Indicators of Buprenorphine and Methadone Use and Abuse: What Do We Know?


Address correspondence to Dr. Maxwell, Addiction Research Institute, The University of Texas at Austin, 1717 West 6th Street, Ste. 335, Austin, TX 78703. E-mail:


Abuse of prescription opioids is a growing problem. The number of methadone pain pills distributed now exceeds liquid methadone used in opioid treatment, and the increases in buprenorphine indicators provide evidence of the need to monitor and intervene to decrease the abuse of this drug. The need for additional and improved data to track trends is discussed, along with findings as to the characteristics of the users and combinations of drugs. Data on toxicities related to methadone or buprenorphine, particularly in combination with other prescribed drugs, are presented and clinical implications and considerations are offered. These findings underscore the need for physicians to be aware of potential toxicities and to educate their patients regarding these issues. (Am J Addict 2009;19:73–88)