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Opioid-Use Disorder and Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid-use disorder (OUD) may mitigate the risk associated with concomitant benzodiazepine and Z-drug use, which is frequent in this patient population, new research suggests.

A case-crossover study of more than 20,000 participants with OUD showed that drug treatment days in which benzodiazepines and Z-drugs were taken were associated with an 88% increase in nonfatal overdose; buprenorphine appeared to reduce this risk by almost 40%.

"One of our two primary findings is that patients with opioid use disorder can still benefit substantially from buprenorphine treatment, even if they have benzodiazepines on board," lead author Kevin Xu, MD, a resident at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, told Medscape Medical News.

The other key finding was that "not all benzodiazepines are equal" and that some are associated with higher risk than others, Xu added.

"If anything, patients who are on buprenorphine and benzodiazepines do not necessarily need to be abruptly tapered off their benzodiazepines. Our data actually demonstrate that there are safe avenues for them," he added.

The findings were published online March 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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