Characteristics and experiences of buprenorphine-naloxone use among polysubstance users

Robert Walker, T. K. Logan, Quintin T. Chipley, Jaime Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: With a rise in overdoses and medical emergencies related to opioids, buprenorphine-naloxone (bup-nx) is seen as a preferred treatment for opioid dependence. However, the research examining experiences with bup-nx among polysubstance users who may or may not be opioid dependent has been limited. Objectives: The purpose of the study was to examine use, characteristics of users, and experiences of bup-nx use among polysubstance users entering drug-free recovery programs. Methods: This study examined secondary data on 896 opioid or opiate user individuals (53.4% male) collected by drug-free, self-help-based residential recovery centers during intake. Results: One-quarter of users said bup-nx helped them with their substance use while 75% of bup-nx users reported that bup-nx either had no effect or a negative effect on their drug problems. Of the very few (4%-7%) obtaining bup-nx solely through a prescription, over 90% reported relief from withdrawal. However, over 80% of those who obtained bup-nx through illicit means reported using bup-nx until their preferred drug could be obtained and used it for its euphoriant effect. Three groups of opioid users were created including one group with no bup-nx use, one with lifetime but not recent bup-nx use, and one with recent (past 6 month) use. There were differences in substance use patterns and characteristics of bup-nx experiences between the different groups. Conclusions: Results suggest that the views of bup-nx by individuals in drug-free recovery centers are varied, with many seeing bup-nx as not unlike other opioids while others report bup-nx as self-medication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)595-603
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Buprenorphine experiences
  • diversion
  • polysubstance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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