Addiction to Prescription Opioids: Characteristics of the Emerging Epidemic and Treatment With Buprenorphine

ArticleinExperimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology 16(5):435-41 · November 2008with22 Reads
Impact Factor: 2.71 · DOI: 10.1037/a0013637 · Source: PubMed


    Dependence on and abuse of prescription opioid drugs is now a major health problem, with initiation of prescription opioid abuse exceeding cocaine in young people. Coincident with the emergence of abuse and dependence on prescription opioids, there has been an increased emphasis on the treatment of pain. Pain is now the "5th vital sign" and physicians face disciplinary action for failure to adequately relieve pain. Thus, physicians are whipsawed between the imperative to treat pain with opioids and the fear of producing addiction in some patients. In this article, the authors characterize the emerging epidemic of prescription opioid abuse, discuss the utility of buprenorphine in the treatment of addiction to prescription opioids, and present illustrative case histories of successful treatment with buprenorphine.