Buprenorphine in the United States: Motives for abuse, misuse, and diversion

Howard D. Chilcoat, Halle R. Amick, Molly R. Sherwood, Kelly E. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Opioid use disorder (OUD) and its consequences are a major public health concern. The partial agonist buprenorphine is a safe and effective treatment for OUD, but concerns about abuse, misuse, and diversion of buprenorphine have been raised. This narrative review examined the rates and motives for use of illicit buprenorphine in the United States. Findings from the 17 included studies suggest the majority of study participants using illicit buprenorphine do so for reasons related to misuse (to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms or achieve or maintain abstinence from other opioids). A smaller percentage of study respondents reported using buprenorphine for reasons related to abuse (to get high). There appears to be a gap between need for buprenorphine and access to adequate treatment. Attenuation of policy-related barriers and adoption of appropriate buprenorphine use by the treatment community are critical tools in the continued effort to reduce the burdens associated with OUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Sep 2019


  • Access to care
  • Buprenorphine
  • Health policy
  • Opioid abuse
  • Self-treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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