How Long Does Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

Fentanyl is a potent drug that is used to relieve severe pain. One example is the use of fentanyl in epidurals given to women in hospitals for pain relief during childbirth. Additionally, it may be prescribed by medical professionals in a form designed for slower release. These forms may be given to cancer patients or patients with other causes of severe chronic pain. Fentanyl is also manufactured illicitly and sold on the streets to individuals who abuse the drug. Regardless of why someone uses this drug, anyone who uses it should understand how long fentanyl will stay in your system. 

Pharmaceutical vs. Illicit Fentanyl

To understand how long fentanyl will stay in your system, you must first consider whether the drug was illicitly made or not. In other words, was it obtained from a pharmacy via a prescription or not? Obtaining fentanyl via any other means puts in to question how the substance was made and what it’s composition is. Even if a drug dealer claims that the fentanyl is pharmaceutical grade, there is no way to know if this is true without running lab tests. 

How Long Does Illicit Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

Without knowing exactly what the composition is of a substance, there is no way to answer how long it will stay in your system. The main variants that could affect the answer are the potency and whether the substance is cut, or mixed, with other substances. These are also the main reasons why consuming illicit fentanyl is dangerous and unpredictable. 

How Long Does Pharmaceutical Fentanyl Stay In Your System?

The half-life of pharmaceutical-grade fentanyl can range between 2 to 4 hours. This means that after 2-4 hours after fentanyl is consumed, half of the dose has been processed and eliminated from the body and the effects of the drug begin to wear off. As mentioned above, pharmaceutical fentanyl may be prescribed in a slower-release form. Patches and lozenges are examples of these slow-release forms of fentanyl. When fentanyl is administered in one of these forms, calculating the amount of the substance in a patient’s system becomes much more complex. The effects will not begin to wear off until a few hours after the full dose has been administered. 

Drug Testing for Fentanyl

Even when the effects of fentanyl have worn off to the point that they are not felt anymore by the user, that does not mean that the substance has completely left their body. Certain types of drug tests can detect fentanyl for days, weeks, or even months following its use. Below is a breakdown of how long each type of drug test can detect fentanyl use:

  • Blood Test: Up to 48 hours
  • Uring Test: 24-72 hours
  • Hair Test: Up to 3 months

Factors That Affect How Long Fentanyl Is Detected

The reason why a range of time is given for how long fentanyl lasts and how long it stays in your system is that various factors can affect these numbers for any substance. One individual’s body may be able to process drugs quicker than another individual, and the factors are not always obvious. Some of the factors that may affect how long fentanyl stays in an individual’s system include:

  • Liver Function
  • Length of Use
  • Food and water intake
  • Amount of Drug Used
  • Co-drug use

When Fentanyl Withdrawl Develops

Physical dependence can develop to prescription and illicit fentanyl. If a physical dependence is present, then an array of withdrawal symptoms may present as the drug leaves their system and last for several days. Someone who has been using fentanyl for a longer period of time or has taken greater doses than prescribed is more likely to develop dependence. Without professional management, withdrawal symptoms could cause the user to seek out more fentanyl or another opioid to stop the symptoms. This is a sign of an opioid use disorder. An opioid detox program provides effective treatment to manage or prevent opioid addiction.

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