Opioid Detox: Safest Way to Taper off Opioids

We often tell ourselves that we can “power through” and detox off of opioids through will power alone. However, the statistics of successful detox are bleak. The percentage of individuals detoxing independently are even smaller when measuring if they were able to achieve continued abstinence

The side effects of opioid detox without medical care can easily turn into medical emergencies and even prove fatal.

Individuals are much more likely to relapse without continued medical and mental health care and fatal overdose is significantly higher after periods of sobriety.

Read more about opioids and the right and wrong ways to go about opioid detox, reaching out for professional help is the first step to successful recovery.

What Are Opioids? Opioids include both prescription and non-prescription substances such as

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone 
  • Oxymorphone
  • Morphine 
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin

When to Stop Taking Opioids?

Illegal Opioids (such as heroin or improperly allocated prescriptions) should never be used as  they are entirely unregulated and often prove fatal.  Prescription Opioids should only be used as a short-term solution.

Most patients who are using prescriptions can stop before two weeks of use without any negative side effects; however, if these drugs are used for more than two weeks, it can be difficult to stop taking them; dependance and addiction is likely to occur.

According to Mayo Clinic, here are some symptoms of opioid withdrawal that you should be aware of:

  • Runny nose, watery eyes, and yawning
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Irritability or mood disturbances
  • Increased pain
  • Goosebumps on the skin, chills, or sweating
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Muscle cramping and joint pain
  • Tremors or muscle twitching
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Thoughts of suicide

These reactions are very serious and can feel impossible to overcome.

This is why it is extremely important to follow the rules that your doctor and pharmacist have presented.

Tapering Off Opioids

As previously mentioned, opioids can be very addicting and abuse is unfortunately common. When a person decides to stop and seek help, some ways are safer and more successful than others.

Many people think that quitting “cold turkey” will be the easiest path, but this is highly ill-advised. When a person quits abruptly without the guidance of a doctor, they risk going through the withdrawal symptoms by themselves. This is very hazardous to a person’s health, and the chance of relapsing is extremely high.

Medical and mental care is crucial for efficient rehabilitation. Rather than quitting opioid use cold turkey, experts recommend a slower, more effective process called tapering. Instead of instantly removing the drug from a person’s system, doctors slowly wean the patient off of the drug, reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and increasing the odds of successful rehabilitation.

The Process

The process of opioid detox is different for each person and a doctor will create a specific plan to meet the needs of the individual. When the tapering process begins, doctors will:

  • Monitor vitals such as blood pressure and heart rate
  • Regularly collect blood and urine samples to see how much drug is left in the system
  • Receive a thorough medical history from the patient, family members, and other health care providers
  • Introduce other pain therapies
  • Prescribe other medications to help with any withdrawal symptoms

Safely Taper off Opioid Addiction with Steps Recovery Centers

If you or a loved one is ready to begin their path to recovery with opioid detox, Steps Recovery Centers is here for you. We are proud to take a holistic approach to drug addiction rehabilitation that includes healing the mind, body, and spirit.

We have several locations throughout Utah including Orem, Payson, St. George, Draper, and Murray. Reach out to get started on your path to healing today.