Opioid use disorder (OUD) is a public health crisis that continues to affect individuals across Canada and requires a multifaceted approach to minimize its impact. Through the chronic consumption of opioids, many individuals can become dependent on opioids and develop OUD. Buprenorphine/naloxone is the recommended first-line treatment, whenever possible, for patients living with OUD. The Emergency Strategic Clinical NetworkTM within Alberta Health Services is targeting
the crisis in emergency departments by implementing a provincially standardized program. The Buprenorphine/ Naloxone Initiations in Emergency Departments program includes identifying OUD, initiating treatment with the medication buprenorphine/naloxone, and providing rapid and reliable referrals to community clinics for titration and continued patient care. This paper provides an overview of opioids, OUD, opioid agonist treatments such as buprenorphine/naloxone, and details the program and protocol available in Alberta.
Keywords: opioids, opioid use disorder (OUD), opioid agonist treatment (OAT), buprenorphine/naloxone, emergency department (ED)