As you or a loved one consider stopping fentanyl use, you may be wondering about the detox process. Could it be difficult, or dangerous?

What Is Fentanyl?

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, often used to treat severe pain or chronic pain brought on by physical injuries, cancer, or major surgeries. As part of the opioid class of prescription medications in patch form, it is also used to treat pain in patients who have developed tolerance to other opioids. When used in a hospital setting, this drug can bring vital comfort when other strong opioids have failed.

As it is a highly potent prescription drug, it has a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially when not taken as prescribed. Some synthetic fentanyl derivatives are made illegally and combined with heroin or other illicit substances for users to achieve a more intense high. Drug dealers also mix the potent substance or its synthetic derivative with other drugs to make more profits.

These versions of the drugs are very dangerous as their production is unregulated, meaning that a person can not know exactly what they are consuming. Both synthetic and prescription fentanyl can cause chemical dependency and require a supervised detox program at a treatment center for recovery to occur.

Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl Addiction

Addiction to fentanyl or a fentanyl derivative can result in a decline in emotional and physical health, but can also lead to overdose and death.

Fentanyl causes excess amounts of dopamine to flood and change the brain over time. By affecting the central nervous system and neurochemical balances of the brain, even prescribed fentanyl can cause someone to become dependent. They may turn to illegal ways of obtaining the drug after exhausting their prescription.

Once a person has developed tolerance to fentanyl, they may need it to feel normal, and require more and more of the drug to reach the same ‘high’ effect. As the use of the drug increases, a person could suffer from opioid addiction for many years, risking their health.

Similar to most substance abuse, Fentanyl addiction requires addiction treatment. Not only will people try to overcome tolerance and end up increasing their dose, but they may also abuse alcohol or take other prescription drugs that could interfere with fentanyl. These factors place a person at an increased risk for overdose.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that deaths involving synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl, continue rising, with 56,516 overdose deaths in the United States reported in 2020. In 2022, a shocking 67 % of drug overdose deaths involved opioids like fentanyl.

Signs and Symptoms Of Fentanyl Abuse

Symptoms of fentanyl abuse vary from person to person and depend on how much of the drug they consume and how often.

Physical symptoms

A person who abuses fentanyl may have constricted pupils, and experience a slowing down of mental or physical activity. They may experience insomnia and drowsiness or may experience a state of restlessness and anxiety that can result in repetitive or unintentional movements.

Cognitive and mental health symptoms

Attention or concentration difficulties are common. Someone could have memory issues, while also having impaired judgment.

Fentanyl abuse can increase depression, and cause a person to feel euphoria followed by apathy. Cravings for fentanyl can be immense, and this could come with suicidal ideation, both of which require the help of healthcare professionals.

Behavioral symptoms

One characteristic of someone struggling with fentanyl addiction is continuing the use of a substance despite the negative consequences that are associated with its use.

A person may lose or show less interest in hobbies or activities they once found engaging, and withdraw socially, increasing the amount of time they spend on obtaining, using, or recovering from the use of fentanyl. School, work, or family life may be put aside or responsibilities may be replaced by drug use. A person may do ‘doctor shopping’, where they go to multiple doctors to get many prescriptions for fentanyl. They could also be secretive about their drug use or forge prescriptions to obtain it.

Luckily, detox services can help if a person becomes dependent on fentanyl.

Detox

Detox

Detoxification, or detox, is the process by which a substance and its toxins are removed from the body. Detoxification services that are available at a treatment center offer many benefits to anyone attempting to stop drug use.

Attempting to quit abruptly or all in one go is not advised and is unsafe, even if it is from a prescription drug. Without help, the side effects that come about during fentanyl withdrawal could be painful and potentially dangerous, while a person is at a much higher risk for relapse and self-harm.

A medical detox center has the advantage of assessing a person for both mental and physical health issues, including other substances that may have been combined with fentanyl. Since all these factors can influence and worsen the detox process, medical supervision is always advised.

Not only will someone go through the withdrawal process more comfortably and safely, and they will also be able to move on to the next stage of care without interruption. A fentanyl detox center can also create a treatment plan that addresses a person’s drug use, as additional therapeutic interventions provide more support to achieve long-term recovery.

Fentanyl Withdrawal

Fentanyl Withdrawal

There are many benefits of fentanyl detox, but the most important is that discontinuation of prescription drugs can prevent a fatal outcome.

Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms can vary according to the amount and duration of drug use, as well as co-occurring mental health issues or other substance use problems.

Withdrawal Symptoms

During the withdrawal process, a person may vomit and have diarrhea. This often causes severe dehydration and is usually linked to fentanyl-related fatalities. It can cause dangerously high sodium levels in the blood, which may cause a person’s heart to fail.

Other withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Excessive yawning
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Intense cravings for fentanyl
  • Hypertension
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety and depression

Withdrawal Timeline

A drug abuse withdrawal timeline presents differently for different people. Apart from the drug use itself, a person’s weight, metabolic rate, and age play a role in the timeline.

However, there are general guidelines for the process. Usually, as little as twelve hours to one day after the last dose, fentanyl withdrawal symptoms may begin to show.

The first two to four hours involve discomforts, such as aches and chills or yawning. Intense cravings and anxiety already start to kick in, as well as restlessness. Peak withdrawal symptoms usually occur within the first two days, but can last for up to a week. These include the first set of symptoms, but with additional fever and vomiting. Here, physical and emotional support is especially required.

While most physical symptoms usually subside after one week, emotional symptoms like depression, anxiety, and cravings can remain. These post-acute withdrawal symptoms are common and could appear weeks after medical detox, while they could remain for months or even years after stopping fentanyl use.

They could easily cause a person to relapse, and this is why ongoing support provided by a treatment center in the form of aftercare is valuable.

Fentanyl Detox at a Treatment Center

Fentanyl Detox at a Treatment Center

As a detox program at a treatment center is a drug-free space, and one that is different from the place where a person used drugs, the risk of relapse is greatly decreased.

Healthcare professionals can provide the crucial emotional support that is required to go through detox and prevent a person from further using the drug, while the risk of an overdose is also eliminated.

The administration of medicines to aid fentanyl detox is another reason why supervised detox is advisable.

Several medications are approved for treating opioid withdrawal symptoms during a fentanyl detox. Medical staff may administer methadone, which acts as an opioid replacement while decreasing cravings for fentanyl and withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone is also used to block opioid effects, by blocking opioid receptors in the brain, while buprenorphine helps to decrease withdrawal symptoms and cravings too.

Addiction Treatment 

After detox, a person can transition into the therapeutic aspects of the recovery process. With clarity of mind, a variety of treatment options are available to address the reasons behind developing a drug addiction, identify triggers for falling back to drug use, and respond to these triggers healthily.

Often cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, support groups, and family therapy form part of the treatment as additional support.

Any co-occurring disorders that involve mental health or substance use are also addressed during therapy, which ensures that a person has a true chance for sobriety and returning to the pressures of the world outside of a treatment center.

A person will also have access to aftercare resources, whereby they can return to the facility for specific therapies and support groups or follow a designed aftercare plan. This greatly prevents relapse and ensures a successful recovery.

Where Can I Find a Treatment Center?

Where Can I Find a Treatment Center

Seeking treatment for addiction is the first bold step in the right direction to recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with fentanyl abuse, NP Addiction is here to help. We understand that addiction is personal and individual. That is why we can design a treatment program according to your needs.

Our caring and experienced staff can provide you with 24/7 help and support, cutting-edge therapeutic techniques, and a holistic approach to your mental and physical health. NP Addiction can help you build a truly strong foundation for long-term recovery, starting today.

Begin the first day of the rest of your life

To find out more contact our team

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Samantha Kelly​

Director of National Business Development & Admissions Coordinator

I am a dedicated and passionate professional with extensive experience in business development Admissions and marketing. I have an incredible passion for showing others that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel if someone truly wants it.
Being in recovery myself I understand the struggles of addiction and alcoholism. I Started this Career path in 2009. With multiple years of experience, I bring a multi-faceted approach and am always seeking new ways to make a difference in the lives of those I work with.

Kim L. Buckner

Facilitator

As a Substance Abuse Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Peer Advocate, and Facilitator. Kim helps clients avoid relapse by understanding their triggers. Those people, places and things that can cause craving, as well as internal triggers like feelings, thoughts, or emotions. Kim also clients with identifying and building healthy relationships now that they’re clean and sober.

Kim’s background includes extensive experience as a motivational speaker and work in faith-based organizations helping youth and adults alike. He says he is motivated by giving back to the community, understanding, and not judging who she comes into contact with. Kim’s favorite quote is by Dr. Raymond Johnson: “The respect given to others rebounds to the giver to deny the scared in the Other is to deny it in oneself.”

Caty Burns

Clinician

Caty graduated from Indiana University Bloomington in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Counseling and History. Throughout her undergrad, she worked at the local CASA program, supporting volunteers advocating for children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Caty worked for seven years at a community mental health center (CMHC), partnering with children, adults, and families.

During those seven years, she taught life and coping skills as well as behavior management, provided case management and peer recovery services, and facilitated treatment teams that included the client, family, providers, and community members. I have also worked at an IOP providing group therapy services. She is currently working towards my Master of Social Work.

In her free time, Caty enjoys reading, especially historical fiction, spending time outdoors and having movie nights with her family. Disney World is her happy place, and she dreams of living among the elephants.

Madison Knowles

Mental Health Therapist

My name is Madison Knowles, I am a Mental health therapist at NPAC. I am a single-mother of two and I have a daughter who is globally delayed and has been diagnosed with autism. I have been in this industry since I was 16 years old, as I was fascinated with human behavior. I obtained my masters in applied behavioral analysis and started off working with people with disabilities. I then found my love for counseling when I worked with juveniles who had mental health and substance use issues. I then decided to go back for my mental health therapy license after that and working in a forensic treatment center. I went on to obtain my therapy credentials and since 2017, I have also been working on my PhD in forensic psychology in which I am currently working on my dissertation. I am inspired by change and how resilient people can be. My favorite inspirational quote is “Some will, Some won’t, So what, NEXT!!!” This quote has inspired me to try, try, and try again no matter how hard life gets, someone will give you a chance eventually. As a therapist at NPAC, I have been given the opportunity to work with diverse populations such as in substance use and mental health and I am known for my work with people on the schizophrenic spectrum as well as with other clients with other severe conditions including personality disorders.

Megan Carmona, LMHC

Lead Therapist

Our Lead Therapist, Megan, is a bilingual Licensed Mental Health Counselor who specializes in working with adults who struggle with addiction, anxiety, depression, and trauma. As Lead Therapist, she provides individual, family, and group therapy sessions to our clients.  Megan says “I am very passionate about therapy, especially about supporting my clients in exploring their strengths and identity. My goal is to provide individuals with the tools that can help them achieve independence in coping with their challenges and facilitating personal development.” In her free time, Megan enjoys watching docu-series and playing video games with her family. Her dream is to own acres of land so she can care for vulnerable animals, especially old dogs, cats, and horses. 

Kristen Bensley

Primary Clinician

As Primary Clinician, Kristen works with all aspects of our clinical team, from case management to primary therapy.  She has broad experience working in the mental health field. Prior to joining our team at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic, Kristen was part of the team awarded the Evernorth Behavioral Health Center of Excellence Designation by Cigna. She says her motivation is to help people rediscover who they are and become excited about the future and all the possibilities life offers. Kristen’s favorite quote is: “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”

Ronn Daigle, MSW

Therapist, Utilization Review Clinician

Ronn Daigle services as a Therapist and Utilization Review Clinician at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has been working in the field of substance use disorder treatment since 2011, with experience in all facility-based levels of care. Ronn earned, both an Associate of Arts in Psychology (2013) and Bachelor of Science in Human Services, with an Addiction Studies Concentration (2015) from Indian River State College. 

Ronn additionally earned a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and is a current Registered Clinical Social Work Intern working toward licensure (LCSW). He describes himself as detail oriented, and solution focused.

Ronn says: “There is nothing more fulfilling than working with someone who doesn’t believe in himself or herself, and being there in the moment with them when the belief begins. We work with individuals who come to us at a point and time in their respective lives where they do not believe that change for others is possible; let alone for themselves…throughout the process they eventually come to a point where they realize that change is not only possible, but achievable.”

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI

Assistant Clinical Director

Erika Melecio, LMHC, MCAP, CEI is the Assistant Clinical Director at Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic who specializes in the treatment of LGBTQ, addiction, as well as mental health disorders ranging from depression and anxiety, to Bipolar Disorder, trauma, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and eating disorders. Erika utilizes a number of modalities including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and Mindfulness amongst others. Erika has been in practice for close to a decade and has earned her license in Mental Health Counseling, as well as being a Master’s Certified Addiction Professional. Erika has worked with many individuals including couples counseling and family therapy, and is fluent in Spanish.
 
Throughout my years of practice, one of the things I enjoy helping people find is inner peace. Whether you are in the deepest parts of depression, overrun by your anxiety, controlled by your addiction, or there are certain issues in your life that are negatively impacting your ability to function, and have a happy, healthy life, maybe now is the time to talk about it. I am a big believer in empowerment, working hard in therapy, and utilizing different techniques to help you regain that inner peace that may have been lost along the way. I want to work with you as a team because with two people, absolutely everything is possible. I want to be there as a therapist, to help build you up, support you, but also help you be honest with yourself and accountable. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, my biggest goal for you is going to be simple….for you to no longer need my services. Why? Because if you no longer need my services, it means that you have regained your peace, you have regained your strength, you have regained your confidence. It means that you now have the tools to address any issues that try to derail you, and best of all, you will have the insight to overcome and thrive. So let’s begin this journey together, and get you to the place you want to be, emotionally, mentally, psychologically, and in your sobriety.

Aurelio Ayuso, MSW, LCSW, CAP, ICADC

Clinical Director

Aurelio has worked with those that suffer from the disease of addiction in adults and juveniles alike for over 10 years, beginning in the United States Navy where he proudly served for 20 years, working with those that were succumbed by addiction due to trauma and continuing his passion for helping those in need locally in Central Florida.

He specializes in both Addictions and Trauma, he has worked first as a therapist then as the clinical supervisor to both the Juvenile and Adult Drug Court programs in Brevard County. Aurelio has been instrumental in developing substance abuse treatment programs directly tailored to help those that also suffer from complex trauma due to their addiction. He has been recognized by several organizations for his forward thinking and ability to tailor treatment to individuals in the most restrictive environments.

Mr. Ayuso received his Graduate Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as Certified Addictions Professional in the State of Florida, and Internationally Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor. Aurelio specializes in the treatment of Addiction, Trauma, and Abandonment using strength based strategies deeply rooted in Solution Focused, and Mindfulness Therapies. At the Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic he passionately develops holistic curriculums that foster the belief that through addressing the mind, body, and spirit together, the Disease of Addiction can be addressed successfully.

Robert Lehmann, MHSA

Chief Operating Officer

Bob Lehmann is the Chief Operating Officer at the Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic. He has a Master’s Degree in Human Services Administration with a concentration in Mental Health Administration and over twenty-five years of experience as a senior executive at addiction and mental health treatment facilities.

One of the reasons for his commitment to excellence in addiction treatment was his experience related to family members who suffered from the disease of addiction. Bob has been actively involved in community organizations throughout his career. Recently he was one of the founders of the Florida Addiction Treatment Coalition (FATC) and is its present Vice President. FATC was designed to bring together treatment executives in Florida to advocate on behalf of treatment facilities and the clients they serve adhering to a foundation of integrity and service excellence.

Jose R. Toledo, M.D.

Medical Director

A well-rounded and accomplished individual, Jose R. Toledo, M.D., is the Medical Director of Neuro Psychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a neurologist with 25 years of experience and has been in private practice since 1991 on the Treasure Coast of Florida. He completed his neurology training at the State University of New York and his Fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology.

He also completed 24 months of acute inpatient psychiatry at the Western Missouri Mental Health Center, University of Missouri in Kansas City. In 2008, Dr. Toledo participated in and was certified in the continuing medical education activity entitled “Buprenorphine and Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence” from The Medical University of South Carolina during which began his quest to found and head Neuropsychiatric Addiction Clinic.

Dr. Toledo is a brain specialist with particular competence in addiction medicine and out-patient detoxification treatment and integrates the fields seamlessly. He is certified to prescribe Buprenorphine (Suboxone). He incorporates his background in neurology into the addiction field. Dr. Toledo is member/fellow of The American Medical Association, The Florida Medical Association and The American Society of Addiction Medicine