HHS Issues Guide for Appropriate Tapering or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Use

October 17, 2019
Policy Snapshot

On October 10, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) published a new Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics, which provides advice to clinicians who are contemplating or initiating a change in opioid dosage. Prescription opioids help the patient only when the benefit of using opioids outweighs the risks. But once a patient is on opioids for a prolonged period, any abrupt change in the patient’s regimen may put the patient at risk of harm and should include a thorough case review and discussion with the patient. HHS does not recommend tapering opioids rapidly or discontinuing them suddenly due to the significant risks of opioid withdrawal, unless there is a life-threatening issue confronting the individual patient.

See the full text of this excerpted HHS Press Release.