ASAM Clinical Considerations: Buprenorphine Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder for Individuals Using High-potency Synthetic Opioids

Melissa B. Weimer, Andrew A. Herring, Sarah S. Kawasaki, Marjorie Meyer, Bethea A. Kleykamp, Kelly S. Ramsey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) with buprenorphine has evolved considerably in the last decade as the scale of the OUD epidemic has increased along with the emergence of high-potency synthetic opioids (HPSOs) and stimulants in the drug supply. These changes have outpaced the development of prospective research, so a clinical consideration document based on expert consensus is needed to address pressing clinical questions. This clinical considerations document is based on a narrative literature review and expert consensus and will specifically address considerations for changes to the clinical practice of treatment of OUD with buprenorphine for individuals using HPSO. An expert panel developed 6 key questions addressing buprenorphine initiation, stabilization, and long-term treatment for individuals with OUD exposed to HPSO in various treatment settings. Broadly, the clinical considerations suggest that individualized strategies for buprenorphine initiation may be needed. The experience of opioid withdrawal negatively impacts the success of buprenorphine treatment, and attention to its management before and during buprenorphine initiation should be proactively addressed. Buprenorphine dose and dosing frequency should be individualized based on patients' treatment needs, the possibility of novel components in the drug supply should be considered during OUD treatment, and all forms of opioid agonist treatment should be offered and considered for patients. Together, these clinical considerations attempt to be responsive to the challenges and opportunities experienced by frontline clinicians using buprenorphine for the treatment of OUD in patients using HPSOs and highlight areas where prospective research is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)632-639
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Addiction Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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