Talk to a Doctor Before Reducing Dosage
There are plenty of legitimate reasons to take prescription opioids. In the midst of so much media attention on the opioid epidemic, prescription medication users might wonder if they’ll be affected.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created a guide for health care providers about appropriate dosage reduction or discontinuation of long-term opioid analgesics. The guide says opioids should not be tapered rapidly or discontinued suddenly to avoid withdrawal risks. The risks for physically dependent patients include exacerbated pain, psychological distress, thoughts of suicide — and the potential that patients may seek other sources of opioids, possibly even illicit opioids, to treat pain or withdrawal symptoms.
However, there are ways to gradually reduce opioid dosage. A recent study found evidence that mind-body interventions such as mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy or clinical hypnosis can help prescription opioid users reduce pain.
If you or a loved one takes prescription opioids, talk to a doctor about when and how to appropriately taper medication use.