When an addict is ready to stop using drugs, one of the first things they must do is to detox. During detox, an addict, under the support of a medical staff, completely stops using and allows the dangerous drugs to leave their system.
It is important that this process is done with the help of a doctor because many drugs carry with them withdrawal symptoms that are very uncomfortable and even dangerous. The discomfort caused by the detox process is often so difficult that an addict may return to using in order to stop the painful sensations they are experiencing.
Some recovering addicts may chose to undergo what is known as "tapering" before they detox from a drug. Tapering essentially consists of taking lower and lower doses of a drug before entering detox.
This is particularly popular with drugs like opiates, which carry some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Is this an effective means of detoxing? Some medical professionals and recovering addicts say that it is.
The Benefits of Tapering
Drugs like opiates take a very strong hold of the body's reward receptors, which is what makes them so addictive. Because of this, it can be very jarring for the body to quit cold turkey, or to have their supply of the drug abruptly cut off.
When a recovering addict tapers, the body slowly adjusts to lower and lower doses of the drug, which makes the process of completely abstaining less uncomfortable. Tapering may, in some cases, increase a recovering addict's chances of remaining sober.
The Dangers of Tapering
While some doctors and therapists advocate for tapering, many medical professionals caution that there are risks associated with the process. One risk associated with tapering is that the addict is still using the drug they are addicted too.
This is problematic because of the nature of addiction. When a person is dependent on a drug, they are singularly fixated on using and may have serious difficulty ceasing use once the drug is in their system. An addict who intends to taper may easily end up taking more than their recommended dose, and may negate any positive effects of tapering down. This may also lead to an increased risk of overdose or other health problems.
Another danger of tapering is that an addict may never decide to detox, and may remain dependent on low doses of a drug over the course of a long period of time.
Tapering Should Always Be Done With a Doctor's Advice
Because of the risks posed by tapering, it is always highly advisable to do so under the strong guidance of a doctor. A doctor will help to determine a schedule for tapering, and help to ensure that tapering is indeed helping a recovering addict work toward sobriety, and that they are minimizing the risk of raising the level of drugs that they take.
Doctors may monitor how many drugs an addict has at each visit and may also perform urine tests to monitor the levels of drugs that exist in an addict's system.
Deciding What Is Right For You
Whether tapering is a good idea ultimately depends on your own addiction and your own individual needs. Some addicts will have more success with tapering than others, and the best way to decide which method is right is to discuss your current habits and the nature of your addiction with your doctor.
Ultimately, the most important thing is that eventually to completely detox with the help of a qualified medical staff. Addiction is a difficult disease to overcome, but with the right support, it is possible to get healthy.