I heard about it from a friend: Assessing interest in buprenorphine treatment

Aaron D. Fox, Pooja A. Shah, Nancy L. Sohler, Carolina M. Lopez, Joanna L. Starrels, Chinazo O. Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background: In the United States, opioid abuse and dependence continue to be a growing problem, whereas treatment for opioid abuse and dependence remains fairly static. Buprenorphine treatment for opioid dependence is safe and effective but underutilized. Prior research has demonstrated low awareness and use of buprenorphine among marginalized groups. This study investigates syringe exchange participants awareness of, exposure to, and interest in buprenorphine treatment. Methods: Syringe exchange participants were recruited from a mobile unit performing outreach to 9 street-side sites in New York City. Computer-based interviews were conducted to determine (1) opioid users awareness of, exposure to, and interest in buprenorphine treatment; and (2) the association between awareness or exposure and interest in buprenorphine treatment. Logistic regression models were used to examine the associations between awareness of, direct exposure (i.e., having taken buprenorphine) or indirect exposure (i.e., knowing someone who had taken buprenorphine)S to, and interest in buprenorphine treatment. Results: Of 158 opioid users, 70% were aware of, 32% had direct exposure to, and 31% had indirect exposure to buprenorphine; 12% had been prescribed buprenorphine. Of 138 opioid users who had never been prescribed buprenorphine, 57% were interested in buprenorphine treatment. In multivariate models, indirect exposure was associated with interest in buprenorphine treatment (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.65, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.22-5.77), but awareness and direct exposure were not. Conclusions: Syringe exchange participants were mostly aware of buprenorphine and interested in treatment, but few had actually been prescribed buprenorphine. Because indirect exposure to buprenorphine was associated with interest in treatment, future interventions could capitalize on indirect exposure, such as through peer mentorship, to address underutilization of buprenorphine treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalSubstance Abuse
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Buprenorphine
  • drug dependence
  • heroin
  • syringe exchange programs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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