Patients having opioid (heroin) addiction receive buprenorphine treatment in hospital, but seamlessly connecting them with an outpatient office based treatment program can greatly reduce relapse after they are discharged, demonstrate results of a new study.
Led by researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC), the study shows the important role that providers play in offering these patients addiction treatment both while in the hospital and after - even if their primary reason for being in the hospital is not for their addiction. In this study, 139 hospitalized individuals with opioid addiction who were not already in treatment were randomized into two groups.
One group received a tapered dose treatment of buprenorphine for withdrawal and referral information about community treatment programs and the other were initiated on buprenorphine, an opioid substitute proven to treat opioid addiction, along with referral to a primary care office-based buprenorphine treatment program. Buprenorphine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 for the treatment of opioid addiction, is taken orally and helps to curb opioid withdrawal symptoms. Of those in the buprenorphine maintenance group, more than one third (37 percent) reported no illicit opioid/drug use for the month after they left the hospital compared to less than one in ten (nine percent) among the control group.