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.
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.
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.