Subst Abus. 2023 Sep 20:8897077231196417. doi: 10.1177/08897077231196417. Online ahead of print.
Low dose buprenorphine initiation (LDBI) is a dosing strategy used to transition patients from full opioid agonists to buprenorphine. The purpose of LDBI is to circumvent obstacles associated with disruption in analgesia, precipitated withdrawal, and prerequisite opioid withdrawal prior to initiating buprenorphine, as not all patients are able to tolerate physical withdrawal symptoms recommended by national guidelines. No literature exists directly comparing traditional buprenorphine initiation to LDBI. Until information on long-term outcomes is available, these dosing strategies should be reserved for patients unable to tolerate traditional buprenorphine initiation. Available published research suggests LDBI strategies will allow some patients to successfully transition to buprenorphine with minimal or no symptoms of withdrawal. Ensuring access to pharmacotherapy during hospital admission is a crucial time for potential intervention and should be considered when appropriate. This narrative review discusses the background of LDBI strategies as well as practical clinical and operational considerations for the inpatient clinician.