In some cases of chronic pain, opioids may need to be prescribed to help with a patient’s pain management routine. Some of the most common opioids prescribed for pain are: codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone. Due to the strong nature of these drugs, periodically tapering or gradually reducing the dosage under the guidance of a trusted physician can play an equally important role in the healing process.
For this reason, physicians often suggest for patients to partake in “Opioid Holidays” for a few weeks at a time to allow their body to detox and reset its natural ability to cope with pain. Not only will these breaks from opioids allow you to decide if you even still need the medication, it can also reduce your tolerance and allow you to restart the medication at a lower dose if needed. Tapering is especially necessary before undergoing surgical procedures as high doses of opioids can make it harder for a patient to cope with surgical pain and actually cause the recovery process to take longer overall.
Opioid Holidays are also helpful at avoiding hyperalgesia as well as other harmful side effects of long-term opioid usage including sleep apnea, lower hormone levels, respiratory health issues, constipation/nausea, drowsiness, and depression. Hyperalgesia is described as extreme sensitivity to pain that is caused by nerves sending messages increasing in frequency and intensity to your brain. In short, this side effect can cause your body to feel more pain than it originally felt before you began taking opioids in the first place.
In addition to this, Opioid Holidays can also lower the risk of developing an addiction or physical dependence to such medications as well as make it possible for you to stop taking them in the future altogether. Physical withdrawal is inevitable when cutting opioids out of your pain management routine but carefully planned Opioid Holidays can make a huge difference in the duration and intensity of these symptoms.
We hope that this blog provided some new information revolving around the importance of Opioid Holidays for long-term users. It is important to note that the journey to recovery is different for everyone, meaning that this article should not be viewed as medical advice on its own. Patients who may benefit from tapering or changing their pain management routines should do so under the management of a trusted physician who is familiar with their progress as well as their history of opioid usage.