Millions of people in the United States report using heroin each year. About 60 percent of those who use heroin are physically dependent on it or addicted to it.
Getting off heroin for good can be difficult. Physical dependence on heroin can trigger withdrawal symptoms in people who try to stop taking it all at once.
One method for quitting heroin is tapering off heroin gradually.
What Does It Mean To Taper Off Heroin?
Tapering is a process of slowly reducing the amount of a drug a person is taking. This process can be used to withdraw from a prescription medication, alcohol, or an illicit drug like heroin.
Unlike quitting heroin cold-turkey, tapering off heroin is a gradual process. You do not stop taking heroin all at once, but reduce the amount taken over a period of time.
Within a detox program, or with a medical doctor, the tapering method may involve the use of medications like methadone or buprenorphine to help a person reduce their drug use. This can help treat heroin withdrawal symptoms.
Is Tapering Off Heroin Safe?
Trying to taper off heroin can be dangerous. Heroin is often mixed with other drugs and cutting agents, which can complicate the detox and withdrawal process.
Tapering off heroin might not be safe for everyone. If you want to taper off heroin, it’s highly recommended that you consult a trusted medical professional for guidance.
The safest method for getting off heroin is to enter a medical detox program. This type of detox program can offer medical supervision and medication to treat withdrawal symptoms.
What Are The Dangers Of Tapering Off Heroin?
Tapering off addictive drugs like heroin comes with certain risks. Without a strategic plan and medical support, this method of getting off heroin can be risky.
Risks and dangers of tapering off heroin include:
- prolonging the withdrawal process
- risk of relapse without medical supervision and support
- risk of fatal overdose if a person tries to return to previous dosage amounts
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Tips For Tapering Off Heroin
Achieving sobriety from heroin doesn’t look the same for everyone.
If you or a loved one is looking for how to taper off heroin, consider these safety tips:
Seek medical support: Don’t try to taper off alone. Although it can be intimidating to talk to a doctor about heroin use, a doctor can help create a safe tapering plan and monitor you for medical concerns. They may be able to prescribe medication to help.
Identify your support system: Find trusted friends or family members who can be with you or check in with you regularly as you begin tapering your heroin use.
Make a plan: Tapering off a drug safely requires making a safety plan. You might consider how or where the heroin will be stored, how you plan to keep yourself accountable, and who can call for help if there’s an emergency. The safest way to create a safety plan is with a doctor.
Prepare for withdrawal symptoms: If you’ve become addicted to heroin, trying to get off it may make you feel physically sick. Stay hydrated, eat, and stick to your safety plan.
Ask for help: Asking for help in times of need is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you’re struggling with the tapering process, call your doctor, a trusted friend, or an addiction hotline for assistance.
What Is The Alternative To Tapering Off Heroin?
Tapering off heroin may not be right for everyone. The safest way to stop using heroin is to find a medical detox program through a rehab facility, detox center, or another medical setting.
Benefits of a detox program include:
- medication for withdrawal symptoms
- quicker process than tapering
- reduced risk of medical complications
- opportunity to get a referral for further treatment
While this can still be a difficult process, stopping heroin through an acute detox program can be an effective way to begin the road towards addiction recovery.
Detox is just the first step. For many people, recovering from heroin addiction requires additional treatment such as medication, substance use counseling, and behavioral therapy.
Call To Find A Heroin Detox Program Today
Whether you’re interested in tapering off heroin or beginning an acute detox program, seeking professional support can be crucial for people who are addicted to heroin.
If you or a loved one is addicted to heroin, call our helpline today to find a heroin detox program that’s right for you.
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- Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services—HHS Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics
- Mental Health Clinician—A practical guide to tapering opioids
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse—What are the treatments for heroin use disorder?
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus—Opiate and opioid withdrawal