Diversion of methadone and buprenorphine from opioid substitution treatment: patients who regularly sell or share their medication

J Addict Dis. 2015;34(1):1-17. doi: 10.1080/10550887.2014.975617.


Diversion-the practice of patients selling or sharing their medication-is a much debated problem of opioid substitution treatment. Regular diversion by patients was studied at 11 opioid substitution treatment programs in the south of Sweden. Using quantitative and qualitative data, it was investigated whether those patients differ from other patients, their motives for and means of diversion, and who the recipients are. Regular diverters are a small, yet heterogeneous group. Continued illicit drug use, however, stands out as a common risk factor. Pecuniary need and a desire to help friends are other important motives. The client base mainly consists of people from the regular diverters' own drug milieus.

Keywords: Methadone; buprenorphine; diversion; illicit use; opioid substitution treatment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine* / economics
  • Buprenorphine* / therapeutic use
  • Commerce
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Methadone* / economics
  • Methadone* / therapeutic use
  • Motivation
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment* / economics
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment* / methods
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment* / psychology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / economics
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / psychology
  • Opioid-Related Disorders* / therapy
  • Prescription Drug Diversion / economics*
  • Prescription Drug Diversion / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone