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What Is Tapering?

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How Tapering Medications Helps People Beat Drug Addiction

Drug and alcohol withdrawal can be extremely painful, and in some cases, even fatal. Tapering is one strategy to help people detox from drugs safely and minimize their pain and suffering. In relation to medication, tapering means gradually weaning an individual off a substance to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Tapering is often used when detoxing from a wide range of substances, including:

What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms typically include feeling flu-like or feverish. Many people going through drug and alcohol withdrawal have reported the following ailments:

  • Changes in mood and appetite
  • Congestion
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Shakiness
  • Runny nose
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping
  • And more

Each substance comes with different withdrawal symptoms. In severe cases, withdrawal can lead to seizures, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts. Although many people try to taper drugs on their own, you should always consult a doctor before tapering. This is especially true when you are addicted to illegal drugs, any kind of opioid or benzodiazepine, or alcohol.

Is Tapering Only for People Who Are Addicted?

No. Doctors sometimes use tapering when addiction is not an issue. Drugs like opioids and benzodiazepines, for example, can create drug dependence and withdrawal – even with perfect prescription use.

If addiction is not a concern, you may be able to taper off the drug you are dependent on without too much intervention. Nevertheless, you should always taper under the supervision of your doctor and a personalized tapering plan. You may also need extra psychosocial support to get through withdrawal symptoms, which is nothing to be ashamed of.

Alternatives to Tapering

Sometimes, it’s simply not safe to continue using a drug – in any dosage. Heroin, for example, is an illegal opioid. Because it is manufactured and sold on the street, doctors and addiction professionals have no way of knowing if the drug is pure or safe to use.

Instead of giving you more heroin, doctors may use opioid replacement therapy. This alternative to tapering replaces the illegal opioid you are using with a safer, more stable prescription. Once you have stopped using heroin, your doctors will use the replacement opioid in your tapering plan.

Similarly, alcohol is usually not involved in alcohol detox, even though the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. Instead, doctors use controlled doses of benzodiazepines to help you through the worst parts of withdrawal. This is usually referred to as medication-assisted treatment.

When Is Tapering Appropriate?

Medication-assisted treatment is not a valid option for all addictions, and opioid replacement therapy only applies to opioid addictions. If you are having difficulties with another substance, tapering may be the most effective option to help you through. Tapering benzodiazepines may be appropriate, and even methamphetamine has prescription counterparts that doctors can use for tapering.

If you are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, the best place to taper or access medication-assisted treatment is a detox program. At Freedom Detox, all our treatment programs are designed to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms and get unwanted substances out of your body. Detox is one of the hardest steps of recovery, and we will help you get clean and prepare for the next step of your recovery journey.

Learn what it means to be free. Call Freedom Detox at (877) 207-8882 today or contact us online for more information.

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