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Prior Diverted Buprenorphine Experiences among People who are Incarcerated


Background: In response to opioid-related fatal overdose, in 2016, the Rhode Island Department of Corrections implemented a program to provide medications for opioid use disorder to medically eligible individuals who are incarcerated. However, individuals involved in the criminal justice system still face barriers initiating and staying in treatment prior to and after release from incarceration, a contributing factor to buprenorphine diversion. This study examines prior experiences with and perceptions of diverted buprenorphine in the community among individuals who are incarcerated and currently prescribed medication for opioid use disorder. Methods: We conducted 40 semi-structured, qualitative interviews with people who were incarcerated and enrolled in the comprehensive medications for opioid use disorder program at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. Analysis applied a general, inductive approach in NVivo 12. Results: We found that participants used diverted buprenorphine for self-treatment of withdrawal symptoms and detoxification and to manage OUD, but not for its euphoric effects. Diverted buprenorphine was also one of the main contributors to initiating formal treatment from a prescriber. Participants perceived that it was not right to divert buprenorphine, but also that illicit buprenorphine could still benefit someone who may not otherwise have access to the medication. Conclusions: Despite evidence that buprenorphine is effective and safe for treating opioid use disorder, strict regulations limit access to this life-saving medication. Efforts are needed to increase access to buprenorphine for individuals in need of medication for opioid use disorder in the community and in correctional settings.
Thesis (M. P. H.)--Brown University, 2021


Wieck, Morgan, "Prior Diverted Buprenorphine Experiences among People who are Incarcerated" (2021). Health Services, Policy & Practice Theses and Dissertations. Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library.