Paper Is Part of Special Series on Buprenorphine Diversion and Misuse

Newswise — Philadelphia, Pa. (February 27, 2012) – A Journal of Addiction Medicine (JAM) study was cited in a recent Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) series highlighting an emerging problem in addiction therapy: the diversion and misuse of the medication buprenorphine. The official journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, JAM is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

The citation appeared in last year's "CESAR FAX" special series on buprenorphine. The editors of CESAR FAX, a weekly update on substance abuse research, wrote, "While research indicates that buprenorphine is an effective drug for treating opioid dependence, we feel that the potential for its nonmedical use and related unintended consequences may be going unnoticed."

Differing Patterns of Buprenorphine Mis-useBuprenorphine is used in the medical treatment of people addicted to opioids—particularly prescription opioids and heroin. As buprenorphine is more widely prescribed, there may be increasing problems with diversion and misuse.

In the study, researchers at Brown University analyzed patterns of buprenorphine abuse by intravenous (IV) and non-IV opioid users in Providence, R.I. They found that about three-fourths of these opioid users were obtaining buprenorphine-containing medications illicitly.

The study also found that the two groups were using buprenorphine in different ways. The IV drug users most often took buprenorphine for self-medication—for example, to remedy withdrawal symptoms or to "self-treat" their addiction.

In contrast, non-IV drug users were more likely to say they took the diverted buprenorphine to "get high." That was a surprise, because buprenorphine-containing medications aren't expected to produce a "high" in regular users who have built up a tolerance to opioids.

"We believe the results are noteworthy because they are the first to suggest that individual drug use patterns and the severity of opioid dependence may be related to an individual’s motivation for using diverted buprenorphine," the CESAR FAX editors write. They suggest some policy changes that might help to decrease buprenorphine diversion and misuse.

"We are pleased that one of our papers was included in the CESAR FAX series, and we hope it will help to draw attention to this emerging issue," comments Shannon C. Miller, M.D., FASAM, FAPA of the Cincinnati VA and the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Treatment, Research, and Education in Addictive Disorders (CeTREAD), and co-editor of JAM. "The diversion and misuse of buprenorphine is of concern to clinicians. This work is important in developing strategies to decrease illicit availability of this effective medication,” notes Martha J Wunsch MD FASAM, Co-Editor of JAM. The researchers at Brown University have made a high impact contribution to the field."

The entire CESAR FAX special series on buprenorphine can be accessed online at Located at the University of Maryland at College Park, CESAR is dedicated to addressing the problems substance abuse creates for individuals, families, and communities.


About Journal of Addiction MedicineThe mission of Journal of Addiction Medicine, the official journal of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, is to promote excellence in the practice of addiction medicine and in clinical research as well as to support Addiction Medicine as a mainstream medical specialty. Published quarterly, the Journal is designed for all physicians and other mental health professionals who need to keep up-to-date with the treatment of addiction disorders. Under the guidance of an esteemed Editorial Board, peer-reviewed articles published in the Journal focus on developments in addiction medicine as well as on treatment innovations and ethical, economic, forensic, and social topics,

About Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW) is a leading international publisher for health care professionals and students with nearly 300 periodicals and 1,500 books in more than 100 disciplines publishing under the LWW brand, as well as content-based sites and online corporate and customer services.

LWW is part of Wolters Kluwer Health, a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the health care industry. Wolters Kluwer Health is part of Wolters Kluwer, a market-leading global information services company with 2010 annual revenues of €3.6 billion ($4.7 billion).

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