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How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System

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How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System? Detection Times for Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair Follicles

Fentanyl has grabbed newspaper headlines over the last decade for a number of overwhelmingly negative reasons. It has been responsible for thousands of opioid overdose deaths in the United States. In fact, in 2019 we saw that opioids were involved in a total of 49,460 deaths in the U.S. alone. If we take into account that 72.9% of all opioid-involved overdose deaths were caused by synthetic opioids (such as fentanyl), we can see why fentanyl use is an urgent issue that must be addressed.

In order to fully understand how long fentanyl can remain in the body, we must first know what the drug is and how it affects its users.

What Is the Drug Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is an entirely synthetic opioid compound that was first created in a lab in 1960 by the Belgian chemist Paul Janssen of Janssen Pharmaceuticals. From its creation, it was marketed and sold for the treatment of moderate to severe levels of pain. It is one of only a few opioid painkillers approved for the long-term treatment of chronic severe pain and is primarily prescribed to people living with a high level of chronic pain and tolerance to other painkillers.

Fentanyl is extremely potent and a stronger opioid than either heroin or morphine. In fact, the drug is estimated to be 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. Because of how strong it is, over time it has shifted from just being an effective way to treat severe levels of chronic pain to also being a commonly misused intoxicating street drug.

While fentanyl continues to gain popularity as a powerful street drug, it is still prescribed as an effective medical tool for the treatment of severe chronic pain. It is sold under the brand names Sublimaze, Actiq, and Duragesic. In a medical setting, fentanyl is administered most commonly in a pill, an injection, in lozenges, or in medicated adhesive patches.

As a street drug, fentanyl is sold and consumed in a widely varying number of different forms. It can be sold as a powder or pressed into pills and made to look like fake or counterfeit versions of other prescription opioid drugs. Fentanyl is also dissolved in a solution and dropped onto paper tabs, similar to LSD or “acid.”

The biggest danger for fentanyl overdose occurs when the drug is repackaged as counterfeit versions of known opioids. Fentanyl is very commonly added to heroin to increase the heroin’s potency. Too often, consumers of these street-level opioids believe they are purchasing one drug, but in reality, they are purchasing a disguised version of the much more potent and dangerous fentanyl. This commonly leads to overdose and death.

Where Does Fentanyl Come From?

A majority of the fentanyl that is produced for legitimate medical use is manufactured in China and exported to the United States. A large portion of this fentanyl is also diverted for illegal street sale and smuggled across borders. Eventually, the drug reaches people in the United States via mail, from the “Dark Web,” or from the efforts of drug cartels.

What Does Fentanyl Do to the Body?

Fentanyl is an opioid drug that can suppress some of the functions of the central nervous system (CNS) such as breathing rate, heart rate, and body temperature regulation.

Fentanyl works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, causing an increase in the chemical dopamine, which is responsible for feelings of pleasure. The result of this increase in dopamine is sedation, relaxation, and extreme happiness. For this reason, fentanyl has a high rate of addiction.

After someone engages in extended opioid use, their brain begins to adjust to this newfound source of pleasure chemicals and stops producing 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.

How long and how severe withdrawal will be will vary from person to person, but there are some symptoms everyone has. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, and while they can be extremely uncomfortable, they are not generally seen as life-threatening.

Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Restlessness, agitation, and irritability
  • Tremors and goosebumps
  • Fatigue
  • Hypertension and rapid heart rate
  • Muscle spasms and impaired breathing
  • Anxiety, depression, and difficulty feeling positive feelings or pleasure
  • Extreme drug cravings

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?

Fentanyl can be detected in the body for varying amounts of time depending on the person’s biological makeup, metabolism, and the method of testing used. The following are general guidelines for the detection of fentanyl using different tests:

Urine Test:

Tests can typically detect fentanyl in the urine from 1 to 3 days after consumption.

Blood Test:

Fentanyl can typically be detected in the blood for up to 48 hours.

Hair Follicle Test:

Hair follicles can show if fentanyl has been consumed for up to three months.

Saliva Test:

Saliva is not an effective way to detect recent fentanyl use.

There are several factors that affect how long fentanyl will remain in a person’s system, so these timelines are not always completely accurate. The biggest thing that can affect how long fentanyl remains in a person’s system is the method of administration. As outlined above, fentanyl is administered in a number of different ways.

Different methods of administration result in different “half-lives.” A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes for half of the drug to be eliminated from a person’s system. Once half the drug has left the system, the majority of its intoxicating effects have worn off.

  • Intravenous (injected) fentanyl: When fentanyl is injected, it has a half-life of 2 to 4 hours, depending on the size of the dose.
  • Transdermal fentanyl: When fentanyl is administered through the skin via adhesive patch, it is absorbed more slowly and has a longer half-life. The half-life of the drug when taken transdermally is about 17 hours.
  • Transmucosal (orally administered) fentanyl: When fentanyl is absorbed through the mucous membranes in the mouth, typically in the form of lozenges, it has a half-life of anywhere from 5 to 14 hours, depending on the specific formulation.

Other factors that can affect the rate at which fentanyl leaves the system include a person’s:

  • Age
  • Height and weight
  • Body fat content
  • Genetics
  • Food consumption
  • Metabolic rate
  • Liver function
  • Average fentanyl dosage amount
  • Duration of use
  • Overall health
  • Use of other substances

What Are the Signs And Symptoms of Fentanyl Use?

A very small amount of fentanyl can kill a person. This means overdose is a common occurrence for people who use fentanyl. Knowing the signs and symptoms of fentanyl addiction could help save your life or that of a loved one.

The signs of fentanyl addiction are similar to the signs of addiction to other opioids, such as heroin. These include the compulsive use of fentanyl or other opioids, intense cravings for the drug, showing impaired judgment regarding the drug, or continuing to use fentanyl despite obvious harm or negative consequences.

When someone is actively under the influence of fentanyl, it is likely to cause some signs that are easy to identify. Some of these signs include:

  • Constant drowsiness or “nodding off”
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intense sweating, flushing, and hot flashes
  • Slowed or labored breathing

One thing to note about fentanyl addiction is that the person may have initially suffered from addiction to a less powerful opioid, prescription or otherwise. The nature of opioid addiction is such that the person will begin to build a tolerance to the drug over time. This means the person will have to take higher amounts to reach the desired level of intoxication.

Because of fentanyl’s higher potency, people who suffer from opioid addiction may seek out fentanyl as a way to “beat” their opioid tolerance and achieve the intoxication they desire. This is an extremely dangerous practice and too often leads to overdose and death.

Your Search for Effective Treatment for Fentanyl Addiction is Here with MAT from Serenity Lane

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of certain medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a unique approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Some of the medications approved by the FDA for MAT are naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone. These work best in combination with clinical therapies for the treatment of substance use disorders — which is why MAT exists.

Medications used in MAT work by normalizing brain chemistry, relieving physiological cravings, and normalizing body functions without the negative withdrawal symptoms of opioids like fentanyl.

It’s important to understand that medication alone is not a cure-all solution for opioid addiction. Medication at Serenity Lane is used as just one piece of our comprehensive treatment programs.

Serenity Lane has been a trailblazer in the addiction treatment space and has served the Oregon community since 1973. We offer individualized, effective, and innovative solutions for our clients, neighbors, colleagues, friends, acquaintances, and family members struggling with fentanyl dependency or any other addiction. Our residential treatment center in Coburg, Oregon, can help you or a loved one today.

Don’t wait another day to get the help you or a loved one needs. Call to speak to a recovery specialist now: (800) 543-9905

Serenity Lane

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alcohol and drug addictions.
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