Ultra-low-dose buprenorphine as a time-limited treatment for severe suicidal ideation: A randomized controlled trial

Yoram Yovell, Gali Bar, Moti Mashiah, Yehuda Baruch, Irina Briskman, Jack Asherov, Amit Lotan, Amihai Rigbi, Jaak Panksepp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Suicidal ideation and behavior currently have no quick-acting pharmacological treatments that are suitable for independent outpatient use. Suicidality is linked to mental pain, which is modulated by the separation distress system through endogenous opioids. The authors tested the efficacy and safety of very low dosages of sublingual buprenorphine as a time-limited treatment for severe suicidal ideation. Method: This was a multisite randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of ultra-low-dose sublingual buprenorphine as an adjunctive treatment. Severely suicidal patients without substance abuse were randomly assigned to receive either buprenorphine or placebo (in a 2:1 ratio), in addition to their ongoing individual treatments. The primary outcome measurewaschangein suicidal ideation,asassessedbytheBeck SuicideIdeationScale attheendofeachof4weeksof treatment. Results: Patients who received ultra-low-dose buprenorphine (initial dosage, 0.1 mg once or twice daily; mean final dosage=0.44 mg/day; N=40) had a greater reduction in Beck Suicide Ideation Scale scores than patients who received placebo (N=22), both after 2 weeks (mean difference 24.3, 95% CI=28.5, 20.2) and after 4 weeks (mean difference=27.1, 95% CI=212.0, 22.3). Concurrent use of antidepressants and a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder did not affect the response to buprenorphine. No withdrawal symptoms were reported after treatment discontinuation at the end of the trial. Conclusions:The time-limited, short-termuse of very low dosages of sublingual buprenorphine was associated with decreased suicidal ideation in severely suicidal patients without substance abuse. Further research is needed to establish the efficacy, safety, dosing, and appropriate patient populations for this experimental treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)491-498
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Volume173
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Ultra-low-dose buprenorphine as a time-limited treatment for severe suicidal ideation: A randomized controlled trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this