Addiction treatment can start in the ED

Opioid-addicted patients who show up in the emergency department (ED) are typically treated for symptoms then referred elsewhere for follow-up. Now, new research from Yale shows that ED-initiated buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid dependence, could help expand access to addiction treatment.

Gail D’Onofrio, M.D., M.S., chair and professor of emergency medicine, and David A. Fiellin, M.D., professor of medicine and public health, and colleagues randomly assigned 329 opioid-dependent ED patients. About a third of the patients received information about treatment resources, a third participated in interventions before receiving information and help in attending a treatment program, and a third were given buprenorphine in the ED and follow-up care afterward.

ED-initiated buprenorphine, the team reported April 28 in Journal of the American Medical Association, increased engagement in addiction treatment, reduced self-reported illicit opioid use, and decreased use of inpatient treatment services.


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