Blog: Street-Obtained Buprenorphine: Drug of Abuse, or Proof of Limited Access?

for sale sign“In a recent article from the journal Addictive Behaviors, researchers discovered that buprenorphine was rarely, if ever, used by IV drug users to get high. In fact, the vast majority of people who reported acquiring the medication from an illicit source did so with the expressed purpose of avoiding withdrawal symptoms. This seems to contradict the common misconception that heroin users “get high” on Suboxone, therefore we should promote abstinence-based treatment. To the contrary, studies like this one could be interpreted as evidence there is not enough access to these medications – if there were, people wouldn’t be forced to seek the drugs from street dealers or friends.”

The table on the Knowledge and Use of Buprenorphine among 602 Injection Drug Users in Baltimore, Maryland can be accessed at:

The article abstract is available at:

Source: – Substance Matters: Science and Addiction – August 24, 2013


  1. The danger with prescribing any abusable is exactly that – abuse and diversion. Drug addicts have a highly effective treatment to control withdrawals – buprenorphine while experience a high by using a pure agonist – heroin. If any physician could prescribe buprenorphine, we would have a similar situation with opioid drugs to treat ‘chronic’ pain. The tragic consequence was when ‘pain’ doctors started prescribing methadone, not realize the inherent danger of the drug. Almost all the overdose deaths from methadone can be traced to individual physicians and not to the methadone clinic.

    Buprenorphine is one of the most abused pharmaceuticals in the world and several countries have banned it. Opioids drugs are best suited for very short-term detox and have a very poor track record as maintenance or substitution medication. So now the treatment also gets stigmatized.

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