Opioid Medication Tapering—Study Finds Doctors are Ripping Off the Band-Aid Too Fast
Studies are finding that in general prescribing physicians are decreasing doses of opioid medications too quickly (Moore, 2019). In a study completed by the CDC, they found that in many cases, doctors were dropping a patients’ dose by up to 30% per month, which is three times what the CDC recommends for patient titration off opioid medications, particularly in long term users (CDC, 2016).
According to a 2016 study by the CDC, the most appropriate course of action to take relative to reducing the dose of a long-term opioid user (90 days or longer on opioids) is to reduce the strength by 10% per month over the course of time.
It is not difficult to imagine the many problems associated with moving too quickly through a process as difficult and as sensitive as treating a life-threatening addiction. The patient is more likely to experience the awful physical side effects of coming off an addicting medication, to include physical pain, sickness and discomfort. Coming off of an addictive, brain altering medication can impact someone’s mental health detrimentally. Human nature is to want to treat the pain and discomfort effectively, so when one source for medication dries up too quickly, the only regular alternative option would realistically be to get something from the black market.
Studies are also finding that cannabis use can aid in the treatment of opioid addiction. In fact, studies are finding that even just CBD derived medications can help manage some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with withdrawal (Moore, 2019). According to a CNN report, in 2016 opioids killed more Americans than breast cancer.
In the interest of helping people who may be suffering with addiction, and who can see that they would benefit from having medical cannabis be included in the treatment regimen, I thought I’d include some information about places that provide these services in Maine. This is not an endorsement of these companies, but simply results I found when searching the topic.
Dr. Dustin Sulak at Integr8 Health in Falmouth uses cannabis to help patients combat opioid addictions. He was also featured on CNN. A link to his website can be found below. Greener Pastures of Maine uses “Plant-Assisted Therapy (PAT) for Recovery,” which includes cannabis, kratom and other plant based and holistic treatments and they are located in Maine. There’s a link to their website included below. I also found a company called Liberty Bay Recovery Center in Portland, Maine as well. They offer a reasonable approach to recovery using cannabis as well. A link to their page can be found below.
Opioid addiction remains a huge problem for Maine’s communities. This is also a subject matter that has affected my life personally, and one that I care very deeply about. If you, or someone you know, is/are suffering from addiction, you can reach out to one of the resources mentioned in the paragraph above at the links below.
Also, Maine has a hotline you can call at 2-1-1 to be connected to services that might help you. For example, they offer free mental health services too and can connect people with other helpful services. If you need further assistance email Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Integr8 Health: https://integr8health.com/
Greener Pastures Recovery: https://www.greenerpasturesrecovery.com/
Liberty Bay Recovery: https://www.libertybayrecovery.com/
Kounang, Nadia (2018). Getting off Opioids with Medical Marijuana: Patients turn to Pot over Pills. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/29/health/medical-marijuana-opioids/index.html
Moore, Chris (2019). Doctors are cutting patients off Opioid medications too fast, study says. Retrieved from: https://merryjane.com/news/doctors-are-cutting-patients-off-opioid-medications-too-fast-study-says