Current Treatment Options in Psychiatry

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 313–322 | Cite as

Future Directions Incorporating Novel Medications to Reduce Repeat Overdose

  • Sade E. JohnsEmail author
  • Mary Bowman
  • F. Gerard Moeller
Substance Use Disorders (FG Moeller, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Substance Use Disorders


Purpose of review

The use of opioids has risen dramatically in the USA and led to an increase in opioid use disorders and deaths due to opioid-related overdoses. Current treatments for opioid use disorder are not without drawbacks, so that new treatments may be helpful in reducing opioid use. This paper reviews current pharmacologic treatments for opioid use disorder as well as emerging novel treatments that may change or improve approaches to treatment.

Recent findings

The current treatments for opioid use disorder are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Of the three, methadone has been the most studied and longest treatment used. However, because of limitations with prescribing and safety concerns with methadone, buprenorphine is becoming a widely used pharmacologic treatment alternative. Naltrexone remains less commonly utilized. New treatments such as lorcaserin and medicinal cannabis have potential to make an impact in addressing the opioid epidemic; however, controlled human studies are needed to assess their full potential.


Current treatments for opioid use disorder are beneficial, but have the disadvantage of abuse potential, compliance concerns, and prescribing limitations. Novel pharmacologic treatments may be able to address these concerns. Future research should continue to evaluate the efficacy of novel medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder.


Opioid use disorder Opioid epidemic Medication-assisted treatment Novel treatment 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Moeller has grant support from Indivior pharmaceuticals. Dr. Johns has nothing to disclose.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Drug and Alcohol StudiesVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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