Carfentanil is a dangerous synthetic opioid that made its way onto the drug scene in 1974. It was initially used in very small doses as a tranquilizer for large animals like elephants. If you’ve heard of fentanyl, which is one of the deadliest synthetic opioids in America, carfentanil is a spinoff of that. It’s so dangerous because it is 100 times more potent than fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

Carfentanil Abuse

Carfentanil is a Schedule II drug, which means that it does have a high potential for abuse. However, because it is so dangerous even in very small amounts, not many people are consciously abusing it. Rather, they’re using it without knowing it, as it’s oftentimes mixed into other drugs like heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, or prescription drugs.

It’s actually quite challenging for physicians to track how many deaths come as a result of carfentanil abuse. This is largely due to the fact that it’s odorless and hides well when mixed with other drugs.

Carfentanil Withdrawal

Oftentimes, people don’t become addicted to carfentanil itself, but on the drug it’s being cut into. Some users may not even realize that their drug of choice has Carfentanil in it.

Regardless, when they attempt to stop using the drug, they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, leading them to the very first stage of addiction recovery: detox. 

What are Carfentanil Withdrawal Symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessing sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Higher levels of anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Stomach cramping
  • Yawning
  • Irritability
  • Intense cravings of the drug
  • Chills

The timeframe of withdrawal symptoms from opioids varies and can last anywhere from a week to a month. Due to the severity of carfentanil withdrawal symptoms, a medical detox program monitored by substance abuse professionals is recommended. There, you will have 24/7 support from those trained in addiction recovery and you’ll get the chance to address any other emotional or mental issues that may be going on, such as anxiety or depression.

What are the Stages of Carfentanil Withdrawal Timeline?

There will be varying stages of carfentanil withdrawal, where physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms may be experienced. The exact amount of discomfort will vary from person to person depending on the type of cut drug used, dosage, type of ingestion, and half-life.

Typically, the withdrawal timeline in stages are:

Stage 1: Early Stage

The first stage of carfentanil withdrawal can begin as soon as six hours after the last dose. The exact timeframe will depend on how much of the drug the client was using, how frequently it was being used, and the nature of the drug itself. This early stage can last anywhere from one to three days, with symptoms ranging from body aches, excessive sweating, trouble sleeping, and runny nose.

Stage 2: Peak Stage

The peak stage is usually when a client will feel the most daunting withdrawal symptoms. This stage usually lasts for two to three days and can result in experiencing stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intensified body aches, and watery eyes. On an emotional level, withdrawal symptoms can include high anxiety, intense sadness or depression, and mood swings. The good news is that soon after the fifth day, symptoms should begin letting up.

Stage 3: Late Stage

The final stage of withdrawal occurs after about the fifth or sixth day, with a few lingering symptoms occurring for one or two weeks longer. Though most of the intense symptoms will have subsided by this time, some psychological symptoms like anxiety, depression, and cravings can linger on for weeks.

So, how long do carfentanil withdrawal symptoms last? Generally, physical withdrawal symptoms should subside within five days to a week and psychological symptoms within two to three weeks. Of course, each person is unique, so this is a general timeframe. 

Why Should I Detox?

Detox is very important because, when someone is using drugs, the body gets used to that particular substance. In fact, you will begin to crave more and more of that drug over time as tolerance increases. To effectively get off of a drug, it is important to safely detox or come off the drug in a methodical manner so that the mind and body can handle it. Quitting a drug cold turkey, especially a powerful opioid like carfentanil, can be quite dangerous. 

The Dangers of Quitting Carfentanil Cold Turkey

It’s very dangerous to quit carfentanil or any opioid cold turkey as it can trigger serious withdrawal symptoms that will make you feel incredibly sick. Physically, the body is accustomed to getting a certain amount of the drug, as it’s become dependent on it. To just give it up cold turkey can physically cause you to feel as if you have an extreme flu and mentally feel as if you’ll never find any relief. This is why a medically-supervised detox is recommended, because there are medications that can decrease such symptoms. 

What is the Next Treatment Step?

It’s likely that a person won’t become addicted to carfentanil itself, because they usually only ingest small amounts when its mixed in with other drugs. So, regarding treatment, the person should undergo detox and treatment for whatever drug was laced with the carfentanil.

Carfentanil Detox

The first step toward treatment of carfentanil addiction is to detox from the toxic substance. This is necessary for the body to cleanse itself from the toxins. The detox stage can be challenging, as some of the withdrawal symptoms are tough, but there are certain medications that trained professionals can administer which can help reduce or minimize such symptoms.

A medically-supervised detox is the safest form of addiction treatment because the client is monitored 24/7. Common medications to help with opioid detox are:

  • Methadone
  • Clonidine
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that users who are seeking to recover should commit to a long-term treatment plan, preferably at a residential or outpatient program, for at least 90 days. This longer-treatment approach gives the recovering user the best potential for staying on the recovery track long-term. Such treatment facilities offer various benefits to the recovering addict, such as:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Drug addiction education
  • Relapse prevention plan
  • 12 Step support groups
  • Individual, family, and group therapy
  • Various life skills

Should You Attend Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab?

Those seeking addiction recovery rehab have two options when it comes to rehabs: 

  • Inpatient
  • Outpatient

Inpatient or residential treatmentoccurs when a person packs up and lives at the treatment center during treatment. There, they are monitored around the clock by substance abuse and medical professionals and have a strict schedule and rules. They will have the opportunity to receive counseling, attend educational classes regarding recovery, and plenty of time to focus on themselves and their recovery.

Outpatient treatment involves a client receiving recovery treatment, but not having to live at the treatment center. They will attend sessions or classes a certain number of times per week for anywhere from six to eight weeks.

White pills and powder on a wood surface

They’ll still have access to counselors, educational recovery classes, and support groups, but the program in and of itself is less structured.

It might be tough to know what type of rehab you should attend. There are addiction specialists who can help you decide. Living at home and attending an outpatient rehab is a good option for those who must attend school or work, but for the more severe opioid addictions, inpatient treatment may be the better option.

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