Advice for Tapering Off of Opioids

For a long time, doctors have relied on prescribing opioids as a remedy for intense pain. Since opioids are highly addictive and legally available with a prescription, some patients end up reliant on opioids to not feel pain, or they develop an addiction similar to a heroin addiction, which is also a type of opioid. These drugs can lead to adverse side effects when abused.

The body has a unique way of reacting to any foreign material. When someone takes opioids in higher doses, their bodies may become dependent on the substance. Withdrawal symptoms are common when the body is deprived of its daily doses of opioids. It takes time and effort to taper off opioids, which is why a robust medical intervention should be considered.

Since all patients’ bodies work differently, one opioid taper plan may not work for everyone. Doctors may recommend a specific strategy depending on the following factors.

Outpatient or Inpatient Treatment

A hand holding a clear plastic bag containing pills

Having withdrawal symptoms is typical whenever opioids are being removed from the body. Most of the time, doctors will assess the patient’s level of risk before administering a tapering procedure. Patients with a history of substance abuse, respiratory conditions, or overdose require precise tapering plans to eliminate or reduce opioids in their systems.

Opioid tapering plans are mostly done in an outpatient setting and can be spread over months. If outpatient tapering is unsuccessful, the doctor may tailor an inpatient tapering plan for those at the highest risk. The patient may still need to go through a comprehensive medical assessment before finding an ideal tapering process.

Potential Medication

Tapering off of opioids involves the use of opioid medication. What is in a patient’s system can be used in smaller amounts to taper the substance, or a different opioid treatment can be used in the place of what is in the body. The therapist or doctor can assess whether using the same active ingredient or a replacement opioid is best.

The Duration

The primary goal for introducing a specific opioid taper is to minimize the dose at a speed that will minimize potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. There is no scientific evidence to prove that one opioid taper situation is better than another.

When used correctly, opioids can benefit the patient, but the current opioid crisis has highlighted the dangers associated with highly addictive pain medication. Residents of Cranston, RI who are struggling with opioid abuse can explore resources at Cranston Substance Abuse Task Force to seek rehabilitation help. Contact your trusted community partner today to get help with drug and substance abuse.

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