The relationship between diversion-related attitudes and sharing and selling buprenorphine

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017 Jul:78:43-47. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2017.04.017. Epub 2017 Apr 27.


Objective: Buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment (B-MAT) is an efficacious and popular outpatient treatment for opioid use disorder. However, the likelihood of buprenorphine diversion is a public health concern. We examined the relationship between attitudes toward diversion as predictors of both sharing and selling buprenorphine.

Method: Participants (n=476) were patients undergoing short-term inpatient opioid detoxification. Multinomial logistic regression was used to estimate the adjusted association of sharing and selling buprenorphine with demographics, substance use behaviors, and attitudes toward sharing and selling buprenorphine.

Results: Among the two hundred persons who had ever been prescribed buprenorphine (73.4% male, 89% heroin users), 50.5% reported they had shared buprenorphine and 28.0% reported they had sold buprenorphine. Controlling for other covariates, the odds of sharing buprenorphine were 3.17 (95% CI 1.21; 8.32) times higher for persons who agreed that it was "right to share buprenorphine with dope sick friends" than for those who did not agree with this attitude. Attitudes toward selling (OR 2.92; 95% CI 1.35; 6.21) and sharing (OR 4.12; 95% CI 1.64; 10.32) buprenorphine were the only significant correlates of selling, with the odds of selling exponentially greater among persons with favorable attitudes toward sharing or selling buprenorphine.

Conclusions: Although considered diversion, sharing B-MAT is normative among B-MAT patients. Assessing B-MAT patients' attitudes about diversion may help identify patients requiring enhanced oversight, education, or intervention aimed at modifying attitudes to reduce their likelihood to share or sell buprenorphine.

Trial registration: NCT01751789.

Keywords: Buprenorphine; Diversion; Medication-assisted treatment; Opioid use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Attitude*
  • Buprenorphine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Prescription Drug Diversion / statistics & numerical data*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Buprenorphine

Associated data