Division of General Internal Medicine

Addressing Barriers to BMT Could Reduce Illicit Buprenorphine Use

buprenorphrine treatment barriers BMT department of medicine albert einstein college of medicine montefiore medical center bronx ny

Buprenorphine maintenance therapy (BMT) is effective against opioid addiction but is underused. Poor access to BMT may contribute to illicit buprenorphine use--often with the purpose of treating opioid withdrawal symptoms--and relatively minor interventions addressing barriers to BMT could improve treatment access, according to a recent study by Dr. Aaron D. Fox, third-year medical student Adam Chamberlain, and associates.

Dr. Fox's study, published online in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, investigated illicit buprenorphine use and barriers to BMT among participants in a Bronx needle-exchange program who volunteered to complete a brief computer-assisted self-interview. Over half the participants reported using illicit buprenorphine, and nearly a third expressed interest in initiating BMT. Participants cited not knowing where to go to get treatment more often than cost of treatment, mistrust of doctors, or the stigma of attending a treatment facility as a reason for failing to initiate BMT. 

Dr. Aaron Fox General Internal medicine albert einstein college of medicine montefiore medical center bronx ny
Aaron D. Fox, MD

Policies such as Medicaid coverage of buprenorphine are important to secure access to treatment; however, these findings emphasize that outreach and education efforts are also necessary to link marginalized populations of drug users to buprenorphine treatment providers, according to Dr. Fox. 

Full article: Illicit buprenorphine use, interest in and access to buprenorphine treatment among syringe exchange participants 

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