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Carfentanil Withdrawals: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

Carfentanil Withdrawals: Symptoms, Timeline, & Treatment

Carfentanil is a potent opioid that’s normally used to tranquilize large mammals. It’s 10,000 times more potent than morphine and 100 times more potent than fentanyl, which is another opioid drug that’s become more prevalent as a cutting agent in street drugs. This means that even the smallest amount of carfentanil can kill someone, and long-term use of the drug can lead to severe addiction. For those who are physically dependent or addicted to carfentanil, withdrawal symptoms can make quitting more difficult.


What Is Carfentanil Withdrawal?


As a synthetic opioid, carfentanil can be produced quickly and easily in a laboratory. It’s also a cheap alternative for people with opioid addictions compared to prescription drugs. This makes it easy for drug dealers to add the substance to other drugs like heroin and cocaine so they can make more money with less product and make their drugs more addicting to keep buyers coming back. The drug is also added to counterfeit prescription pills that are falsely sold as opioids, benzos, and others.

Unfortunately, because the sources and ingredients of street drugs are nearly impossible for buyers to determine, many people who are exposed to carfentanil don’t even know it. This is especially dangerous because continued use of carfentanil can quickly lead to physical dependence and addiction. As potent as this drug is, overdose is also a high risk of using this substance.

Carfentanil withdrawal is the result of a developed tolerance to and physical dependence on the drug. These side effects are to be expected when carfentanil is abused for long periods. Withdrawal occurs when a person with drug addiction or dependence hasn’t used the drug for a certain period, drastically reduces their dose, or tries to quit cold turkey.  

As with other opioids, carfentanil withdrawal can be a difficult process. Many addicts who do not undergo medically monitored detox or receive medical support for this process end up relapsing and failing to quit the drug. Attempting a carfentanil detox cold turkey can also be dangerous as the brain and body struggle to readjust to functioning without the substance.


Common Carfentanil Withdrawal Symptoms


Opiate withdrawal symptoms are the brain’s and body’s responses to a sudden lack of or reduction in a particular drug it’s become accustomed to. Because opioids like carfentanil work by binding to opioid receptors and elevating dopamine activity in the central nervous system, a sudden reduction in or lack of the drug following long-term abuse can be a big adjustment for the body.

Over time, because of carfentanil’s effects on dopamine, the brain eventually “forgets” how to produce this chemical on its own. Opioids are also sedatives or depressants that reduce overall neural communication in the CNS, so any communication that’s normally silenced by the drug suddenly jolts awake when it wears off.


As a result, common carfentanil withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Low appetite
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Hot and or cold flashes
  • Sweating
  • Muscle cramps and body aches
  • Excessive yawning
  • Cravings for carfentanil
  • Watery eyes and nose
  • Diarrhea


Carfentanil Withdrawal Timeline


  • 6 – 12 Hours: Carfentanil detox symptoms usually begin around six hours after the person’s last dose. Early withdrawals usually feel like symptoms of the flu, such as body aches, sweating, and nausea. Agitation, anxiety, and restlessness are also present during the early stages of withdrawing from carfentanil.
  • Days 1 – 3: Withdrawals usually peak a few days into detox and may include strong and uncomfortable side effects like muscle spasms, diarrhea, dehydration, and powerful cravings for the drug.
  • Days 4 to 2 Weeks: Longer-lasting symptoms include cravings, depression, mood swings, fatigue, and chills. Post-acute withdrawals can last anywhere from a week to a month or longer.


The severity and duration of carfentanil withdrawal symptoms depend on factors like how long the person has been using the drug and the doses they’re used to taking. The longer a person has been using carfentanil, the worse their symptoms will be.

As with other opioids, withdrawing from carfentanil can be deadly when untreated symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting lead to dehydration and heart failure. This is one of the many reasons why reaching out to a rehab facility like our Illinois drug rehab for opioid detox is important and can even be life-saving.


Carfentanil Detox Treatment


As we previously mentioned, the safest way to detox from drugs is with medical support. Fortunately, our Heartland rehab facility offers illicit and prescription drug detox to help people with all kinds of substance use disorders safely withdraw and to increase their chances of a successful recovery.

For more information about our Illinois inpatient substance abuse treatment, call Banyan Treatment Center Heartland today at 888-280-4763.


Related Reading:

Carfentanil Abuse

Difference Between Carfentanil and Fentanyl

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.