muscle pain.
  • Cravings.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Increase in body temperature.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Nausea.
  • Runny nose.
  • Sweating and goosebumps.
  • Vomiting.

Choosing to enter a medical detox program can alleviate these and other symptoms that may lead to medical complications or relapse.2

What to Expect During Medical Detox for Fentanyl

Medical detox is an important first step of addiction treatment. But what is involved in the detoxification process? Understanding the general timeline, what the various levels of care are, and how treatment medications are used can help prepare patients for the medical detox process can help an individual process what they are about to experience when entering a medical detox program.

General Timeline for Detoxing from Fentanyl

When a person is detoxing from fentanyl, they can expect a general timeline of symptoms to appear.2 However, the severity and exact timeline depends on whether other substances were being used, how long a person had been using fentanyl, how much fentanyl was used, and the length of time between use.2

Unless a long-acting opioid like methadone was taken, a common timeline for opioid withdrawal syndrome is:3

  • 6–12 hours after taking the last dose, the first and mild symptoms may set in.
  • 1–3 days after the last dose, a person can expect peak intensity.
  • 5–7 days after the last dose, acute symptoms should begin to fade.
  • Months after sobriety, a person may still experience anxiety, low motivation, difficulty sleeping, and general unease.

Treatment Medications for Fentanyl Detox

Medications can be beneficial during detox from fentanyl and other opioids to help manage withdrawal symptoms.1 Some of these medications can be used in ongoing drug addiction treatment as well.1 Medications available for treatment during and after fentanyl detox include:4,5

  • Lofexidine: A medication initially manufactured to treat high blood pressure; it has since become FDA-approved to help manage acute opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Clonidine: Another medication used for high blood pressure control; it can be used off-label to help minimize symptoms of opioid withdrawal during the acute phases.
  • Methadone: A long-acting opioid that can be used to alleviate symptoms during withdrawal, including cravings. It can be prescribed long-term and allow a person with physical dependence on opioids to pursue recovery.
  • Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist that is used during detox and throughout recovery. Like methadone, it can combat cravings and aid in opioid addiction recovery.
  • Naltrexone: A medication that can be used after detox to help prevent relapse that works by minimizing the reward experienced if a person uses opioids, thus minimizing the motivation for relapse.

Levels of Care for Fentanyl Addiction

After completing medical detox, it is time to address the emotional and psychological aspects of your addiction. Most treatment centers can help you smoothly transition into a substance use disorder treatment program that focuses on treating your underlying addiction. This is built into the detoxification process, which will integrate the three main elements of evaluation, stabilization, and fostering readiness for entry into treatment.2

The type of treatment and level of care may vary depending on a person’s individual treatment needs, any obstacles or liabilities they may have, and their strengths, assets, available resources, and support.6 The American Society of Addiction Medicine identifies a continuum of care for adult addiction treatment that consists of 4 levels:6

  • Level 4: Inpatient fentanyl addiction treatment is a 24/7 program that occurs in a hospital setting and can offer high levels of medical care for addiction and other co-occurring conditions for those who need it.
  • Level 3: This level of treatment occurs in a residential setting, where the individual lives in a “treatment house” and receives therapy and medication management throughout the day. The level of intensity varies from location to location.
  • Level 2: IOPs/HIOPs (intensive/high intensive outpatient programs) encompass various levels of care in which the patient lives at home during treatment. Some may include 6–8 treatment hours per day throughout the week, and others may comprise just a few hours per day, a few days per week.7
  • Level 1: Outpatient addiction treatment programs include treatment as ongoing outpatient therapy, medical management of addiction, or as check-ins to maintain long-term recovery.
  • Recovery residence: Sober living is a form of rehab aftercare, or continuing care, provides ongoing support to maintain a sober life in recovery from addiction.

The duration and level of care that a person goes through during addiction treatment is unique to each individual.1 Each person undergoes an assessment and regular check-ins throughout treatment to determine if and when their level of treatment should change.1

Find Medical Detox Rehab Near You

If you or your loved one are struggling with addiction to fentanyl, there is hope for recovery. It is never too late for treatment, and American Addiction Centers (AAC) is ready to help you begin. Enrollment in a medical detox rehab and addiction treatment can be straightforward and easy. Find addiction treatment facilities near you to get started on the road to recovery.

Admissions navigators are available 24/7 at AAC facilities to answer your questions and assist you in the enrollment process. They can help you navigate which location and type of treatment may best benefit you. Call us for free, 24/7 support at .

Detoxification and follow-up treatment can provide the stable foundation you need to build a successful journey to recovery. Medical detox rehab can provide:

  • A safe and effective means to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  • A new community committed to living drug-free.
  • Ongoing professional support.
  • Ease of transition into a comprehensive treatment program.
  • Peace of mind during recovery.

Does Health Insurance Cover Fentanyl Detox?

Most health insurance plans cover substance use disorder treatment, including fentanyl detox. Mental health care, including care for substance use disorders, is considered to be one of the 10 categories of essential health benefits that health insurance plans are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act.8

In addition to coverage, the Affordable Care Act includes parity protections for mental health services.9 Thus, the financial limits, treatment limits, and care management limits specified by the insurance provider must be no more restrictive for mental health care than for medical care.9 Each plan differs, but costs and limits must be comparable.

Check with your insurance carrier to find out your specific coverage and how to access treatment within your health insurance plan. And if your coverage is not enough to meet your treatment needs, other options are available.

Many treatment centers offer sliding scale payment plans, individualized costs, private pay options, or other means of payment. Call and ask about what is available before ruling out treatment due to cost. There are ways to go to rehab without insurance. Your health and your future are too important.

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