J Addict Med. 2023 Jul-Aug 01;17(4):e232-e239. doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000001136. Epub 2023 Jan 26.
OBJECTIVES: Persons with opioid use disorder (OUD) suffer disproportionately from morbidity and mortality related to serious addiction-related infections requiring hospitalization. Long-acting buprenorphine (LAB) is an underused medication for OUD that may facilitate linkage to care and treatment retention when administered before hospital discharge. Transition onto buprenorphine in the inpatient setting is often complicated by pain, active infection management, potential surgical interventions, and risk of opioid withdrawal in transition from full agonists to a partial agonist.
METHODS: The COMMIT Trial is a randomized controlled trial evaluating LAB administered by infectious disease physicians and hospitalists compared with treatment as usual for persons with OUD hospitalized with infections. We report a case series of participants on full agonist opioids including methadone who were transitioned to sublingual buprenorphine using low-dose ( microdosing ) strategies followed by LAB injection.
RESULTS: Seven participants with current opioid use disorder and life-threatening infections, all with significant concurrent pain and many requiring surgical intervention, underwent low-dose transitions starting at buccal buprenorphine doses ranging from 225 μg to 300 μg 3 times a day on the first day. All were well tolerated with average time to LAB injection of 7.5 days (range, 5-10 days).
CONCLUSIONS: Inpatient low-dose buprenorphine transition from full agonist opioids including methadone onto LAB is feasible even in those with complex hospitalizations for concurrent infections and/or surgery. This strategy facilitates dosing of LAB before hospital discharge when risk of opioid relapse and overdose are significant.