It is unclear whether pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder (OUD) should be continued for short or long-term. Before introduction of buprenorphine, methadone was the primary pharmacotherapy for OUD in the United States. Because of its specific pharmacokinetic properties methadone was recommended for long-term use with some justification. Introduction of buprenorphine however has altered the treatment protocol because of milder adverse effects and withdrawal symptoms. The adverse effects of buprenorphine are milder but not negligible. Therefore, indefinite prescription is justified only if there is a significant benefit. Studies that have compared short and long-term treatment of buprenorphine protocols do not show a significant benefit of long-term treatment over relatively short-term (few months) treatment protocols. Obviously, the ultra short-term treatment lasting a few days has very little or no benefit on long-term treatment of buprenorphine protocols that use buprenorphine for 3 to 9 months is comparable to that of the long-term (years to lifetime) treatment without financial and medical consequences of the long-term treatment.
Citation: Badgaiyan RD, Sinha S, Blum K. 2015. Do We Really Need to Continue Pharmacotherapy for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) Indefinitely? J Reward Defic Syndr Addict Sci 1(1): 16-19.