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How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System? Understanding Fentanyl Metabolism

Fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid analgesic (pain-relieving) medication, has been on our radar lately due to an influx of news about its dangers. While fentanyl is a critical medication for managing severe pain in medical settings, its high potency and potential for abuse make it a significant public health concern.

Understanding how long fentanyl stays in your body is relevant when considering drug testing. It’s also important to know how to regain your health if fentanyl is in your system. Learn about how this potent substance is measured in the body and the factors affecting its metabolization.

What is Fentanyl?

In supervised medical settings, Fentanyl is used as a pain reliever similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more powerful. Due to its potency, fentanyl carries a high risk of overdose if not used properly. After repeat use, the brain’s opioid receptors adapt to the substance and require more of it to sustain a similar effect, thus beginning the drug’s addiction cycle.

Fentanyl is classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, with use that could lead to psychological or physical dependence. During recreational use, it is often combined with other substances, like heroin or cocaine.

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Different Methods of Fentanyl Usage

Fentanyl is administered in several different ways in medical settings under strict supervision, depending on the clinical situation and the form of the drug prescribed.

  • Transdermal patches – Patches are applied to the skin to deliver fentanyl slowly for 48 to 72 hours for chronic pain management.
  • Intravenous (IV) injection – IV use provides rapid pain relief and is typically used in a hospital setting for acute pain management or during surgery.
  • Tablets and lozenges – Placed between the gum and cheek or under the tongue, these dissolve under the tongue and are absorbed quickly, offering rapid pain relief.
  • Nasal spray – Used for quick absorption through the nasal mucosa, providing fast-acting pain relief.
  • Epidural or spinal injection – Administered by a healthcare professional, fentanyl is injected into the epidural space around the spinal cord or directly into the spinal fluid for pain relief, often used during childbirth or surgery.

Outside of medical settings, fentanyl is an illicit substance and unregulated. It can be snorted, smoked, or taken orally in pill form.

Using Fentanyl for Surgery

Major surgeries, such as heart or abdominal surgery, require more extended pain management. Fentanyl is typically used for short-term, acute pain management following surgery with the goal of transitioning patients to less potent pain medications as soon as possible. The exact use duration depends on the operation type, pain levels, and a patient’s response to treatment.

Following medical procedures, fentanyl can be detected in your system for several days.

How Long Does Fentanyl Stay in Your System?

The duration fentanyl stays in your system depends on several factors, including the method of administration, dosage, frequency of use, metabolism, and the type of test used to detect it. These timelines are approximate and can vary based on individual differences and testing methods.

  • Blood – Fentanyl can be detected in the blood for up to 12 hours after the last dose. Metabolites can be detected up to 48 hours post-use.
  • Urine – Fentanyl is usually detectable in urine for up to 24-72 hours after the last dose. However, its metabolites might be detectable for a more extended period, sometimes up to a week, with more regular use.
  • Saliva – Fentanyl can be detected in saliva for 1-3 days after the last use.
  • Hair – Fentanyl can be detected in hair follicles for up to 90 days after the last dose, making it useful for long-term drug use detection.

Metabolism of Fentanyl

Fentanyl is primarily metabolized in the liver and is impacted by various factors that influence how long fentanyl stays in the system:

  • Individual metabolic rate
  • Body weight and body fat percentage
  • How often the drug is used
  • How much of the drug is consumed when used
  • Current health of the user, specifically their kidney and liver function
  • How hydrated the person is
  • If the user is taking other medications or drugs

Liver enzymes convert fentanyl into metabolites (metabolic waste products). The majority of fentanyl and its metabolites are excreted in the urine and feces.

How to Get Fentanyl Out of Your System

Detoxing from fentanyl can be challenging and potentially dangerous due to the drug’s potency and the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms are intense, and medical detox is recommended.

Fentanyl Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Early Symptoms (within hours to a few days of last use):
    • Anxiety and agitation
    • Muscle aches
    • Insomnia
    • Sweating
    • Yawning
    • Runny nose
  • Later Symptoms (peak within a few days and can last for weeks):
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Abdominal cramping
    • Rapid heart rate
    • High blood pressure
    • Chills and goosebumps
    • Severe cravings for the drug

Fentanyl Detox

Due to the dangers associated with fentanyl withdrawal, detoxing under medical supervision is strongly recommended. In fact, most addiction recovery programs require a detox protocol before treatment can begin. Medical detox involves a supervised setting where healthcare professionals can manage withdrawal symptoms and provide medications to ease discomfort as needed.

Side Effects of Fentanyl

Fentanyl’s immediate effects are similar to other opioids, creating a sense of relaxation and euphoria that makes the drug appealing to users. Its pain-relieving effects are also highly desired. But fentanyl has side effects that are not so pleasant:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Breathing problems
  • Unconsciousness
  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Dizziness

Overcoming Fentanyl Addiction

Fentanyl addiction is not something you must overcome alone–it is daunting to battle any addiction, and fentanyl abuse is no different. With the proper treatment and support, there is hope for reclaiming your life and moving forward.

If you or a loved one is misusing fentanyl or other drugs, professional help may be necessary, and you deserve to seek guidance. Consider reaching out to Vogue Recovery Center today. Recovery from drug abuse is possible with the right resources.

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Kelsey Jones vrc az

Medically Reviewed by Kelsey Jones, MS, LPC

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