Carfentanil Withdrawal

Those who take illicit synthetic opioids, including carfentanil, often develop a severe degree of opioid dependence and withdrawal.

Those who take illicit synthetic opioids, including carfentanil, often develop a severe degree of opioid dependence and withdrawal, which should be treated and monitored through professional addiction treatment programs.

Carfentanil is an ultrapotent structural analog of the deadly opioid drug fentanyl. It is not intended for human use and is considered to be roughly as toxic as nerve gas.

Nevertheless, this large animal tranquilizer has made appearances as a street drug, being used by drug dealers to counterfeit or adulterate other drugs and increase the risk of overdose and severe opioid withdrawal.

Symptoms Of Carfentanil Withdrawal

While it is unlikely that a person would specifically abuse carfentanil on its own over a long period of time, carfentanil may be diluted into other illicit substances, especially heroin or counterfeited prescription opioids or opiates.

In this form, carfentanil may provoke the development of severe physical dependence and addiction over time.

Once this occurs, a person who stops taking opioids will likely experience a variety of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms known as opioid withdrawal syndrome.

Symptoms of synthetic opioid withdrawal can include:

  • physical pain in muscles or bones
  • spasms
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • sweating
  • chills
  • fever
  • goosebumps
  • runny nose
  • stomach cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • high blood pressure
  • rapid pulse
  • dilated pupils
  • watery eyes
  • overactive reflexes
  • muscle cramps

Carfentanil Withdrawal Timeline

Carfentanil withdrawal symptoms may follow a general schedule, though a person’s experience can vary depending on overall health, the severity of physiological or psychological dependence, and level of substance use.

Note that because carfentanil is a short-acting opioid drug, withdrawal symptoms will likely be intense but short-lived. Symptoms are often described as being acutely flu-like.

6-12 Hours After Last Dose

Initial symptoms of withdrawal begin, including sweating, yawning, discomfort, and feelings of agitation, anxiety, and restlessness.

12-24 Hours After Last Dose

As the drug is processed out of the body, withdrawal symptoms continue evolving with increased sweating, headaches, runny nose, muscle spasms, insomnia, loss of appetite, and pain in the bones, muscles, or joints.

Common psychological symptoms at this stage include drug cravings or compulsions, anxiety, aggression, moodiness, and restlessness.

1-4 Days After Last Dose

Withdrawal symptoms intensify and peak, potentially generating other severe mental and physical symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, goosebumps, increased heart rate, exhaustion, stomach cramps, and impaired thinking and memory.

5-7 Days After Last Dose

With the worst now past, withdrawal symptoms may gradually ease before fading away entirely around a week after a person’s last dose.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

In some cases, those who detox from synthetic opioids may experience certain withdrawal symptoms and feelings of illness that persist well after the normal period of withdrawal.

These symptoms are broadly categorized as PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, and can persist or reemerge over the course of weeks, months, or even years.

Commonly reported symptoms of PAWS include:

  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • lack of energy or motivation
  • disturbed sleep
  • anhedonia, or difficulty experiencing pleasure from daily activities

PAWS is more common among those with severe cases of drug addiction. And while the symptoms of PAWS can be uncomfortable and difficult to cope with, they are temporary and likely resolve over time.

Potential Risks Of Carfentanil Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be severely challenging. But they are rarely life-threatening with the exception of seizures and serious dehydration, which can occur due to vomiting, sweating, high body temperature, or diarrhea.

Decreased Tolerance & Relapse

Unfortunately, those who struggle with opioid addiction often relapse during or after withdrawal. This can be extremely dangerous, not only because it delays the recovery process but because withdrawing may lower a person’s drug tolerance, increasing the risk of deadly opioid overdose.

Opioid Overdose

Symptoms of an opioid overdose include difficulty breathing (respiratory depression), blue colored lips and fingertips, pinpoint pupils, and cold clammy skin.

An overdose can be treated using naloxone (Narcan), which is typically carried by first responders and law enforcement officers.

Medical Detox Recommended

Due to these risks, healthcare providers strongly recommended that anyone considering withdrawing from synthetic opioids do so with the help of a professional inpatient medical detox program, in which they can receive close medical and emotional support and guidance.

Treatment Options For Carfentanil Addiction & Withdrawal

While some do choose to withdraw from synthetic opioids cold-turkey, healthcare providers recommend other options, especially medication-assisted treatment (MAT) using buprenorphine (a partial opioid receptor agonist) or methadone (a long-acting opioid).

Both of these medications have been approved by the FDA to aid in the treatment of opioid use disorder as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. MAT has the ability to suppress opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms as the patient receives therapy and counseling.

Other inpatient or outpatient treatment options may include:

For information on our outpatient addiction recovery services, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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