Utilizing buprenorphine–naloxone to treat illicit and prescription-opioid dependence
Sofie Mauger,1 Ronald Fraser1,2 Kathryn Gill1,2
1Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; 2Addictions Unit, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada
Objectives: To review current evidence on buprenorphine–naloxone (bup/nx) for the treatment of opioid-use disorders, with a focus on strategies for clinical management and office-based patient care.
Quality of evidence: Medline and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched. Consensus reports, guidelines published, and other authoritative sources were also included in this review. Apart from expert guidelines, data included in this review constitute level 1 evidence.
Findings: Bup/nx is a partial µ-opioid agonist combined with the opioid antagonist naloxone in a 4:1 ratio. It has a lower abuse potential, carries less stigma, and allows for more flexibility than methadone. Bup/nx is indicated for both inpatient and ambulatory medically assisted withdrawal (acute detoxification) and long-term substitution treatment (maintenance) of patients who have a mild-to-moderate physical dependence. A stepwise long-term substitution treatment with regular monitoring and follow-up assessment is usually preferred, as it has better outcomes in reducing illicit opioid use, minimizing concomitant risks such as human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C transmission, retaining patients in treatment and improving global functioning.
Conclusion: Bup/nx is safe and effective for opioid detoxification and substitution treatment. Its unique pharmaceutical properties make it particularly suitable for office-based maintenance treatment of opioid-use disorder.
Keywords: Zubsolv, Suboxone, methadone, opiate detoxification, opiate substitution, clinical management
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