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Carfentanil Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, Detox

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid and agonist which is 50 to 100 times more potent than fentanyl. The main use of carfentanil is to tranquilize large animals. However, it is being found in street drugs for human use. It is unregulated for human consumption and highly restricted for veterinary purposes, which proves how dangerous this drug truly is. 

This drug is commonly found in heroin as well as counterfeit pills. Carfentanil is a fentanyl analog, and the drug works very quickly upon exposure. The drug is fatal in extremely small doses, making carfentanil responsible for a large number of the drug-related deaths in the United States.

What Are the Carfentanil Withdrawal Symptoms?

The symptoms of carfentanil withdrawal are similar to the withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl, except they are much more extreme. Carfentanil metabolizes in the body slowly, meaning withdrawal symptoms might not begin until one to 1.5 days after the last dose. This varies on how much of it the individual took, how it was administered, and how long they have been using it. Most people who are using the drug sometimes have no idea they are using it. 

Also, carfentanil has no distinct color or smell, so even if someone who is using a drug that might be cut with the substances, there would be no way to determine it. Since carfentanil is a synthetic opioid, the symptoms of withdrawal are similar to other opioids.

Symptoms of carfentanil withdrawal include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Influx of emotions
  • Cold sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Mood swings
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Itchiness
  • Pupil dilation
  • Fluctuating body temperature

What Are the Stages of the Carfentanil Withdrawal Timeline?

Since carfentanil is a long-lasting synthetic opioid, physical withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from two weeks to a month. Within the first 24 to 36 hours, an individual experiencing carfentanil withdrawal might experience symptoms such as:

  • Pupil dilation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Runny nose
  • Increase in tear production
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased irritability

After 36 hours pass, carfentanil withdrawal symptoms usually begin to intensify. The individual might experience a variety of the symptoms above, and they all may occur at the same time. Carfentanil, as well as other opioids, block the pain receptors in the brain. When the drug is absent from the body, it becomes extremely sensitive to pain, causing the symptoms to feel more severe. 

Carfentanil is less likely to be used alone; people who abuse the drug are most likely withdrawing from carfentanil as well as the drug it has been cut with. Carfentanil and fentanyl are used to cut heroin, and depending on the source, an individual could end up detoxing from all three of these drugs at once. 

The physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal can last up to two weeks. However, psychological withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from one to six months after the last dose. These symptoms are classified as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, otherwise known as PAWS. It is during the PAWS phase of withdrawal when an individual is going to struggle the most due to the mental consequences of drug addiction. 

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms consist of:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Intense cravings
  • Drug dreams
  • Restless legs
  • Fatigue
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Emotional instability
  • Inability to concentrate

With carfentanil being an extremely potent substance, it is hard to say how long the withdrawal symptoms last. The drug has an unusually long half-life for an opioid, meaning it stays in the body for a long time. Another factor in determining the length of carfentanil withdrawal is the body’s reaction to the drug and how fast the body can recover from a substance like carfentanil. 

There is very little research on the actual timeline of carfentanil withdrawal due to it recently emerging in society for human consumption. Based on what we do know about carfentanil, it is extremely dangerous, and withdrawal is intense. 

Quitting any opioid “cold turkey” can set an individual up for failure in recovery due to the physical and psychological pain one must endure during the detox process.

Why Should I Detox?

Detoxing from carfentanil in a medical facility is the safest bet for those who abuse the drug as well as other opioids similar to it. It is imperative for those who are addicted to drugs to receive proper medical care when attempting to get clean. Many complications can possibly arise from the removal of narcotic substances in the body. 

why detox

Although carfentanil is known to cause death when the individual is actually taking the substance, this does not mean they are exempt from running into health complications during withdrawal. 

The outstanding number of fatalities caused by carfentanil should be the deciding factor to quit the drugs that put individuals at a higher risk of coming in contact with it. Carfentanil withdrawal symptoms may never even appear in an individual’s life due to the high risk of death caused by the use of this drug. 

When using opioids as strong as carfentanil, the emotional and mental ties to the drug can cause difficulties when trying to quit, especially for intravenous drug users. Detoxing in a medical facility will highly benefit those who are trying to end their addiction. A detox facility will help ease the discomfort of withdrawal as well as use proven treatment methods to treat all aspects of addiction

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Detox is the beginning stage in treating addiction. To sort through the mental and emotional aspects of drug use, the individual needs to have the drugs removed from the body. Next, they will be recommended to attend an inpatient facility where they will better understand addiction and living life without the use of drugs that will only end in death. 

With carfentanil taking more lives than ever recorded in recent years, abusers of the drug are strongly suggested to continue their recovery with a long-term treatment program. These facilities are a great tool and lead to success at the beginning of an individual’s recovery journey.

There are many different types of facilities to help individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol to overcome their issues as well as learn how to cope with life without the use of substances. Inpatient treatment also gives the individual time away from the drug and a safe environment to express themselves around people who are dealing with the same issues.

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Although outpatient treatment is also an option, inpatient facilities might have a higher success rate, especially for people who abuse opioids and carfentanil. However, outpatient treatment after an inpatient stay can improve an individual’s chances at remaining sober by keeping them in therapy sessions that hold them accountable. 

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

Carfentanil use is taking a toll on opioid users in the United States. It is not only keeping people addicted to drugs, but it is taking lives across the entire nation and aiding in the opioid epidemic. The potency of carfentanil is extremely high and dangerous for human consumption, yet it is finding its way into the streets. Carfentanil has caused hundreds of accidental overdoses recently, and it is among the most dangerous drugs on the streets today. You or your loved one doesn’t have to become another statistic. At Ocean Breeze Recovery, our trained professionals are available 24/7 to assist you or a loved one with any questions or concerns about addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call (844) 554-9279 today or connect with us online. It is never too late to ask for help, so why wait? Addiction is a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease and it cannot be conquered alone. We are here to help.


U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Just Think Twice. Five Quick Facts: Carfentanil. Retrieved from

Mental Health Daily. (n,d). Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment. Retrieved from

SAMHSA. (January ,2019). Behavioral Health Treatments and Services. Retrieved from

healthline. (2020, February 24) Opiate Withdrawal: What It Is and How to Cope with It. Withdrawal symptoms and timeline. Cherney, K. Retrieved from

NIDA. 2020, (May 29). Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved from

(January, 2019).Opioid Overdose Crisis. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved January, 2019 from

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