Offering opioid addicts anti-craving medication in a hospital emergency setting could position these individuals for successful drug-using outcomes post-discharge, suggest results of a follow-up study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The new study, out of Yale University, builds on previous research by finding that the benefits of receiving buprenorphine in the emergency setting appear to last for two months following the intervention. The study of 290 individuals found that after two months, patients who had received buprenorphine along with a brief interview were more likely to be in addiction treatment and to report lower drug use than patients who had received either the brief interview only or a referral to treatment. The treatnent groups did not show major differences in urine test results or on a measure of HIV risk, however.
“The ED visit is an ideal opportunity to identify patients with opioid use disorder and initiate treatment and direct referral, similar to best practices for other diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes,” said study co-author Gail D'Onofrio, MD, who serves as chair of emergency medicine at Yale.
The patients who received buprenorphine in the emergency department intervention continued with their medication after leaving the hospital, with the support of a primary care physician.