Date

October 28, 2021

Type

Publication

Location

Attendees

Beyond Harm-Producing versus Harm-Reducing: A Qualitative Meta-Synthesis of People Who Use Drugs' Perspectives of and Experiences with the Extramedical Use and Diversion of Buprenorphine

Date

October 28, 2021

Type

Publication

Location

Attendees

Overview

The research team conducted a qualitative meta-synthesis based on a systematic search of eight databases as well as hand searching. The review identified varied and often divergent perspectives and experiences with extramedical buprenorphine use. An examination of the reported “normalizing” effects of extramedical buprenorphine suggests this practice as extending medicalized discipline beyond the clinical environment.

Taken together, these findings identify a need to move beyond the tension of harm-reducing versus harm-producing effects toward forms of health care and promotion that focus on the needs, perspectives, and priorities of people who use drugs.

Authors

Abhimanyu SudFabio Salamanca-BuentelloDaniel Z BuchmanPamela SabioniUmair Majid

Citation

Sud A, Salamanca-Buentello F, Buchman DZ, Sabioni P, Majid U. Beyond harm-producing versus harm-reducing: A qualitative meta-synthesis of people who use drugs’ perspectives of and experiences with the extramedical use and diversion of buprenorphine. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2021 Oct 28:108651. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108651. PMID: 34728134.

Abstract

Introduction: This review synthesizes the literature on the perspectives and experiences of people who use drugs to better understand motivations and behaviors related to the extramedical use and diversion of buprenorphine. Given the particular social construction of buprenorphine against methadone, and the centrality of concerns around extramedical use in delivering opioid agonist therapies, a focus on extramedical buprenorphine use can provide an important lens through which to analyze treatment for opioid use disorder. This review is framed within persistent tensions between potential harm-producing versus harm-reducing effects of extramedical use that have long been described for opioid agonist therapies.

Methods: The research team conducted a qualitative meta-synthesis based on a systematic search of eight databases as well as hand searching. The review includes all primary qualitative and mixed-methods studies related to the perspectives and experiences of people who use drugs on extramedical buprenorphine use. The study team carried out three rounds of qualitative coding using NVivo 12, and constructivist grounded theory and the constant comparative method informed the synthesis.

Results: The review includes twenty-one studies. Findings are organized into the following three themes: 1) the experiences of people who use drugs (PWUD) with extramedical use of buprenorphine and their motivations to engage in it (including the desire to self-medicate and achieve “stability”, to manage ongoing use of other opioids, and to “get high”); 2) the relationship between extramedical use and formal medical opioid agonist therapy programs; and 3) the established drug economy of extramedical buprenorphine.

Conclusions: The review identified varied and often divergent perspectives and experiences with extramedical buprenorphine use. An examination of the reported “normalizing” effects of extramedical buprenorphine suggests this practice as extending medicalized discipline beyond the clinical environment. Taken together, these findings identify a need to move beyond the tension of harm-reducing versus harm-producing effects toward forms of health care and promotion that focus on the needs, perspectives, and priorities of people who use drugs.

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