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Non-Prescribed Buprenorphine in New York City: Motivations for Use, Practices of Diversion, and Experiences of Stigma

NCJ Number
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment Issue: 70 Dated: November 2016 Pages: 81-86
Date Published
November 2016
6 pages
This study reports on qualitative data from in-depth interviews with persons in New York City who reported the non-medical use of opioid analgesics (OAs) in the past 12 months.
The non-medical use of OAs has increased in the United States over the past decade. Concurrently, access to opioid agonist therapies (OATs) such as buprenorphine has expanded; however, there has been little in-depth qualitative exploration into circumstances surrounding buprenorphine diversion and non-prescribed use. In the current study, participants (n=42) were between 18 and 49 years old. The majority were male (n=29) and non-Hispanic White (n=35). All participants self-reported physical opioid dependence. Motivations for non-prescribed buprenorphine use included the abatement of withdrawal symptoms or a self-initiated detoxification or treatment plan. Few participants reported buprenorphine use for euphoric effect, and no participants reported using buprenorphine as a primary drug. Buprenorphine diversion primarily occurred as a means of supporting ongoing illicit drug use, and no participants reported selling buprehorphine as a primary source of income. Participants reported misinformation about some key areas of buprenorphine induction and use, as well as stigma within peer networks and from drug treatment providers. As access to buprenorphine treatment continues to expand in the United States, improving patient education is a critical step toward minimizing diversion and incidental harms from non-prescribed use. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: November 1, 2016