How to Taper off Fentanyl Patch Without Withdrawal

Fentanyl is among the deadliest of all drugs currently available, both clinically and on the black market. It is one of dozens of opioids contributing to a vast quantity of dependencies, substance use disorders, overdoses and deaths happening across the country. Fentanyl is at the forefront of this noxious epidemic — unseating even heroin from the top spot as the most dangerous opioid around.

In 2016, over 20,000 overdose fatalities were linked to fentanyl. This surpassed all prescription opioid and heroin casualties by several thousand and resulted in approximately 1/3 of all drug-related deaths that year. Fentanyl use, overdoses and fatalities are rising at astronomical rates each year — even doubling from 2015 to 2016.

A vast majority of these deaths are caused by the illicit version of the drug. The original variety of fentanyl, which still exists and is administered for pain relief to this day, came in the form of medicinal patches. Whatever shape it may take, there is no denying fentanyl’s raw strength. Morphine, the baseline opioid used in the field of medicine, is 100 times weaker than fentanyl. Plus, fentanyl is somewhere in the range of 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin. An amount equivalent to a few granules of salt can kill a full-grown adult with ease.

Illegal and medical fentanyl can lead to debilitating substance use disorders. Anyone who finds themselves stuck in its deadly and addictive embrace must find a way out. While the country tries to initiate all-out war against fentanyl itself, rehabilitation centers are ready to fight for its victims. The battle begins inward — forcing the drug out of one’s body and life alike. A medically sanctioned detox, a taper, can purge mind and body of fentanyl’s hold once and for all.

Fentanyl Taper Schedule | How to Taper Off Fentanyl Patch Without Withdrawal
As mentioned above, fentanyl comes in two main varieties: a medical patch and an illicit powdery substance. Given the short amount of time it takes to achieve a high, overdose or pass away from the illegal version of the drug, an at-home taper may not be the best course to take. It may simply be too difficult to reduce dosages on one’s own. Not to mention, this type of fentanyl varies in potency from batch to batch, making what was already difficult virtually impossible. If someone is suffering from a substance use disorder from black-market fentanyl, it is recommended they seek medical intervention to begin an opioid replacement therapy. When discussing a fentanyl taper in this context, it will be in reference to tapering off the fentanyl patch, not powder. What exactly is a taper? The name truly says it all: It’s a weaning technique. Physicians put their patients on a fentanyl taper schedule to help them ease off of fentanyl gradually. There are endless risks associated with quitting the drug, or any opioid, cold turkey. Perhaps chief of which being a hazardous opioid withdrawal. By design, a fentanyl taper seeks to avoid withdrawals by allowing the central nervous system to adapt to the drug’s absence on its own. While the goal is to stop fentanyl use, doing so without a buffer period subjects the entire body to unnecessary and painful side effects. People often like to say, “time heals all things” — tapering is putting that into action.
Many top web searches for those looking for treatment for fentanyl want to know the same thing — how to taper off fentanyl patch without withdrawal. Obviously, opioid withdrawals have a reputation for being unpleasant affairs, and for good reason. The dread of withdrawing can stall any potential progress toward recovery. Depending on how frequently the substance is used, this experience can last a week or longer. So, what exactly does someone who doesn’t taper, or doesn’t do so correctly, have in store for them?
  • Aching muscles
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Runny nose or watery eyes
  • Profuse sweating
  • Cramps in the abdominals
  • Psychological symptoms like cravings or depression
Some stronger opioids like fentanyl can also lead to post-acute-withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS for short. This is a prolonged withdrawal experience where individuals may have lingering side effects for up to years after the fact. If there were a need for any more justification for choosing a taper, this would be it. The best way to avoid withdrawal is to have your doctor craft a unique fentanyl taper schedule. These plans are custom-made for each patient’s needs, with times, dosages and goals that are simple to follow and track progress. There are any number of avenues a taper schedule could take. Some patients can switch between 50 mcg and 25 mcg fentanyl patches. Others can transition to another opioid such as Vicodin before beginning. In addition, some physicians may move their fentanyl patients to a replacement therapy regimen. With this practice, an individual will taper off a more stable medication such as methadone or Suboxone. Whichever path is chosen one fact remains clear: a slower taper is often a safer taper. As such, a reduction of 10–25 percent of fentanyl doses per week may prove to be effective. Reductions of 50 percent are not out the question for some cases, too. But, no matter the taper trend, it is not advisable to cut open one’s fentanyl patches without a doctor’s consent. Some patches have the ability to release all the medication at once if tampered with. This leaves the body susceptible to overdose complications. Fortunately, this is usually not an issue in a clinical setting, where doses are monitored precisely and mathematically. When done at a reasonable rate, fentanyl withdrawals can be prevented with a taper. Trained medical personnel will do their best to make sure the treatment process is as comfortable and, ultimately, as successful as possible.  

Fentanyl is not a drug to be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is struggling with fentanyl addiction, contact a medical professional as soon as possible. Rehabilitation programs like those offered at The Recovery Village can be instrumental in helping people recover from substance use disorder. Call 352.771.2700 today to learn more about treatment, or to sign up for a comprehensive rehab program for fentanyl. 

How to Taper off Fentanyl Patch Without Withdrawal
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