Emergency Department Initiation of Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder: Current Status, and Future Potential
Patients experiencing the consequences of opioid use often present to the emergency department (ED) at times of crisis, such as following overdose or when in withdrawal. This highlights the important role of the ED in recognizing opioid use disorder and engaging these patients into ongoing treatment. Given the limited ability of the healthcare system to provide timely addiction treatment, initiation of therapy in the ED, with referral to long-term care, is associated with improved outcomes. The primary evidence-based treatment used in EDs for this indication is buprenorphine. Although clinicians may find the initiation of buprenorphine therapy daunting, it is straightforward and well-tolerated, and many of the barriers are surmountable. This article addresses these barriers, which include stigma, complicated pharmacology, and confusing regulations, and provides a basis for the use of buprenorphine in acute care clinical practice.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
No sources of funding were used to prepare this manuscript.
Conflict of interest
Lindsay Fox and Lewis S. Nelson have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.
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