Surveys indicate that up to 1.9 million Americans met criteria for an opioid use disorder (OUD) based on their use of prescription opioid medication alone in 2013. Another 300,000 were regular users of heroin. Deaths due to opioid overdose continue to rise, despite multiple policy interventions at the federal, state, and local levels. Many of these policy efforts have focused on prevention. Prevention is essential, but prevention won’t help the millions of people already addicted to opioids.
The Emergency Department is a health care setting in which patients with OUD commonly present, seeking more opioids to maintain their addiction, seeking help with opioid withdrawal, or in some tragic instances, needing emergency resuscitation for opioid overdose. Emergency Department (ED) physicians are thus uniquely positioned to intervene to help patients with OUD at a critical moment in the addiction cycle.
Download the Monograph: Use of Buprenorphine-Naloxone in the Emergency Department by David Kan, MD and Anna Lembke, MD. A monograph adopted by the California Society of Addiction Medicine Committee on Opioids and the California Society of Addiction Medicine Board of Directors, January 2018.