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New recommendations for tapering off opioids

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

Eminem released his album "Relapse" in 2009; "Recovery" followed in 2010. In that second album, he details his addiction to prescription opioids: 10 to 20 Vicodin a day, as well as Xanax and Valium. But he is one of the lucky ones. In April of this year, he was 11 years sober.

For many folks, there's a different ending: Around 1.7 million Americans have a diagnosable addiction to prescription opioids such as hydrocodone. A lot of folks take these medications to treat chronic pain (it afflicts 50 million Americans), and 8% to 12% develop a life-changing dependency.

But if you're taking opioids and want to reduce or stop your use of them, that can be tricky business. That's why Health & Human Services has issued guidelines for tapering off opioids that they say are effective and will cause the user the least distress and physical or psychological harm. (Google: "HHS Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics.")

The basics are:

-- Slow tapering (those who have been taking the medication for 1+ years): Reduce intake by 10% or less a month over months or years depending on starting dose.

-- Fast tapering (those who have been taking the medication for weeks or months): Reduce dose by 10% to 20% every week, until 30% of the original dose is reached. Then decrease by 10% of the remaining dose weekly.

 

Don't do this alone: Work with your doctor and pain management specialist to protect yourself from unmanaged withdrawal symptoms and dangerous relapse.

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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.
 

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