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How to Wean Off Opioids

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola

how to wean off opioids

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  • Guidelines for tapering off opioids recommend gradually reducing 5 to 10 percent of the morphine-equivalent dose every two to four weeks and switching from immediate-release opioids to extended-release on a fixed schedule
  • Research shows 15 percent of complex surgical patients develop severe postoperative pain leading to extended use of opioids. Implementing a transitional pain program helped nearly half of those who had not used opioids prior to surgery to wean off the drugs. Among those who had already used opioids prior to surgery, 1 in 4 was able to quit
  • To help patients manage their pain, the program uses a variety of methods, including nonopioid medications, exercise, acupuncture and mindfulness training
  • Opioids killed 33,000 Americans in 2015 and nearly 42,250 in 2016. The death toll is still trending upward, as overdose cases admitted into emergency rooms increased by more than 30 percent across the U.S. between July 2016 and September 2017
  • Studies show addiction affects more than 1 in 4 of those using opioids for chronic noncancer pain, and 1 in 550 patients die from opioid-related causes within 2.5 years of their first prescription

Opioids, narcotic painkillers, killed 33,000 Americans in 2015, and nearly 42,250 in 2016 — over 1,000 more deaths than were caused by breast cancer that same year — and the addiction trend shows absolutely no signs of leveling off or declining.

On the contrary, recent statistics suggest the death toll is still trending upward, with more and more people abusing these powerful narcotics. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overdose cases admitted into emergency rooms increased by more than 30 percent across the U.S. between July 2016 and September 2017. Overdose cases rose by:


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