Treatment Care & Tips
A Safe Way to Stop Taking Opioids
As your recovery progress continues, there comes a time when opioids are no longer necessary. As you begin to transition, or your prescriptions are no longer being refilled, we want to ensure that you have a safe way of stopping or tapering opioids. Stopping opioid use can be tough enough on its own. Combined with the feeling of pressure or judgment from others makes it even more challenging. At Gateway, we’re here to provide help; never judgment or pressure.
What is tapering?
Tapering is a medication withdrawal plan designed to help you slowly stop the use of opioids instead of going “cold turkey.”
Why is tapering a good idea?
Tapering, or slowly stopping, helps avoid symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Some of the symptoms can be severe including:
- Having flu-like symptoms
- Experiencing fatigue, restlessness or anxiety
- Having trouble sleeping, hallucinating or getting tremors
- Feeling nauseous and vomiting, having abdominal cramps or diarrhea
- Increasing heart rate and blood pressure1
When is a taper necessary?
If you’ve been taking opioids for more than two weeks, you may need to taper off of them, even if that was the length of your original prescription.
Signs you may need to taper:
- You feel you don’t need them anymore
- Your condition may respond better to other medications or procedures
- You have bothersome side effects
- You are worried about or show signs of substance abuse disorder2
How long does a taper last?
A taper can be as short as a few days or as long as a few months. It all depends on the strength of your current dose of opioids and how long you’ve been using opioids.
Is tapering a safe option for me?
The best person to answer that question is a doctor. They will be able to help you come up with a safe tapering plan. If you are in need of a primary care provider, our Find a Doctor tool can help you out.
Remember, you’re in a safe place. If you seek help from a doctor, he or she may ask you a few questions about your opioid use. It’s okay to answer honestly; in fact, it’s best for you if you do. Your answers to these questions are only used to help you, never to get you in trouble.