A pilot study of primary-care-based buprenorphine maintenance for heroin dependence

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1996 Nov;22(4):523-31. doi: 10.3109/00952999609001678.


The treatment of heroin dependence with opioid maintenance has traditionally employed methadone and more recently buprenorphine administered in traditional drug treatment settings. In this pilot study we evaluated buprenorphine maintenance for the treatment of heroin dependence in a program administered by primary-care providers in a primary-care setting. Seven patients were admitted to this nonblinded open-label pilot study and were offered 6 months of primary-care-based buprenorphine maintenance. Buprenorphine was administered in doses of 16 mg on Monday and Wednesday and 32 mg on Friday. Patients were seen weekly by primary-care providers and attended self-help meetings. Of the seven patients admitted to the study, five (71%) completed the 6-month pilot study and two (29%) were removed from the study. Urine toxicology data showed that the majority of urines tested were clear of opioids in four out of five patients who remained in treatment. These results suggest that primary-care-based opioid maintenance using buprenorphine shows promise as a new approach to the treatment of heroin dependence.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Heroin Dependence / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narcotics / urine
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Primary Health Care*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Narcotics
  • Buprenorphine