Both illegally purchased opioids and opioid prescriptions given out by doctors are incredibly addictive. Worse, opioids are notoriously hard to quit once an addiction has set in. Withdrawal from opioids and early recovery brings unpleasant and even dangerous side effects. However, with the help of a qualified opioid rehab in Arizona, you can safely get off opiates for good. The keys to success are medical supervision and a careful dosage tapering regimen.
Tapering Your Dosage Can Help Mitigate the Effects of Withdrawals
Opioid withdrawal has a reputation for being highly unpleasant, and that reputation is unfortunately well-deserved. As little as two weeks of opioid use can set your body up for intense withdrawal symptoms.1 The risk of withdrawal is exceptionally high in people who try to quit cold turkey and stop using their opiate all at once.
That’s why doctors who prescribe opiates for pain relief often provide a tapering schedule to help patients gradually reduce their dosage without triggering painful or dangerous side effects. Even if your opiate of choice was obtained illegally rather than from a prescription, it still causes similar effects within your body. Therefore you can still reduce your chances of severe withdrawal by gradually tapering down your dosage.
The exact dosage schedule will vary depending on factors such as the drug you have been using, the dosage you commonly take, and how long you’ve been taking it. In general, expect to reduce your dosage by 10% to 20% every one to three weeks. Of course, this will depend on how your doctor thinks you’re progressing.
What to Expect During the Tapering Phase
You may be able to reduce by 25% to 50% every few days if your doctor has approved you for an accelerated schedule, but just in case, it’s best to plan for the process to take months instead of weeks from start to finish.2
You may be eager to get the process over with, but it’s important not to rush through it to get to the finish line faster. In trials with patients undergoing methadone tapering for heroin, researchers found that the longer the duration and the more gradual the dosage tapering, the higher the chances a patient would successfully avoid relapsing and returning to heroin use.3
Though it may be tempting to taper off opioids on your own, understand that this is incredibly difficult to do without a doctor closely monitoring your use and adjusting your dosage as necessary.
Medically-Assisted Detox and Treatment are Essential to Your Safety
During the tapering process and throughout the rest of the medically critical stages of recovery, your body is at risk of multiple severe symptoms, including potentially fatal dehydration and heart failure resulting from recurring bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.4
It’s easy to think that you’ll have a plan in place before you quit to avoid such intense problems. You may stock your bedside table with clear soft drinks and nausea medications in preparation for the worst waves of stomach upset. But when you’re in the middle of an acute, cold-turkey detox without the help of a doctor nearby, it will be nearly impossible to care for your own needs quickly and efficiently enough to prevent a serious issue from occurring.
During medically supervised withdrawal, a doctor will be right by your side to monitor your vitals and note changes in your blood pressure, temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and the level of opiates remaining in your urine.1 They can tailor your care to reduce or even prevent some of the most unpleasant parts of the withdrawal process.
Reach Out to Desert Cove Recovery for a Professional Opioid Rehab Center in Arizona
If you’re considering quitting opioids, don’t go it alone. Due to the potentially life-threatening nature of opioid withdrawal, it is always best to pursue a detox and recovery plan that includes medical supervision and a scientifically proven tapering schedule. Desert Cove Recovery can refer you to an experienced and professionally trained detox center.
Afterwards, we recommend joining a recovery program, to help you stay sober and beat opiates for good. We provide intensive outpatient programs that allow our patients to live their lives and maintain their day-to-day responsibilities while receiving the tailored and individualized care they need for lasting recovery. Please contact our team for detox referrals and to learn more about our outpatient addiction recovery program
Disclaimer: Do not take any information in this article as medical advice. Always talk to your doctor before starting or discontinuing any medications.