Step 15- Taper Methods

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Why this step is important

There are a variety of taper methods used in the layperson psychiatric drug withdrawal community. Learning about the basic logistical needs and possible pros and cons of each method will ensure that the decisions one makes regarding a taper plan are more fully-informed.

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Important cautions

1. Some forms of psychiatric drugs cannot be safely altered in any way in order to be tapered off, and it can be very dangerous to try. Step 11 of TWP’s Companion Guide provided instructions on how to investigate whether a particular drug can be altered and tapered off and, if not, what can be done about it. If you’re planning to taper and arrived here without completing that step, it is essential for your safety to go back and complete that step before continuing.

2. As discussed in Step 11, the layperson withdrawal community considers certain forms and formulations of psychiatric drugs to be more “taper-friendly” than others. However, any type of alteration of the form of a psychiatric drug – whether through dissolving in water, breaking open a capsule, pulverizing into a powder, or any other process – causes the drug to, in effect, no longer be the exact drug form and formulation that were approved by the FDA. This means that the drug, in its new form, may have a different, unknown efficacy and safety profile, different storage requirements, and more. The descriptions of the taper methods below are provided for educational purposes; it is always important to independently research and discuss any planned alterations of a medication with a well-informed pharmacist.

3. Many people try to taper using the methods of variable dosing or pill splitting or shaving. Variable dosing involves, for example, taking a full dose five days in the week and a half dose for two days in the week – it tends to lead to instability and interdose withdrawal and must be cautioned against. Pill splitting or pill shaving can be very risky because the active ingredients of a drug are often not evenly distributed through pills. (For more information on pill splitting see section 1(c) on this page in Step 15. For more on interdose withdrawal, see this page in our Help Hub.)

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Getting oriented

In this step, you’ll learn about the pros and cons that many in the layperson withdrawal community have found with each of the commonly used psychiatric drug taper methods. Take some time to read through each method and get a sense of what might feel right for you given the drugs you take, your personal circumstances, your relationship to your prescriber, and your preferences.