Q & A – Trends in Prescription Drug Abuse: ‘Bridging Medications’

Question: Outside of approved traditional opioid maintenance programs, I’ve heard that some drug addicts are using prescription drugs for “bridging.” What is this practice, and which prescription drugs may be involved?

Response from Michael G. O’Neil, PharmD: “The epidemic of unintended prescription drug overdoses continues to spread across the United States. The medications being abused and misused in these tragic events are often opioids and benzodiazepines.

A lesser known phenomenon involves use of other prescription medications to minimize physiologic withdrawal until individuals can obtain their next “chemical high” with their drug of choice. This practice is commonly referred to as “bridging.” Traditionally, the term “bridging” has been used in medication-assisted addiction treatment centers while stabilizing patients. Unfortunately, this terminology has gained a new meaning at the street level. Recognizing bridging behaviors may help clinicians identify patients with the disease of addiction or potential medication adverse effects.”


Source: Medscape.com – May 28, 2013