Tapering Off of Opioids to Avoid Signs of Fentanyl Withdrawal

signs of fentanyl withdrawal

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Signs of fentanyl withdrawal can be incredibly difficult to bear. This is why many drug abusers requite addiction treatment to deal with this drug abuse. Without the right type of treatment, the withdrawal symptoms can be so intense that they can cause death. In most cases, drug addicts simply relapse. Many drug addicts may struggle with a fentanyl addiction for years. They may not seek help for their substance abuse because they believe that they can still control it. Others may have given up in order to avoid the pain and discomfort involved with withdrawals.

Over 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2015. During that year, over 2 million Americans were addicted to prescription drugs, like fentanyl. A further 591,000 people struggled with heroin addiction.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

The best way to sober up from a fentanyl addiction is to get help from specialized treatment centers. One of the most recommended treatments is to slowly taper off of the drug. This means that drug abusers simply take a lower and lower dosage of the drug until they can live without it. At times, drug detox is administered along with a taper schedule. The detox process can ease withdrawal symptoms. It can also make patients feel more comfortable during their stay at the rehab centers. It depends on the severity of the addiction and the type of symptoms that the drug abusers experience.

Quitting cold turkey can be dangerous. It’s not recommended at all. This article will look at how the taper schedule for fentanyl abuse treatment works. To get more information, contact one of our team members. Our staff can walk you through the addiction recovery process, as well as the drug addiction treatment options available. We can help you make an informed decision on what to do next.

How Does a Taper Schedule Look Like?

So how does a taper schedule look like? It will differ from patient to patient. The period of time it takes to wean off of fentanyl will depend on one’s biological makeup, the length of the abuse, whether other drugs were used at the same time, among many other factors. It will also depend on the method of administration. It’s easier to taper off of fentanyl patches than other forms of fentanyl.

Here is a case study of a patient that has been taking 100 μg/hour fentanyl patches. The patches are changed every 72 hours. The patient wants to stop taking the drug because he’s not sure whether it’s effective in treating his pain. It’s also because fentanyl is fairly expensive. Two different taper schedules were proposed.

Taper Schedule #1: Reduce the Dose by 50% Every 6 Days

  • Reduce the patch to 50μg/hour for day 1 to 6
  • Lower the dose to 25 μg/hour for day 6 to 12:
  • Reduce the dose to 12 μg/hour for day 13 to 18
After that, the patient will discontinue taking the fentanyl patch.

Taper Schedule #2: Reduce the Dose by 25 μg/hour (25%) Every 15 Days

  • 75 μg/hour every 3 days × 15 days (1 box of 5 patches)
  • 50 μg/hour every 3 days × 15 days (1 box of 5 patches)
  • 25 μg/hour every 3 days × 15 days (1 box of 5 patches)
  • 12 μg/hour every 3 days × 15 days (1 box of 5 patches)
After that, the patient will also discontinue taking the fentanyl patch.

Both methods are acceptable. It all depends on the withdrawal signs and symptoms experienced by the patient.

For those who are interested in tapering off of fentanyl, medical detox can also help. Some recovery centers recommend providing patients with an immediate-release opioid, like morphine sulfate, to help treat and manage withdrawal symptoms.

fentanyl addiction treatment

Should You Consider an Inpatient or an Outpatient Rehab Program?

Many drug abusers may wonder what level of care they need. The unfortunate truth is that withdrawal signs of fentanyl can be deadly. Neurochemical imbalances in the brain can cause everything to go haywire. When it does, many recovering addicts may lose control over their body and their autonomic functions.

With all this in mind, it’s best to choose an inpatient rehab program when dealing with withdrawal symptoms of fentanyl. This way, medical professionals can monitor your condition around-the-clock. If your symptoms become too intense or are approaching deadly, you’ll go through the detox process.

The drug detox process involves using medications to help stabilize the body. In the case of fentanyl abuse, Opiate Replacement Therapy (ORT) is used. ORT uses weaker opioids that stimulate the same receptors in the central nervous system (CNS). This helps restore the neurochemical balance in the brain. It eases withdrawal symptoms, so patients can transition into recovery with much more ease.

Some of the more common medications used for opioid dependence include methadone and buprenorphine. The type of medication you’re prescribed will depend on what’s available at the drug treatment facility.

An outpatient program can also work. The same can be said with an Intensive Outpatient Program (PHP). With outpatient programs, patients taper off of fentanyl at a much slower rate. A Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is also an acceptable level of care.

Factors Involved with the Taper Protocol

When using the taper schedule as a substance abuse treatment, the medical professionals at drug rehab center must outline the protocol that they follow. If you have any questions or concerns about your fentanyl addiction treatment, ask about the protocols. It can provide you with further insight into how the opioid withdrawal symptoms are dealt with. The various factors involved with a tapering schedule to ease physical dependence on fentanyl include:

  • The formulation of the prescription medication. In most cases, sustained released version of the drug, like a fentanyl patch, is preferred. Patients only switch formulations until they’ve reached an extremely low dose.
  • Dosing intervals. Scheduled doses are preferred. By creating a schedule, it becomes much easier to control the body. Most rehab centers will keep the dosing interval the same for as long as possible.
  • Tapering rate. The rate varies significantly. It depends on the patients and their response to the detox process. Some patients are able to reduce the dose by 10% every day. Others may only be able to reduce the dose by 10% every 1 to 2 weeks. Patients can choose which dose to decrease.
  • The endpoint of taper. So when does this type of treatment for substance abuse end? In most cases, patients will end their taper when they are using less than a 200mg of a morphine equivalent dose. The dose should be able to help ease the pain with very minimal side effects.

The frequency of the visit will depend on the rate of the taper. These factors must be accounted for when creating a taper schedule. Each patient will have a different schedule. Individualized drug addiction treatment can ease addiction withdrawal symptoms and speed up the recovery process. The fentanyl withdrawal timeline can be significantly shortened this way.

Break Free from a Fentanyl Addiction

drug rehab

As one of the most powerful pain relievers, fentanyl alters the brain in unimaginable ways. After taking the drug, fentanyl tightly binds to the opioid receptors found throughout the user’s brain and body. These receptors control the way that the body experiences pain, and as fentanyl floods these receptors with dopamine, a feeling of extreme euphoria and delight overcomes the body. Although dopamine is naturally created by the body, the level at which it is produced comes nowhere near the effects of fentanyl. Unfortunately, this is exactly the reason why so many users become addicted to fentanyl, as they repeatedly attempt to recreate the level of extreme euphoria. The danger with fentanyl is that it binds to opioid receptors that regulate the body’s respiratory activities. If the user takes a lethal dose, his or her breathing can slow down, even completely stop, thus causing death.

With so many fentanyl overdoses happening across the country every day, it is of pivotal importance that you do not become another statistic. Before it’s too late, get the help that you need today at Amethyst Recovery. With experience and compassion, staff at Amethyst Recovery can guide you onto the path of recovery and wellness. Give us a chance to help you become the best you.

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