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Detox is an essential part of substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment. It is defined as “a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. It denotes a clearing of toxins from the body of the patient who is acutely intoxicated and/ or dependent on substances of abuse.” As more substances of abuse come to market, and addiction rates continue to steadily rise, new methods of treatment emerge, including different approaches to detox. Some of the more recent developments and detox techniques that have become commonly adopted practices involve drug tapering. 

Drug tapering entails weaning a person off an abused substance to ease withdrawal symptoms. To standardize this practice, the American Society of Addiction Medicine provides clinicians and physicians with a set of guidelines that help them safely and effectively taper patients off substances of abuse. As described by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, tapering can make it easier to manage continued drug treatment after withdrawal with a decreased chance of relapse to drug use. There are three primary methods of drug tapering: 

  • Direct tapering: Direct tapering involves reducing the amount of a drug that an individual takes gradually. Most often, the amount of the substance consumed is slowly decreased on a weekly basis, until the individual can fully cease use without experiencing any unmanageable withdrawal symptoms. The direct tapering method can be used with several different types of drugs (e.g., opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants, etc.), and is most effective with substances that do not build up in the bloodstream or when an individual has been consuming high doses of a long-acting substance.
  • Substitute tapering: Certain short-acting, or low-dose substances do not allow for a direct taper. Substitute tapering involves replacing the original substance of abuse with controlled amounts of a similar medication, one with a lower abuse potential, easier withdrawal characteristics, and more easily tapered. Substitution tapering works well for substances that are difficult to measure during the point of addiction (e.g., illicit drugs, alcohol, etc.), and can also be used for drugs that are highly addictive, such as opioids.
  • Titration tapering: Titration tapering is the method of lowering the dosage of an abused substance through dilution. The substance of abuse is diluted in water or any other liquid to decrease the amount ingested by small amounts daily. 

The type of tapering method recommended is determined on a case-by-case basis. An individual’s medical history and current condition will inform which of the three tapering methods is used. Drug tapering should be done only under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional. The efficacy of drug tapering relies on a doctor’s support and guidance, often with the help of an addiction treatment expert, who can ensure the taper is being performed correctly.

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com

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