Management of opioid withdrawal and initiation of medications for opioid use disorder in the hospital setting.Hosp Pract (1995). 2022 Oct; 50(4):251-258.HP
Opioid use disorder (OUD) has become increasingly prevalent among hospitalized patients in the United States and globally. As its prevalence increases, this provides a valuable opportunity for clinicians in the hospital setting to engage and initiate management and treatment of OUD.
This article aims to provide hospitalists and other clinicians working in the hospital with a narrative review of the management of opioid withdrawal and the initiation of medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) in the hospital and provide an update on a novel low dose approach to buprenorphine induction (also commonly referred to as the 'microinduction' method).
Authors performed a narrative review of the literature.
Management can initially include treating withdrawal symptoms with opioids as well as with a combination of non-opioid medications such as alpha 2 agonists, benzodiazepines, and/or antiemetics as needed. Besides simply managing withdrawal symptoms, clinicians can further improve the care of patients with OUD through initiating maintenance treatment with MOUD, ideally with opioids used in the initial management of withdrawal. Opioid detoxification is an inferior method of primary treatment and is associated with relapse and poor outcomes. In contrast, treatment with MOUD using methadone or buprenorphine is associated with superior treatment outcomes and reduced relapse compared to detoxification alone. Treatment with MOUD using methadone or buprenorphine can be successfully used in the hospital setting. A novel low dose approach to buprenorphine induction may be useful in minimizing precipitated withdrawals in patients who have recently used or received opioids, which makes this an attractive option in the hospital where patients are frequently on opioids for acutely painful conditions. The hospital setting also provides a valuable opportunity for clinicians to address harm reduction in patients with OUD. Finally, clinicians can improve the long-term outcomes of patients with OUD by ensuring a smooth discharge with adequate and timely follow-up.
Proper management of opioid withdrawal and initiation of MOUD in the hospital can improve outcomes in patients with OUD.