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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.
Methadone Therapy for Opioid Dependence - Article
ABSTRACT: The 1999 Federal regulations extend the treatment options of methadone-maintained opioid-dependent patients from specialized clinics to office-based opioid therapy (OBOT). OBOT allows primary care physicians to coordinate methadone therapy in this group with ongoing medical care. This patient group tends to be poorly understood and underserved. Methadone maintenance therapy is the most widely known and well-researched treatment for opioid dependency. Goals of therapy are to prevent abstinence syndrome, reduce narcotic cravings and block the euphoric effects of illicit opioid use. In the first phase of methadone treatment, appropriately selected patients are tapered to adequate steady-state dosing. Once they are stabilized on a satisfactory dosage, it is often possible to address their other chronic medical and psychiatric conditions. The maintenance phase can be used as a long-term therapy until the patient demonstrates the qualities required for successful detoxification. Patients who abuse narcotics have an increased risk for human immunodeficiency virus infection, hepatitis, tuberculosis and other conditions contributing to increased morbidity and mortality. Short- or long-term pain management problems and surgical needs are also common concerns in opioid-dependent patients and are generally treatable in conjunction with methadone maintenance.
ABSTRACT: A systematic approach to chronic nonmalignant pain includes a comprehensive evaluation; a treatment plan determined by the diagnosis and mechanisms underlying the pain; patient education; and realistic goal setting. The main goal of treatment is to improve quality of life while decreasing pain. An initial comprehensive pain assessment is essential in developing a treatment plan that addresses the physical, social, functional, and psychological needs of the patient. One obstacle to appropriate pain management is managing the adverse effects of medication. Opioids pose challenges with abuse, addiction, diversion, lack of knowledge, concerns about adverse effects, and fears of regulatory scrutiny. These challenges may be overcome by adherence to the Federation of State Medical Boards guidelines, use of random urine drug screening, monitoring for aberrant behaviors, and anticipating adverse effects. When psychiatric comorbidities are present, risk of substance abuse is high and pain management may require specialized treatment or consultation. Referral to a pain management specialist can be helpful.
Methadone Maintenance - Editorials
Cutting Back on High-Dosage Narcotics - Curbside Consultation
ABSTRACT: Urine drug screening can enhance workplace safety, monitor medication compliance, and detect drug abuse. Ordering and interpreting these tests requires an understanding of testing modalities, detection times for specific drugs, and common explanations for false-positive and false-negative results. Employment screening, federal regulations, unusual patient behavior, and risk patterns may prompt urine drug screening. Compliance testing may be necessary for patients taking controlled substances. Standard immunoassay testing is fast, inexpensive, and the preferred initial test for urine drug screening. This method reliably detects morphine, codeine, and heroin; however, it often does not detect other opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl, buprenorphine, and tramadol. Unexpected positive test results should be confirmed with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry or high-performance liquid chromatography. A positive test result reflects use of the drug within the previous one to three days, although marijuana can be detected in the system for a longer period of time. Careful attention to urine collection methods can identify some attempts by patients to produce false-negative test results.
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