Microinduction of Buprenorphine/Naloxone: A Review of the Literature

Am J Addict. 2021 Jul;30(4):305-315. doi: 10.1111/ajad.13135. Epub 2020 Dec 30.


Background and objectives: Buprenorphine's high-binding affinity as a partial µ-opioid agonist displaces preexisting full agonists causing precipitated withdrawal, which requires most individuals starting buprenorphine to endure moderate withdrawal prior to induction to avoid precipitated withdrawal. A novel approach called microinduction has emerged to remove this prerequisite. Our aim is to review the literature on these alternative approaches.

Methods: Using keywords including buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone, transdermal buprenorphine, suboxone, microinduction, microdosing, rapid induction, buprenorphine-dosing protocol, the authors searched PubMed/Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, PsychARTICLES, and Scopus databases from the date of inception through April 30, 2020, which yielded 1726 results, which, in turn, after manual exclusion for irrelevant content and publication in languages other than English, generated a total of 18 papers.

Results: On the basis of 18 papers included in this review, 63 patients were successfully transitioned to buprenorphine using different microdosing techniques, primarily in the inpatient setting. From the available data, patients were transitioned from a variety of opioids over a range of dosing without significant withdrawal, and initial doses ranged most frequently from 0.2 to 0.5 mg. While the timeframe for the various schedules ranged from 3 to 112 days, most transitioned over a period of 4 to 8 days, and most participants completed the cross titration at 8 to 16 mg.

Discussion and conclusions: The growing literature demonstrates some initial promise for alternative induction models, specifically targeting patients averse to withdrawal, patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain, patients on high-dose methadone, and patients using illicit or pharmaceutical fentanyl.

Scientific significance: This manuscript provides a review of the existing literature to help clinicians better understand the approaches to microdosing of buprenorphine in various clinical settings and populations. (Am J Addict 2020;00:00-00).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Buprenorphine / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Humans
  • Naloxone / administration & dosage*


  • Naloxone
  • Buprenorphine