General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Urgent. If someone is undergoing fentanyl withdrawal cold turkey, what's the best thing I can do?

Asked by Jeruba (55878points) 1 week ago

I don’t think details are necessary.

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8 Answers

flutherother's avatar

This is what ChatGPT4 says…...
Helping someone withdraw from fentanyl is a complex process that requires medical supervision and a comprehensive approach. Here are the key steps to support someone in this situation:

1. Seek Professional Medical Help
Consult a Doctor: Withdrawal from fentanyl can be dangerous and should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Detox Programs: Enroll the person in a medically supervised detox program where they can receive appropriate care and monitoring.

2. Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Methadone: Can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Buprenorphine: Helps manage withdrawal symptoms and can be prescribed by certified physicians.
Naltrexone: Blocks the effects of opioids but is generally used after detoxification.

3. Create a Supportive Environment
Emotional Support: Be empathetic and patient. Offer emotional support and understanding.
Stable Environment: Ensure the person is in a safe and stable environment free from triggers
.
4. Counseling and Behavioral Therapies
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Helps change the patterns of thinking and behavior related to drug use.
Support Groups: Encourage participation in groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

5. Address Physical Health
Hydration and Nutrition: Ensure they stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet to support their body during withdrawal.
Manage Symptoms: Over-the-counter medications can help with symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, but should be used under medical advice.

6. Long-term Treatment and Follow-up
Ongoing Therapy: Continued counseling and therapy sessions can help maintain sobriety.
Relapse Prevention: Develop strategies to handle potential triggers and high-risk situations.
7. Educate Yourself and the Person Withdrawing

Understand Addiction: Learn about the nature of fentanyl addiction to better understand what the person is going through.
Withdrawal Symptoms: Educate both yourself and the person about what to expect during withdrawal.

Key Points to Remember:
Do Not Attempt Alone: Fentanyl withdrawal can lead to severe symptoms that require medical intervention.
Be Patient: Recovery is a long process with potential setbacks.
Encourage Professional Help: The success rate is higher with professional intervention.
Always prioritize safety and professional guidance when dealing with fentanyl withdrawal.

fentanyl cold turkey
ChatGPT
Quitting fentanyl “cold turkey,” or abruptly stopping its use without medical support, can be extremely dangerous and is not recommended due to the severe withdrawal symptoms and potential health risks involved. Here are the reasons why and the steps that should be taken instead:

Dangers of Quitting Fentanyl Cold Turkey
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms: Symptoms can include intense cravings, anxiety, agitation, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe abdominal cramps.
Health Risks: The stress on the body can lead to serious complications, including dehydration, heart problems, and in severe cases, death.
High Risk of Relapse: The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms can make it very difficult to stay off the drug without professional help, leading to a high risk of relapse.
Safer Alternatives to Quitting Cold Turkey
Medical Supervision:

Detox Programs: Enroll in a medically supervised detox program where healthcare providers can monitor and manage withdrawal symptoms safely.
Hospitalization: In severe cases, hospitalization might be necessary to ensure the person’s safety.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):

Methadone: Helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone): Reduces withdrawal symptoms and can be prescribed by certified physicians.
Clonidine: Sometimes used to alleviate certain withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping.
Gradual Tapering:

Controlled Reduction: Under medical supervision, the dose of fentanyl can be gradually reduced to minimize withdrawal symptoms. This approach is generally safer and more manageable than quitting abruptly.
Steps to Take for Safe Withdrawal
Consult a Healthcare Professional: The first step should always be to talk to a doctor or addiction specialist. They can provide a personalized treatment plan.

Enroll in a Treatment Program:

Inpatient Treatment: For severe addiction, inpatient programs provide comprehensive care, including medical supervision and psychological support.
Outpatient Programs: For less severe cases, outpatient programs offer flexibility while providing necessary medical and therapeutic support.
Supportive Care:

Hydration and Nutrition: Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial to help the body recover.
Symptom Management: Over-the-counter medications can be used to manage symptoms like nausea and diarrhea, under medical guidance.
Counseling and Therapy:

Individual Therapy: Addresses the psychological aspects of addiction and helps develop coping strategies.
Group Therapy and Support Groups: Provides emotional support and shared experiences from others who have gone through similar struggles.
Key Points to Remember
Do Not Attempt Alone: The risks associated with quitting fentanyl cold turkey are high, and it should not be attempted without professional help.
Seek Immediate Help for Severe Symptoms: If severe withdrawal symptoms occur, seek immediate medical attention.
Recovery Takes Time: Be patient and supportive, as recovery from fentanyl addiction is a long-term process that involves both physical and psychological healing.
Always prioritize safety and professional guidance when dealing with fentanyl withdrawal.

seawulf575's avatar

While I wouldn’t suggest detoxing at home, it can be done. For the others in the home (such as yourself), having plenty of fluids and electrolytes on hand is probably one of the key physical aspects you can control. The danger in most opiate withdrawals is dehydration and the loss of key electrolytes (such as sodium) that can result in heart failure.

The “good” news is that the length of time for the worst of the symptoms is relatively short…a week or less with the worst only a couple of days. The bad news is that those symptoms are a broad spectrum. There will be physical impacts such as nausea, vomiting, severe aches and pains, etc, but there will also be psychological ones such as restlessness, irritability, paranoia, etc. Often the user will want to take more of the drug just to stop the symptoms.

The person detoxing will pull on your heart strings in a dozen different ways. They will lash out at you in anger. They will plead with you to let them use again. They will act as if you are doing all this to them. If you are trying to help them, take all this with a huge grain of salt and be strong. And you have to remember that there is going to be longer term impacts from the withdrawal. They may decide to use again months and even years later. You will need to be supportive of them for quite some time to come. That is almost harder for you than the detox because it is so long term. And being supportive isn’t coddling. You and the person will need to understand what drove this person to being an addict in the first place and work through that.

My daughter wasn’t using fentanyl (that I know of) but was hooked on heroin. For her, the real root of the issue was self-esteem. She didn’t see herself as a good person. As a result, she would try to do things to look “cool”. She would cling to the worst kind of guy because she felt that if she could “fix” him and make him a good guy it would show her worth. And the drugs came into play with all these things. After she had dug herself into a hole a mile deep, she added self-pity to the long list of things that impacted her self-esteem. If anything bad came up (her insurance got dropped, the legal system continued to hound her, even friends and family not trusting her) she would get to where she felt it couldn’t be done. She had to understand that yes, bad things happen in life and we just have to deal with them and keep moving. And many of the things that were making her feel this way are going to go away on their own. The legal system will eventually work through all the garbage she created, the people in her life will start trusting her again after she shows them she can be trusted, etc. It took some time but she made it and has turned the corner. Been clean for many years now and has a relatively happy life now.

Smashley's avatar

Seek medical attention

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I worked at a well known private Psych hospital 60 years ago, we never took in a patient that needed to detox. Too many things during detox that may need medical intervention.

Caravanfan's avatar

Take them to the hospital.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Withdrawal, at minimum, is a living Hell. It can be fatal.
Treated facilities, can provide drugs to ease that some, and most importantly monitor the person.

If they are at the point where they will quit, take the momentum and try to make sure it is supervised.

To some. Treatment facilities, can be more helpful than one would think.
Everyone there, is going through something pretty bad. That can help the withdrawl for many.

In most cases, a person (regardless of how great,) will struggle mightily, if not certainly fail to just suddenly aquire self discipline.
That’s not uncommon.
Attempts at getting off of a substance, should be given every opportunity to work.

Quitting, is just a 1st step.

It’s a life-long process, that will be fragile, and is simply not a one person thing.

But YES, it can be done.

As Wulf said, it can be done, but what a dice roll.

I would add, you don’t want to become an “enemy” to the person you are trying to help.
When detoxing, the person will be very emotionally unstable.
Best to have them in an environment where he can eventually leave, but enlist in a drug program.

Such things can ONLY happen, with the will of the person needing help.
If they are willing, there’s a way.
Good luck.

Strauss's avatar

I agree with @Caravanfan and others: get them to a hospital! Withdrawal from opioids/opiates is dangerous and should be done with professional support.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks very much for your good and thoughtful responses.

He finally agreed to go to the hospital around midnight last night. I called 911.

He’s absorbed a lot of 12-step wisdom over his lifetime. So have I. I do have that going for me.

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