New Study Finds Dose Tapering May Heighten Risk of Opioid Overdoses

June 21, 2022 09:00:21

New research from the Center for Healthcare Policy and Research at UC Davis has found that dose-reduction programs meant to taper patients off opioids and reduce opioid overdoses can increase the risk of mental health risks and patient overdose in the long term.

In the study findings, which were published in “JAMA Network Open,” the researchers noted that patients on higher doses of opioid therapy experienced remarkably higher rates of mental-health crises and overdose in the second year after their doses were tapered down by at least 15%. Opioid tapering is meant to steadily wean patients off opioids over a period of weeks without aggravating some of the side effects associated with the continued use of opioids.

For their study, the researchers used a database for patients whose conditions required long-term opioid use. They chose to follow those who had been on high but stable opioid doses but had their doses reduced by more than 10%. They then compared the rates of events such as emergency visits and admissions for drugs; mental-health crises such as anxiety, depression, and suicide attempts; emergency room visits; and hospital admissions before the tapering period and in the second year after tapering was initiated.

After analyzing the data, the researchers found that there was an average of 4.5 mental-health crises and 5.4 withdrawal or drug-overdose events one to two years after tapering compared to 3 mental health crises and 3.4 withdrawal or overdose events during the pre-tapering period.

This represents a more than 50% rise in mental health crises and a 56% surge in withdrawal or overdose incidents. The research shows that patients could draw significant benefits from close monitoring and follow-up in the months after they start tapering off opioids.

The team of scientists also found that tapering could also worsen the opioid-withdrawal symptoms, increase pain levels for patients with chronic pain conditions and induce depressive moods.

This is in addition to finding that after the tapering process began, the risk of patients experiencing a mental-health crisis and an overdose increased, which suggests that patients who undergo tapering need a lot of support to safely decrease or completely halt their use of opioids.

The lead author of the study, Professor Joshua Fenton, stated that the assumption had been that despite struggling at the start of the tapering period, patients would stabilize over time and reduce their risk of mental health crisis and overdosing. Fenton is also the vice chair of research at the institution’s Department of Family and Community Medicine, under the School of Medicine.

Firms such as Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) are focused on finding novel remedies to treat a variety of neurological conditions, and addiction ranks high among the mental-health issues requiring a paradigm shift in their management.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Silo Pharma Inc. (OTCQB: SILO) are available in the company’s newsroom at

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