Intravenous use of prescribed sublingual buprenorphine tablets by drug users receiving maintenance therapy in France

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2003 Mar 1;69(2):175-81. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(02)00312-5.


Background: In 1996, sublingual buprenorphine was authorized for prescription in France for maintenance therapy (MT). MT should facilitate the rehabilitation of opioid-dependent drug users and reduce the risks associated with injection. However, misuse and side effects have been reported.

Objectives: To assess the frequency of buprenorphine injection in 404 subjects on buprenorphine MT and to determine the factors associated with the injection of buprenorphine.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was used to collect data from subjects on buprenorphine MT seeking treatment from health care networks, specialized structures, a prison and a hostel in three different regions of France (1998-1999). Information was collected by trained interviewers using a structured questionnaire.

Results: About half (46.5%) of the subjects on MT (188/404) had ever injected buprenorphine; 67.2% of this subgroup had since used both injected and sublingual buprenorphine. Variables associated with buprenorphine injection were having injected a substance other than buprenorphine (odds ratio (OR): 13.18; 95% CI: 5.36-32.42), cannabis use (OR: 2.34; 95% CI: 1.51-3.63) and having a source of income other than a salary (OR: 1.58; 95% CI: 1.02-2.45) and heroin use (OR: 0.23; 95% CI: 0.09-0.61).

Conclusions: To decrease buprenorphine injection, prescribers of buprenorphine should participate in networks with specialized centers, and social and professional rehabilitation programs should be implemented for subjects on buprenorphine MT.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Sublingual
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Buprenorphine* / administration & dosage
  • Buprenorphine* / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcotics* / administration & dosage
  • Narcotics* / therapeutic use
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / rehabilitation*


  • Narcotics
  • Buprenorphine