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Addiction: Substance Abuse Community
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Avatar universal

Fentanyl Withdrawals - how long do they last Cold Turkey?

I've been on a Fentanyl patch for the past 9 years. I went from 175mcg/hr down to 12.5 mcgs then 5 days ago I stopped cold turkey.  I don't take any other drugs except for my blood pressure meds.
The withdrawals have been BRUTAL!   I mean the most horrific thing I have even gone through.  When will this stop?  At night the minute I start to fall asleep it's like a demon takes over my body and I jerk and jump, twist and shout all night long - I get up and down out of bed, I exercise and even lift weights to try and stop the demon - but nothing works.  I haven't slept for more than 20 minutes at one time any night since stopping.  I'm scared!  I will choose not to live if I have to go back on Fentanyl but I can't take much more of these withdrawals.  
When can I expect the withdrawals to end and how long does it take to get back to my normal self with no effects whatsoever of the Fentanyl?  I seriously need help!  
Thank you
78 Responses
1979360 tn?1328147465
while i don't have much experience with this drug at all, i do know people that have. and they all went off the patch with the help of a doctor. keep us posted and keep your head up!  <33
Avatar universal
Thank you addict...
I hope I NEVER have to do this ever again...  Fentanyl withdrawals are so brutal.
I felt like I was doing the right thing by taking two years to work myself down  from 175mcg/hr to 150, 100, 75, 50, 25, 12, and then cold turkey!  If withdrawals get worse than this then I don't think anyone could withstand it.
I just need to know how long this will go on.  I can't take much more.
Avatar universal
I have taken fentanyl many times except I was iving it. It is a horrfic drug. Def one of the harder opoids to come off and I commend you on your courage and ambition to get off it. Like any other opiate you will not sleep for awhile and that is for me one of the worst parts. I love love love my sleep. I didnt sleep for 10 days straight in rehab coming off heroin and I thought i was going crazy. I was hallucinating so bad and id lay in bed at night and watch the ceilings crawling with bugs. I would def. look into buying hylands restless leg at your local pharmacy its OTC and works great for restless legs. I know what u mean with the legs and nothing helps really but I did get some relief from walking. If your not sleeping u may as well get up and go for a little walk around the block. U gotta wear yourself out and youlll eventually sleep. The mind is going 90mph right now and is thinking and conspiring agasint you to figure out how to get more drugs into your body. Do NOT fall for the demons tricks. This too shall pass. You are at day 5 and that is HUGE. Ur not turning around now promise me that. U just got to ride it out a few more days i promise you youll start to sleep within a day or two not 10 hour beauty sleep but a few hours. Anything you can get. I would pass out for like 10 mins here or there and somtimes u are so tired u dont realize u are actually sleeping. It starts slow but it will come back until one day u just crash. Until then hang tight and keep yourself occupied. Ur battling one of the hardest drugs to come off. And u did it ct. Commend yourself becuz ur no baby thats for sure. U should be proud of yourself and treat yourself to a smoothie. I just had one yum there awsome when u cant get much else down. And eat good fresh foods and veggies and stay HYDRATED. Trust me i used to not eat or drink and u feel 10x worse when u dont drink alot of water. Plus water is the way u flush out the toxins other than sweating its all u got. If u can get to a sauna that helps alot too it speeds up your detox and thats what u need. Take hot showers and listen to good music. Are you taking the thomas recipe? If not i would start now its not too late. Hang in there bud I know u can do it your so close! And your right life isnt anything on drugs! iTS not reality!
1926359 tn?1331591739
Wow.  I too, commend you for C/T off fentanyl...I did a slow taper after surgery from 75 mcg every 2 days to 25 mcg before switching to Targin (oxycontin/nalexone and then finally C/T 39 days ago.  Addicted gave you rock solid advice...I would add Melatonin for sleep (take it when the sun goes down) a good multi vitamin and VItamin C ascorbate (your body is likely very low in C) potassium, and magnesium...It's this deficiency that causes the RLS and other muscle spasms.  Exercise really helps...The more the better.  Start small and work your way up.  Also-whey protein shakes have all the amino acids that your body/brain needs to rebuild.  You can buy a 2lb bottle at walmart-add 2 scoops, milk, banana in blender and drink 2 a day...I really noticed a difference when I started these (around day 5)
You are very brave and strong...Be proud of yourself and keep on moving forward...It gets a little better every day.....Sending support...Lu
1 Comments
Thank you for helpful information.  I'm quitting fentynal cold turkey and about losing my mind because I'm on my 8th day and it's still no better.  Wish I had read your suggestions sooner but will start immediately on vitamins, etc.
Avatar universal
Lulu, THANK YOU for your support!  I actually slept 2 hours this morning for the first time in 9 days and awoke without being twisted in a pretzel.  I pray that this is the beginning of the end of these withdrawals.  
How long did it take you before you could sleep the night through?  How long before the RLS and body twisting stops?  I walk two miles every day and that seems to help a tiny bit, then at night when the demon enters and I begin the twist & shout, I lift weights and do deep knee bends. I also take hot showers (I've never taken so many showers in my life)  Last night I felt like my shoulder dislocated from the twisting so I put a heating pad on it and realized that was VERY helpful.  I wish I had thought of that earlier.
FENTANYL IS A DEMON DRUG!  At the time it was prescribed for me, I was only suppose to live 3 months - but surprise I beat this disease (Ssc) now I have to beat the Fentanyl drug and then I am home free... I HOPE
I wish I knew exactly how long I can expect to feel the withdrawals.
1985289 tn?1328583194
I have been reading your posts and, my heart breaks and I know exactly how you feel.  Although my demons now come in the methadone form those withdrawels remind me way to much of the past ones I had. I do know what its like to twist and turn all night and feel like your going to die, and I know I need to go through this again to win the battle,  but you are like a super hero going as far as you have to rid your demons, your an encouragement to me as a very new comer to this site. you are awesome!!!!!
1926359 tn?1331591739
You are beating the demon!  Hey listen...You are a survivor and now you're going to not only just survive...You are going to thrive!  Yes...Heat...It's my best friend...(:  The tub, the heating pads...if you have access to a sauna-use it (not steam but infrared)  They have them at health clubs, some tanning salons etc...It really helps the detox process.

It's hard to say how long your symptoms of RLS and insomnia will last.  I have good nights and bad nights at 40 days...But it gets better every day and the key is patience.  The important thing is: You've been through the worst part of Hell and you are on your way back!  Be proud of yourself...Be gentle with yourself...Keep doing all the good things that you are doing to make each moment the best it can be....And just take it one moment at a time.....The first week is the hardest...You can do this..And you ARE doing this....Sending support....Lu
Avatar universal
I must say you are one strong woman and I am so happy you made it through your disease. God has a purpose for you and he was not ready to take you so early. Ur not being tested by god to show your desire to live life. And you are pulling so strong! Ur 75% there and you just have to keep pushing and youll see the light at the end of the tunnel. For me I didnt start sleeping for 10 days. At day 10 I started to get about 2 two hours a day and that lasted for a few days and by 20 days I was sleeping about 5 hours a night. I don't know if it will be as bad for you I was coming off 2 grams iv heroin a day which to be is like 10 100mcg patches a day. It was really nasty and I would never be able to go thru it again. My body would most liekly die if I had to go through the wds I did again. I do not have another one in me. Ive lost too much weight and my immune system hasnt built back up enough yet. The RLS will go away really really soon. You will have anxiety and jitters but they wont be constant and will come and go. I always had chills on and off for about a month. I would get like one or two a day once i got past 2-3 weeks. Hot showers kept me alive the first 2 weeks and they were all they gave me short term relief. The only problem was I never wanted to get out! i was so weak that I had to be carried to the bathroom and they put me in a chair and I sat there with the hot water pouring on me for what seemed like hours. But hey for what i spent on rehab im gunna use all the hot water I want. If you have a tub will it with hot water and epson salts and put on some music and lay back and u may be able to catch some sleep. Sleep is important because your body works 5x extra during sleep to detoxify your body. This is why I say its important to try and wear yhourself out by walking and excersizing like you said you were. 2 miles is great! U should be so proud of yourself. Uve proven your ability to survive and ur not far i promise. Keep posting on here and keep us updated with your situation.
Avatar universal
Gosh... How can I thank all of you for your support!  Thank you is just not enough.
Today as I was taking my two mile walk (After as I said earlier) sleeping for 2 hours for the first time in 9 days - I had such a feeling of euphoria that I just wanted to shout to the Lord, Thank you for getting me through this mess.  
I do feel like I am on the uphill side of this battle now, but tonight will be very telling for me.  I fear the nights the most!  If I can sleep even for an hour without being awaken by the demon twisting, then I will know I have this licked!  
Again, I thank ALL of you for you kind words of wisdom and support!  This is truly the toughest thing I have ever done.  
PS... what's the deal with sneezing all the time?  How weird is that?  
Avatar universal
You dont need to be so thankful to be thank yourself for getting through this im just trying to help those who are in the same spot ive been because it ***** sooo bad. Its great that your sleeping now and thats means alottttttt. Ur body is finally get over the curve and from here on its going to get significantly better each day that passes. Walked is great its going to be one of the only ways besides sex and chocolate lol that will release those natural endorphins right now. Yes I know what you mean about nights thats how it is for most people experiencing wd. Its very interesting that it worsens at night and I would imagine that its simply due to the fact that your less active both mentall and physically. So your sitting around thinking about it thus increasing your anxiety and depression. U also get colder when your less active and nights are usually the time i take a warm shower or bath. U may want to try what I did and switch your sleeping patterns to the day perhaps mid day when your feeling better after a walk. And get a free hours in if u can and at night dont and try and fight it if you know your not going to sleep. Theres nothing worse than laying in bed trying to sleep if you cant sleep. Sneezing is a very common thing in wd I do not know exactly why I would guess its just part of your CNS (central nervous system) being all outta wack. The same reason that you get goose bumps your skin receptors are screaming for something and dont know what to do. The will be the hardest thing youve ever gone through in your life and remember that this can be the last and only time you go through it. Sadly Ive been through the same thing many times but this last one was the worst and was my breaking point. I had hit rock bottom and I wasnt going back. This is the longest I have been sober in 8 years. 6 of those years were strictly (roxys, oxycontin, opana, fent, dilaudid) Last 2 being heroin ived. I never in the world thought I would touch heroin but my addiction to painkillers got so bad and I could no longer afford the pills. I was doing 20 roxy 30mgs a day at my worst. It was disgusting and switching to dope was my only choice. Little did I know than it made it 10x harder to get off of both mentally and pjhysically. I got an addiction to the needles in a very short time. Something I once hated. Now i HATE them all. I dont ever wanna go back to that dark place. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about the first 10 days of my wd. Freaking terrible. Would not wish it upon my worst enemy. Was actually just reading an artical about opiate addiction in the early 20s and 30s. At that time there was little reseach done and help for opiate addicts and of course heroin and morphine was so readily avaiable that they may have well handed it out. Anyways, of about 45,000 dependent paitents this one hospital in the study had over 5k of them commited suicide due to despondency over physical symptoms during the acute detoxification phase. Imagine just being thrown in a paded white room and having to handle that for weeks. I could never do it..i also think that kicking in jail would be a nightmere also. Boy the times have changed huh? Now you can go to a nice comfortable rehab and be given comfort meds like suboxone and methadone and benzos. Anyways before I got lost further on a tangent of my facisnation with opiate addiction I wish end it with again you owe me know gratitude, you are doing this all by yourself and your a very very strong person.. Not many people can come off fentynol cold turkey. Ur doing all the right things too and your not from what I can tell acting depressed. Ur positive about your recovery and thats great. I think that you should start attending some meetings if your feeling up to it as they will give you that same "high" you get from walking. They really make you feel good and give you a boost of confidence. Go for it you got nothing to lose. Take care
1926359 tn?1331591739
You are doing awesome...The sneezing will relent soon and then might come and go (it did for me but never as bad as week one)  That's your respiratory system trying to get rid of the opiates...The exercise is the best thing you can do to work that one out...Think about it like this: the sweating, sneezing, runs, vomiting, tears...All your body weeping out the poison...Try to see it as the positive thing that it is and do what you can to encourage it.  HYDRATE.  You need to replenish and put as many good things into your body as you can.  Are you taking vitamins?  Give your body and brain as much bolstering as you can...
Oh and exercise...chocolate...sex(:  what more could a girl want?  Hot baths.. LOL...

You are doing so well...Keep hanging on and keep posting...Lu
Avatar universal
How you feeling today? Hope it got better and you got a little sleep last night?
Avatar universal
Hi All,
Today is day 11 and I must say thing have improved greatly!  The demon Fentanyl still wants to haunt me but I was able to sleep 3 hours last night and the "Pretzel twisting" wasn't nearly as horrible as they have been.  It did go on for 5 hours last night but milder, much milder.  I can see the light at the end of this hellish tunnel!  
I told my husband that when I am completely this hell that is withdrawals, then I want to have a huge bond fire in the back yard and BURN to dust every last one of those leftover demon Fentanyl patches!  
I can tell you all that the BEST thing I did for myself was walk two miles every day and then lift small weights at night!  That and the L.O.N.G. hot showers saved my life!  I also made sure I was drinking plenty of fluids even when I couldn't eat much.  When I could keep something down I made sure it was high in protein so that my blood sugars didn't dive and make me feel worse.
The reason I tell you this is so that if anyone out there reads this one day and wants to go cold turkey off Fentanyl, then maybe my experience will help them.  You all have been so supportive of me that I want to be able to reciprocate!
I guess what I want to say is this… I prayed for a solid week before I decided to get off the Fentanyl and asked God for the strength to do it.  
I made up my mind that when I started there would be no turning back EVER!  No matter what!
When things went from bad to worse - I prayed for strength… When thing started getting better, I praised God for His help.
I believe God was the one who got me through this mess and as He says, "He will never leave me or forsake me!"  How awesome is that.
I look forward to the day that this journey is behind me and nothing more than a bad dream.
To ANYONE out there without a terminal illness I want to say, no matter how great your pain - do NOT allow the doctors to give you Fentanyl!  Had I know then what I know now, I would never have allowed them to put that first patch on me.
Now I still have an illness that is considered terminal - but I have out lived every other person on this earth with the same diagnosis (Ssc) and even if I die tomorrow I feel like at least I died with my dignity in tacked and not drugged up with Fentanyl!
I will keep everyone posted as to the very DAY that I am back to being myself - just for posterity.  But in the mean time, I can't tell you how much your support has meant to me.  You are a wonderful group of people with big hearts and I wish you all the very best.
Those of you who are thinking about going to detox or taking other drugs to get off Fentanyl - PLEASE don't trade one drug for another… you will just prolong the agony.  
I am such a little whiny wimp - so if I can do it - YOU CAN DO IT TOO!  I will pray for you and support you all the way, day and night if you want!  
Avatar universal
Anytime you are ready to go cold turkey "2010dlk" you just let me know and I will be there for you day and night!  It just takes one time to say ENOUGH!  Then rip the band aid off and get-er-done!  I kept telling myself - I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength... and He did!  Lean on Him and He will get you through it too.  YOU CAN DO THIS!  
Avatar universal
I am so proud of you! You already are sounding like a totally different person. You came to the forums lost, confused, and unsure of yourself and your possibilities. You have proven to yourself that you can accomplish anything and everything that you want to. You are no longer chained to a stupid patch that ***** out your soul. Uve not only beaten your illness but beaten one of the hardest narcotics in the world to get off. And youve done it cold turkey. U fought one on one and you had no help but your own perseverance. Within a few days you will feel better and better and your mind will no longer be clouded by lies and misjudgement. You will be the woman that your husband married once again and youll love yourself for it. Thank you for proving to others here that there is a way out and anything is possible. Keep it up and take one day at a time!
1926359 tn?1331591739
You brought a tear to my eye, Amiga...
What a long way you have come...Don't ever underestimate the power of the brain and a positive attitude...And don't ever underestimate yourself.  You are reclaiming your life and living on your own terms and that is inspirational....Please keep posting and keeping up all your amazing work....Lu
Avatar universal
Day 12... I thought the worse was behind me but last night proved me wrong.  I had horrible withdrawals for 14 hours before they subsided and nothing helped, not even the hot shower or exercises.
I looked up the facts sheet on how long it takes for Fentanyl to be completely out of your system (50% in 17 hours)  then you have to half that again and again every 17 hours to come up with the true number of when it reaches ZERO!  that will be midnight tonight for me.  Which means that until it is completely out of my system I can't even start the count down to recovery.  It could take two or three weeks after my system is completely void of Fentanyl.  YIKES!  That is so scary...  I really thought I had this thing licked but I realize now it was just the beginning.  Oh well - whatever it takes and for however long, I will NOT go back on those demon patches.  Even if it kills me!  
Avatar universal
Day 14
Still not sleeping for than just a few minutes at a time; like 20 minutes then I wake up for hours and sleep for a few minutes just before I get up in the morning.   The nights are just hellish!  still have jerky twisting limbs - I feel like my shoulders and hips are being dislocated.  But the symptoms are getting a little less wicked every day.  Last night at all day today I have sneezed my head off and it will not quit.  The demon Fentanyl is trying VERY hard to get me to put that evil patch back on!  The demon will not win no matter how long this takes.  
Avatar universal
Hi Amiga,

I came off Fentanyl 75mg 4 years ago. It was the hardest thing i have ever done. I was put on it to get me through the head and neck cancer treatment. The help i got from the hospital was terrible. I really feel for you and want to tell you, you are nearly there, just keep going. You need to have loads of hot baths, and cuddles and from loved ones. Having understanding people around you is the way to cope with this. If you can get to a sauna, do that every day. Good luck and wish i could help more !
1926359 tn?1331591739
Hola Amiga...

I wanted to check on you and see if you're still holding strong....I know it's hard but it will get better...Keep battling that demon and be kind to yourself...You've come so far....Sending support....Lu
Avatar universal
Day 16,  I am doing so much better now.  On Wednesday night I slept for nearly 3 hours at one time - woke up without jerking and twisting but stayed awake for the rest of the night.  Then Thursday night I had trouble getting to sleep again because the jerking and twisting returned with a vengeance.  
I know that I am near the end of this mess - but I just wish I knew WHEN I would feel like myself again.  Sleeping through the night and no twisting?  
I can tell you right now, COLD TURKEY is NOT for the faint of heart!  This has been the hardest thing I have ever done.
Avatar universal
Can someone Please let me know how long the most painful cramps and backache will stop It has been 24 days I managed to wean down to 100 from 200 and quit cold turkey among many other opiates,  I don't remember my first few days because they actually strapped me down like a crazy person and form 1 me had a security guard outside my door, not fun.  They gave me valium and clonadine which I guess helped the jerking but anyone with restless legs that is driving them crazy ask your doctor for a small prescription for mirapex it is for restless leg syndrome and that is one thing I haven't had to deal with but I am so tired I feel like I have weighted boots on when I try to do anything. I actually made it through my first day of work but on the second had to go home.  I gave my notice because I have battled addiction for almost 20 yrs and am going to a place for a year but I have to get rid of the withdrawals before they will let me in so if anyone knows how long these cramps and exhaustion lasts please any advice.
Avatar universal
I also just wanted to ask you.  I quit methadone off of 180 cold turkey and it took 6 weeks of no eating or sleeping but my dog got me through but these withdrawals from fentanyl the cramps are so much worse that I went to the hospital to make sure I didn't have an infection and the backache, wow I would prefer to not sleeping to this.  How long have you been off of the methadone now?
3112530 tn?1434035633
I stopped the fentanyl patch(%(mg) cold turkey on June 12. While I was in the hospital the doctors put me on morphine oral 15mg.I did not realize the fentanyl was messing up my need for food and pancreatic problems. The morphine didn't help any so I stopped it also on June 25, 2012. I went cold turkey because I had no choice. Constantly sick as a dog, could not eat, lost a lot of weight. Went to a GI doctor who put me on enzymes to help with the pancreatic problems. (I am not a drinker, the problem was with all the drugs they had me on) The withdrawal is rough but the sleeplessness got the best of me so I went to my primary care doctor who SUGGESTED I go pack on the morphine and he could lower the dosage. Now that did not make a lost of sense to me because I have been off the patch for almost 3 weeks and the morphine for almost two weeks and I refused! I just wanted to get a decent nights sleep. So be gave me Diazepam 5mg. I had to take a couple the first day but then cut back to the prescribed dosage 2.5 as needed. So far this is day two and I have had some reasonable sleep for the first time in weeks. I only take this medication WHEN needed for sleeping. I take Norco 10/325 for pain issues only 2x a day. The is the only other medication I take and have to work through the withdrawal but I am doing it. Yes it is rough. I have been through withdrawal before and I know what to expect. The withdrawal is worth the effort when I see what these meds have done to my pancreas I don't know how long this withdrawal will take but it is definitely worth the try after seeing what the fentanyl did for me ... nothing enough for pain and the morphine was just another drug. to substitute.
I have DJD/DDD issues post op surgery. My family doctor knows my medical history and was only trying to accommodate my pain issues. He also has similar problems and understands what I am going through. I have know my family doctor for 25 years.
My family doctor said I went through the withdrawal too fast and he could not offer me too much medication to help. (This is a VA doctor with a limited pharmacy formulary). Otherwise I would have to join a drug addict support group to get other medication which I am not willing to try. I don't need any more drugs in my system. I need to clean out the drugs that are already in my system and this is the best way I know how.
As mentioned, I stopped the fentanyl patch 50mg on June 12, 2012 and the morphine on June 25th, 2012 and toady is July 8th. At least I can get a decent nights sleep along with vitamins and forcing food into my system weather I like it or not.
This is just my situation and I understand my family doctor was just trying to accommodate my pain issues so I have got to give him some credit for trying but I refuse to go back on these drugs. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS ROAD FOR EVERYONE. Get any type of help you need because it takes a strong mind to overcome what these drugs do to the body. I know what these drugs did to me. There is talk of a pain pump but I am looking for for steroid shots which sometimes have helped in the past. I will leave that up to my pain management doctor. I am sure we have a lot to discuss but my sincere advise is to NOT take the fentanyl patch. The side effects are horrible to to through and there is not enough support out there. I have even written to the company and of course no reply. Morphine might be an easier drug to overcome and my doctor recommend that I go back on the morphine and he could taper me down but I have been off both drugs for two weeks or more and I know I can do this. I have no choice. I know I will never be pain free but I have to learn to live with that but at least I am making progress off the dope medication. Please find out all you can about the side effects of the fentanyl patch. You don't realize what this drug does to your body until after the fact and that is usually too late. I know I will make it.
I am 58 years of age and will investigate other options for pain relief. Please do research before you try any type of drug and watch your symptoms. There is not much a doctor can do when he/she wants to accommodate your pain systems but does not always give you the proper information. I had been on the fentanyl patch since about Jan 1012 and I am done with it now. Never again, it was killing me. I can't tell you how much weight I lost because I am too embarrassed to talk about it.I just want my body to go back to a natural way of healing and I will do what ever it takes to do that. I have had a problem in the past with my pain management doctors because they kept rotating to other hospitals but I got the head of the clinic and hope he can focus on something positive to help with my DJD. It takes a lot of guts and a STRONG mental attitude to go through this but after seeing what the drugs did to my pancreas, I refuse to go through more than my body can handle.  
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