The opioid epidemic, now considered a national emergency, touches all corners of our society. At a recent internal medicine conference in Estes Park Colorado, Sunny Linnebur, PharmD discussed how physicians will be increasingly required by state agencies to taper opioid use among patients with chronic pain. Linnebur, professor of clinical pharmacy at the University of Colorado, Aurora, told conference attendees that an opioid tapering schedule is the ideal solution.
Linnebur suggests using an interactive guide (attached below), developed by Washington State Health Care Authority for these situations. ““If you type in a patient’s opioid medication and dose, it will give you a week-to-week calendar schedule for tapering,” she explained at the conference. “We know that getting patients on the safest dose of opioid is important, but it’s also difficult. This is an objective taper schedule that will prevent the patient from withdrawing from their opioid and hopefully will help in tolerating the reduction.”
The Centers for Disease Control recommend the following when tapering a patient away from opioid use:
2. Adjust the rate and duration of the taper according to the patient’s response.Some patients who have taken opioids for a long time might find even slower tapers (e.g., 10% per month) easier.