Drug and Alcohol - Opioid Addiction

Fentanyl Addiction: How Long Does It Stay in Your System?

How long does fentanyl stay in your system? Learn more about this incredibly dangerous opioid drug, including its half-life, in our blog.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 30, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Thousands of people in the country have been dying from the opioid drug fentanyl yearly, and there are no signs of it stopping. You must be thinking about what could be the reason behind all of this. There is no single answer to it.

Addiction can be defined as a chronic brain dysfunction developed due to physical and mental dependency from the continued use of alcohol and drugs. Drug addiction is one of the leading healthcare concerns for the government of the United States of America is struggling from. One of the biggest challenges of drug addiction is that it can happen to anyone. It is not a matter of region, gender, age, or such categories. It does not concern itself with any of such restrictions. Any individual can become a victim of the debilitating effects of this health condition.

The negative impact on an individual's health includes physical and mental impacts. Apart from this, another unfortunate thing related to substance abuse is that it impacts not only the user but also those who are related to users. Whether it is family, friends, acquaintances, or office colleagues, all related things suffer because of this disease. Why?

It is because drug dependency alters a person's behavior. This is what you may have noticed or heard about someone with an enthusiastic personality becoming isolated and loner after becoming drug dependent. Often, people with this condition tend to isolate themselves so they do not pose any intervention. One of the biggest early warning signs of drug abuse is distancing oneself from anyone between you and your next dose of the drug. 

One of the biggest reasons for drug addiction is prescription and non-prescription opioids and dependency on narcotic medications like fentanyl. The opioid crisis is a major force behind the ongoing opioid epidemic.

By the Numbers:

As many as 50,000 Americans die almost every year due to opioid overdose, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. One of the world's deadliest opioids that have been the reason for half of the overdose deaths by any in the country is fentanyl. According to NCDAS, fentanyl is a synthetic drug with an all-time high number.

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a potent opioid that is primarily used as an analgesic. It's one of the most dangerous drugs abused today. Fentanyl is sometimes spelled as fentanil and is known by various street names such as Goodfellas, Apace, Tango & Cash, He-Man, Jackpot, China Town, Poison, and many more. It is very similar to the similar synthetic opioid known as morphine. But unlike morphine, fentanyl is said to be 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, which is why so many people become victims of its addiction and overdose.

As mentioned before, fentanyl's primary usage includes pain management. Most people prescribed this medication are either undergoing some painful and extensive form of surgery or undergoing cancer treatment. Also, it is sometimes given to those patients who have shown signs of becoming tolerant to other forms of opioids. Hence, it is sort of a last resort for many. Apart from pain management, fentanyl drugs are also used as sedatives. But they are highly dangerous as even the smallest quantity of its dose can lead to tolerance development and even overdose.

Other than the street names, fentanyl is commonly known by the prescription names such as Sublimaze, Duragesic, Actiq, Fentora, fentanyl citrate, and more. Talking about its appearance and the forms this drug is available in includes tablets, nasal sprays, solutions that can be injected, tablets, and transdermal patches. These are the pharmaceutical forms of fentanyl that are legally available in pharmacies and drug stores. On the other hand, illegally, fentanyl is sold in powder form that can be swallowed, snorted, and injected. 

How Does Fentanyl Work?

Like other opioid drugs, fentanyl works by attaching to certain receptors in our nervous system. This affects the way we perceive pain. It's exactly how morphine and heroin work, but fentanyl's sheer potency means it works much faster.

This potency also makes fentanyl lethal. Opioids can also affect other body functions, including breathing. Even small doses of fentanyl can slow down the body's breathing until a person suffocates, which is how drug overdoses are lethal.

Withdrawal From Fentanyl

Fentanyl withdrawal is similar to withdrawal from other opioid drugs. In general, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms start between 12 and 24 hours after it was last used. Symptoms of fentanyl withdrawal tend to peak around three days after usage stops and last for around two weeks.

However, in some cases, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can linger for months. Many factors determine how long fentanyl withdrawal lasts, and the process is different for everybody.

Fentanyl Withdrawal: A Timeline
Why Should I Withdraw From Fentanyl?
Fentanyl Withdrawal: Phase 1
Fentanyl Withdrawal: Phase 2
Fentanyl Withdrawal: Phase 3
How Drug Rehab Makes Fentanyl Withdrawal Easier
Fentanyl Addiction is Treatable
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How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?

Fentanyl is used for both medical and recreational purposes. In a medical setting, fentanyl is either used as an injectable solution that can directly enter your bloodstream or as a transdermal patch on your skin. On the streets, illicitly-produced fentanyl comes in a variety of forms.

How long fentanyl stays in your system depends on many factors, including the above ways of consumption. For instance, if a person uses the transdermal patch, fentanyl drugs can stay in our system for as long as 20 to 27 hours, while the effects of a nasal spray can wear off in 5 to 6 hours of usage.

Some common factors that influence fentanyl to stay in our bodies are:

  • Amount of dose taken by the user

  • Duration of the use of fentanyl

  • Elimination of the half-life of fentanyl

  • The frequency of fentanyl usage

  • The weight and build of the user

  • The condition of the liver and kidneys of the fentanyl user

All of these above factors influence the flushing out of the drug. However, these numbers can also vary if a person is binging on fentanyl and is not allowing their body to flush out the effect. In such cases, the body becomes tolerant to the drug, and it takes more time to flush it out of the system. Let's talk more about the half-life and its meaning. 

What Is the Half-Life of Fentanyl?

To understand the duration of a drug before flushing it out from our system, we first have to look at the drug's half-life. The elimination of the half-life of a drug determines how long its effects stay in our bodies. What does the half-life of fentanyl mean? Half-life is the time it takes for an active substance like fentanyl to be reduced in half in our body. How can one find out the duration of half-life? All the half-life of drugs is determined by various factors, including bodily details like weight, age, gender, condition of vital organs, metabolism rate, etc., of an individual.

Now coming to the actual half-life of fentanyl drug is between 3 to 7 hours after consumption. These numbers can also vary depending on how fentanyl is administered in the body, as all the different forms and ways of consumption have varying effects. 

What Is The Half Life of Fentanyl? This image describes the half life of Fentanyl

How Long Does Fentanyl Take to Kick In?

To understand the duration of fentanyl effects setting in a user, it is vital first to know the drug's working. Fentanyl is a drug that attaches itself to opioid receptors. While getting attached activates these receptors in areas where pain and emotions can be felt in our brains. When fentanyl interacts with these receptors in our brain, it increases dopamine release. Our body naturally releases dopamine from a few nerve cells to our brain reward center.

Fentanyl increases the concentration of dopamine released, and our brain senses and perceives the euphoric effects. As it interferes with the natural process, it also has various hazardous effects. The drug makes our breathing slower, and this can lead to fatal side effects. We will learn about its effect in the lower section, but before that, let's quickly talk about how long it takes for fentanyl to kick in. As mentioned before, the timeline of fentanyl is dependent on its form. For instance, fentanyl tablets, nasal sprays, and lozenges take about 15-30 minutes to kick in. The effects wear off as quickly as it sets in, about 4 to 6 hours.

Similarly, if someone uses its patch, it can take 1 or 2 days to show its effects. So naturally, the effects stay for a longer duration. The quickest is an injectable solution that can show effect within 60 seconds and starts to wear off after the peak is felt in 2 to 4 minutes. 

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How to Test for Fentanyl

Following are drug tests that can trace the fentanyl drug in any form available from our body. These drug tests and their time window of detection are mentioned below.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System? This chart shows how long Fentanly stays in urine, saliva, blood, and hair

Urine Test

The urine test can detect the fentanyl traces for 24-72 hours after it was last consumed. 

Blood Test

Blood tests can detect fentanyl if its last usage is within 5 to 48 hours. 

Saliva Test

You may be surprised that saliva tests cannot detect traces of fentanyl metabolites. 

Hair Follicles Test

Like any other drug, hair tests can detect fentanyl for as long as three months after its last usage.

What Are some Fentanyl Side Effects?

Some side effects that free fentanyl users experience include:

  • Common side effects include sedation, confusion, nausea, unconsciousness, drowsiness, constipation, trouble breathing, sudden and extreme happiness, relaxation, euphoria, pain relief, vomiting, dizziness, and more.

  • Severe side effects of fentanyl may include choking, urinary retention, constricted pupils, diarrhea, rash, discoloration of the skin, clammy skin, respiratory depression, and more.

How to Recover From Fentanyl Abuse

First, it is vital to understand that addiction to the potent and dangerous drug fentanyl should never be overlooked. If you have trouble determining the severity of abuse or addiction, the best way to deal with it is to take a medical intervention and visit a drug rehab. This is the safest and most secure option for understanding, managing, and treating fentanyl addiction. The treatment of fentanyl abuse and addiction has evolved and advanced over the years.

So, instead of thinking or hesitating about visiting the facility, contact them as soon as possible. There are various ways to treat opioid addiction. The treatment generally includes a combination of medical detox, controlled prescribed medication, and behavioral therapies. Some common behavioral therapies that have proven to be effective in opioid addiction are mentioned below. 

General Counseling

Counseling sessions are very effective in changing the general attitude towards life and help in altering negative lifestyle habits into positive ones. It helps develop positive habits, coping skills, relapse prevention techniques, and more. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Cbt)

CBT helps modify a person's attitude and manage stress levels. 

Contingency Management (Cm)

It is an intensive based therapy where a patient is triggered to leave the drug misuse lifestyle by offering them movie vouchers and discounts. 

Motivational Enhancement

As the name suggests, motivation enhancement therapy leads patients to think critically about their lifestyle and addiction disorder. It also helps them with the rapid changes faced by addiction treatment. 

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Don't Risk a Fentanyl Overdose! Fentanyl Addiction Is Treatable at the Edge Treatment Center

Drug and alcohol addiction has become a worldwide health concern as more and more people are becoming a victim of its vicious cycle of dependency. Fentanyl is especially infamous; its potency has killed many.

Fortunately, fentanyl addiction is treatable. The Edge Treatment Center offers effective, evidence-based care for fentanyl abuse. Don't risk a fentanyl overdose; reach out to The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more about fentanyl addiction, treatment for fentanyl abuse, and more.

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