When you’re detoxing from fentanyl, it’s natural to wonder how long until the drug is out of your system completely. It’s the strongest opioid drug that exists that is 100 times more powerful than heroin—so does that mean it spends more time in your body than other opioids?
Not necessarily. Your body works the same way when it removes any opioid from your system. You might feel the effects of fentanyl much more strongly than those of heroin, but they won’t stick around in your body for much longer.
The best way to know whether fentanyl is still in your system is by taking a drug test. If you’re in active treatment, searching for a job, or reporting to a parole board, then you might be required to take regular drug tests. The types of drug tests for fentanyl include hair, saliva, blood, and urine tests.
Here’s what you need to know about fentanyl, how it passes through your body, and how quickly it leaves your body:
How Does Fentanyl Work?
Fentanyl is an opioid pain medication, which means that it works by blocking opiate receptors in the brain that manage the way you experience pain.
When the receptor is blocked by the opioid drug, it stops you from feeling pain as strongly. All opioid drugs work this way. There are other effects as well, which include euphoria.
Fentanyl is very effective at managing severe pain, so it is often used to treat terminal cancer pain and other chronic, severe pain.
Most drugs that cause euphoria can lead to abuse, and fentanyl is one of them. This drug is up to 100 times as potent as heroin, so it can cause effects at much lower doses than other opiates and opioids (This means it’s that much more likely to cause overdose, death, and other harm).
Fentanyl Methods of Use
Fentanyl comes in several different administration methods. They include:
- Intravenous fentanyl: Fentanyl is administered as a liquid through a sterile tube that goes into your veins. This is the quickest way to achieve effects—for instance, it’s used to relieve labor pain in birthing women in seconds.
- Oral fentanyl tablets: Tablets are usually placed between your cheek and your tongue to dissolve. This is called buccal administration. People who abuse fentanyl sometimes crush the tablets into powder and snort them or inject them.
- Transmucosal fentanyl lozenges: These are hard drops that you put under your tongue or in your cheek pocket. As they dissolve, they absorb into the soft tissues of your mouth, where they reach the bloodstream quickly. Sometimes they come on a stick in a lollipop form for easier use.
- Transdermal fentanyl patch: A sticky patch is applied to your skin, which absorbs fentanyl very slowly over time into the blood.
All of these methods have one thing in common: They get the fentanyl into your bloodstream, although at different speeds.
Once fentanyl is in your bloodstream, you start feeling the effects of the drug.
Effects of Fentanyl
- Euphoria, or feeling “high”
- Digestive problems, including constipation, discomfort, and nausea
- Sedation, or feeling some combination of relaxed, sleepy, and calm
- Slowed breathing
As the effects kick in, your body is working to remove fentanyl from your bloodstream gradually. The blood filters through your liver and kidneys, where fentanyl is filtered out. As this happens, you’ll start feeling the effects of fentanyl less and less.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?
Over time, you’ll feel less pain relief and less euphoria. How long it takes to stop feeling the effects depends on the method of administration you used.
Generally, it takes fentanyl:
- 2 to 4 hours for the effects to stop after using the lozenge
- 3 days for effects to stop after using the patch
- 30 to 60 minutes for effects to stop after intravenous (IV) use
With tablets, the amount of time it takes to stop feeling the effects depends on the dose. Larger doses take longer to wear off.
However, whether fentanyl shows up on a drug test is different from whether you’re feeling the effects. It doesn’t matter what kind of method you’re using; lozenges, patches, and IV fentanyl can all show up on drug tests for the same amount of time after use.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System if You Eat It?
Fentanyl takes about two days to leave your digestive system after you take it orally, and the effects stop after two to four hours.
It’s important to remember that even though fentanyl has left your digestive system, it can still show up on a drug test for longer. That’s up to 90 days for a hair test, up to four days for a saliva test, and up to two days for a blood test.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System if You Smoke It?
When you smoke fentanyl, the effects begin almost immediately. The effects continue for 30 to 60 minutes, and you’ll continue to test positive for the drug for days or hours after (depending on the type of test).
How Long Does a Fentanyl Patch Stay in Your System?
Fentanyl patches keep working for about three days after using—that is, three days from the time you remove the patch, not three days from the day you put it on.
As always, fentanyl continues to show up on drug tests after you’ve stopped feeling the effects. It could be 90 days before you test negative on a hair test.
How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System for a Urine Test?
A urine test starts detecting fentanyl around 12 hours after you’ve used the drug, and it can continue to detect the drug for up to 48 hours.
Urine tests aren’t the only drug tests that can pick up fentanyl in your system. Other types of drug tests that could detect fentanyl include:
- Blood tests: A blood test for fentanyl usually detects the drug anywhere from 5 to 48 hours after use.
- Saliva tests: This kind of test can detect fentanyl for 1 to 4 days after you’ve used it.
- Hair tests: A hair test can detect most drugs in your system for 90 days after use, including fentanyl.
How Do You Detox From Fentanyl Faster?
You can’t choose to detox from fentanyl faster. Your body processes it at a set rate, and you can’t force your liver or kidneys to work more quickly.
There are factors that affect how fast your body will detox, but they are mostly outside of your control.
However, your drug use habits do affect detox length, and that’s within your control—or it can be. If you use fentanyl heavily, very often, or with other opioids, your detox period could take longer.
You shouldn’t try to reduce fentanyl use without medical help. Fentanyl withdrawal can be severely painful, and it’s best to be monitored while you’re experiencing it.
Detox From Fentanyl With Inpatient Opioid Treatment
You can detox more comfortably with the help of inpatient treatment. This kind of rehabilitation involves close monitoring and keeping your symptoms under control. When your withdrawal symptoms are controlled, you can focus on getting better rather than worrying about cravings and pain.
The benefits of inpatient treatment for substance abuse include access to:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This type of therapy involves learning about your thought patterns so you can avoid thoughts that make you want to relapse. It’s considered the most effective kind of therapy for substance abuse.
- Medication-assisted treatment: Medications such as buprenorphine and methadone block opioid receptors in the brain. This prevents cravings and withdrawal, making detox easier to handle.
- Group therapy: Many people living with substance abuse disorders find that recovery is easier with like minds for support. Group therapy can take the form of talk therapy, family therapy, or a support group.
- Consultations with medical professionals: No two recoveries are exactly the same. Having medical professionals around means that your treatment can be tailored to your needs as you go through detox.
Your recovery could start today, so what are you waiting for? Call a certified treatment center today to make the first step toward a sober life!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fentanyl <https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/fentanyl.html>
- U.S. National Libraries of Medicine: Fentanyl <https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a605043.html>
- National Institute on Drug Abuse: Fentanyl <https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl>
- Medical News Today: Fentanyl use, effects, and side effects <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308156.php>