African American patients seeking treatment in the public sector: Characteristics of buprenorphine vs. methadone patients

Shannon Gwin Mitchell, Sharon M. Kelly, Jan Gryczynski, C. Patrick Myers, Jerome H. Jaffe, Kevin E. O'Grady, Yngvild K. Olsen, Robert P. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To expand its public-sector treatment capacity, Baltimore City made buprenorphine treatment accessible to low-income, largely African American residents. This study compares the characteristics of patients entering methadone treatment vs. buprenorphine treatment to determine whether BT was attracting different types of patients. Methods: Participants consisted of two samples of adult heroin-dependent African Americans. The first sample was newly admitted to a health center or a mental health center providing buprenorphine (N=200), and the second sample was newly admitted to one of two hospital-based methadone programs (N=178). The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and the Friends Supplemental Questionnaire were administered at treatment entry and data were analyzed with logistic regression. Results: BT participants were more likely to be female (p=.017) and less likely to inject (p=.001). Participants with only prior buprenorphine treatment experience were nearly five time more likely to enter buprenorphine than methadone treatment (p<.001). Those with experience with both treatments were more than twice as likely to enter BT (OR. =2.7, 95% CI. =1.11-6.62; p=.028). In the 30 days prior to treatment entry, BT participants reported more days of medical problems (p=.002) and depression (p=.044), and were more likely to endorse a lifetime history of depression (p<.001). Conclusion: Methadone and buprenorphine treatment provided in the public sector may attract different patient subpopulations. Providing buprenorphine treatment through drug treatment programs co-located with a health and mental health center may have accounted for their higher rates of medical and psychiatric problems and appears to be useful in attracting a diverse group of patients into public-sector funded treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • African American patients
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Treatment entry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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