Suboxone diversion?

Ah subutex!
Ah subutex! (Photo credit: nicolasnova)

A recent study looking at diversion of buprenorphine finds that:

While 9% reported recent street-obtained buprenorphine use, only a small minority reported using buprenorphine to get high, with the majority reporting use to manage withdrawal symptoms.

The use of street-obtained buprenorphine primarily to avoid withdrawal fits with Dawn Farm’s experience, though the percentage would be much higher than 9%.

We know that the experience in Europe has been different. For example, a 5 year study there found:

In 2007, 60.2% of the respondents claimed heroin or morphine as their first injected drug. This percentage had declined to 51.3% in 2010, but in contrast the incidence of buprenorphine as the first injected or abused drug by the study population increased from 30.5% (2007) to 44.4% (2010).

Why the difference? Well, a few possibilities come to mind:

  • That Europe adopted the drug earlier than the US.
  • That the brand most widely used in the U.S. includes naloxone, which is less desirable as a street-obtained drug.
  • That the American study was done in 2008, and things have changed rapidly since then.

The big question is whether we’ll see the kind of misuse that Europe has seen.

[Hat tip: Substance Matters]