The most cost-effective treatment for people with untreated opioid addiction who visit the emergency department (ED) is buprenorphine, a medication to reduce drug cravings and withdrawal, say Yale researchers. Their study found that among patients who came to the ED, the ED-initiated medication strategy was most likely to be cost-effective compared to referral alone or a brief intervention with facilitated referral, the researchers said.
The study was published in the journal Addiction.
Nationally, only about one in five individuals who needed treatment for opioid addiction received treatment in the past year, and fewer received the most effective treatments, such as buprenorphine. Yet studies have shown that treating individuals with such medications is effective. In an earlier analysis of this study, Yale researchers found that when patients are screened for opioid addiction, receive ED-initiated buprenorphine, and a referral for ongoing treatment, the treatment was more effective than a standard referral or brief intervention with referral.