Managing Opioid Addiction with Buprenorphine - Article

ABSTRACT: Legislation has enabled physicians to treat opioid-dependent patients with an office-based maintenance program using buprenorphine, a partial mu-opioid receptor agonist. Clinical studies indicate buprenorphine effectively manages opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is more effective than placebo for managing opioid addiction but may not be superior to methadone if high doses are needed. It is comparable to lower doses of methadone, however. Treatment phases include induction, stabilization, and maintenance. Buprenorphine therapy should be initiated at the onset of withdrawal symptoms and adjusted to address withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Advantages of buprenorphine include low abuse potential and high availability for office use. Disadvantages include high cost and possible lack of effectiveness in patients who require high methadone doses. Most family physicians are required to complete eight hours of training before they can prescribe buprenorphine for opioid addiction.

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