Barriers and facilitators to use of buprenorphine in state-licensed specialty substance use treatment programs: A survey of program leadership

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of substance use and addiction treatment




Buprenorphine; Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD); Opioid use disorder (OUD); Specialty substance use treatment programs


INTRODUCTION: Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD), including buprenorphine, reduce overdose risk and improve outcomes for individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). However, historically, most non-opioid treatment program (non-OTP) specialty substance use treatment programs have not offered buprenorphine. Understanding barriers to offering buprenorphine in specialty substance use treatment settings is critical for expanding access to buprenorphine. This study aims to examine program-level attitudinal, financial, and regulatory factors that influence clients' access to buprenorphine in state-licensed non-OTP specialty substance use treatment programs. METHODS: We surveyed leadership from state-licensed non-OTP specialty substance use treatment programs in New Jersey about organizational characteristics, including medications provided on- and off-site and percentage of OUD clients receiving any type of MOUD, and perceived attitudinal, financial, and regulatory barriers and facilitators to buprenorphine. The study estimated prevalence of barriers and compared high MOUD reach (n = 36, 35 %) and low MOUD reach (n = 66, 65 %) programs. RESULTS: Most responding organizations offered at least one type of MOUD either on- or off-site (n = 80, 78 %). However, 71 % of organizations stated that fewer than a quarter of their clients with OUD use any type of MOUD. Endorsement of attitudinal, financial, and institutional barriers to buprenorphine were similar among high and low MOUD reach programs. The most frequently endorsed government actions suggested to increase use of buprenorphine were facilitating access to long-acting buprenorphine (n = 95, 96 %), education and stigma reduction for clients and families (n = 95, 95 %), and financial assistance to clients to pay for medications (n = 90, 90 %). CONCLUSIONS: Although non-OTP specialty substance use programs often offer clients access to MOUD, including buprenorphine, most OUD clients do not actually receive MOUD. Buprenorphine uptake in these settings may require increased financial support for programs and clients, more robust education and training for providers, and efforts to reduce the stigma associated with medication among clients and their families.


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