Taking Patients Off Opioids Rapidly Could Do More Harm Than Good

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According to the latest reports coming from Reuters Health, forcing patients to get off opioid painkillers could sometimes have worse effects. This came as a warning from international medical experts in an open letter to the health authorities.

The letter was published in the journal Pain Medicine, and it highlights the risks that are associated with forces tapering of the addictive drugs.

Developing less aggressive guidelines 

The letter basically pleads with the US policymakers to establish guidelines that are not so aggressive and unrealistic.

Almost 18 million Americans are users of opioid painkillers for a long time, and this is due to chronic pain.

In the midst of the opioid addiction crisis that killed thousands of lives, health regulators and the entire medical community has doubled down on reducing the number of opioid pills that are prescribed to patients.

It seems that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advocates tapering and in rare instances also discontinuing opioids in patients who have been using them as long-term therapy for chronic pain.

On the other hand, it’s important to note that the letter also says that mandated opioid tapers that require aggressive dose reductions over a certain period even if this period is a more extended one, could trigger some severe issues.

They call for “compassionate systems for opioid tapering” in carefully selected patients, with close monitoring and realistic goals. They also call for “patient advisory boards . . . to ensure that patient-centered systems are developed and patient rights are protected.”

“The assumption that forced opioid taper is reliably beneficial is not supported by evidence, and clinical experience suggests significant harm,” said Ajay Manhapra of Yale University, who co-authored the letter.

What can forced tapering cause for patients?

It seems that forced tapering can destabilize patients and lead to a worse pain, while also precipitating severe opioid withdrawal symptoms and trigger profound loss of function.

Patients may also seek other solutions that could be deadly.