Aim: The aim of the study was to understand the prevalence and patterns of the non-medical injecting use of buprenorphine among drug injectors in Georgia.
Method: A self-administered questionnaire was distributed among injecting drug users enrolled in Georgian needle exchange programmes. The questions covered topics related to drug use career, patterns (frequency, history, dosage) and reasons for the use of buprenorphine.
Results: Pharmaceutical buprenorphine in the form of Subutex was the most commonly injected drug in terms of lifetime (95.5%) and last-month (75%) prevalence of use. 48% of those study participants who had injected Subutex at some point reported having used it to cope with withdrawal or to give up other opioids. 90.5% of Subutex injectors used 1-2 mg as a single dose, and the mean frequency of its injection was 6 times per month. 75% of Subutex injectors had used 3 or more types of illegal drugs during the last 30 days.
Conclusion: While widely misused by Georgian drug injectors, Subutex is neither the principal nor the favourite drug, and it is rather used as self-treatment. The authors consider the introduction of buprenorphine maintenance treatment to be a promising effective measure to decrease its non-medical and illegal use.
Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.