Downward Trend for Buprenorphine Misuse From 2015 to 2019

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0.7 million of 2.4 million U.S. adults misused buprenorphine in 2019; motivations for misuse include being hooked, physical pain relief

HealthDay News — From 2015 to 2019, the prevalence of buprenorphine misuse trended downward, according to a study published online October 15 in JAMA Network Open.

Beth Han, MD, PhD, MPH, from the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues used data for 214,505 adult respondents from the 2015 to 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health to examine past-year prescription opioid use, misuse, opioid use disorder (OUD), and motivations for recent misuse.

The researchers found that an estimated 2.4 million US adults used buprenorphine in 2019 and an estimated 0.7 million misused buprenorphine compared with an estimated 4.9 and 3.0 million who misused hydrocodone and oxycodone, respectively. From 2015 to 2019, the prevalence of OUD with buprenorphine misuse trended downward. Among adults with OUD, the most common motivations for the most recent buprenorphine misuse were “because I am hooked” and “to relieve physical pain” (27.3 and 20.5%, respectively). Compared with those who misused nonbuprenorphine prescription opioids, those who misused buprenorphine were more likely to report using prescription opioids without having their own prescriptions. Buprenorphine misuse was associated with being aged 24 to 34 and 35 to 49 years (adjusted odds ratios, 2.9 and 2.3, respectively), residing in nonmetropolitan areas (adjusted odds ratio, 1.8), and polysubstance use (adjusted odds ratio, 3.9, respectively), while there was a negative association with receiving treatment for drug use only (adjusted odds ratio, 0.4).

“Three-quarters of adults taking buprenorphine do not misuse the drug,” one coauthor said in a statement. “Many people with opioid use disorder want help, and as clinicians, we must treat their illness.”

One author disclosed ties to the biopharmaceutical and other industries.

Abstract/Full Text