Matheson C, Foster R, Schofield J & Browne T (2022) Long-acting depot buprenorphine in people who are homeless: Views and experiences. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 139, Art. No.: 108781. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2022.108781
People experiencing homelessness often experience intersecting mental and physical health problems, alongside problem substance use and a range of overlapping challenges, including access to appropriate treatment. New long-acting opioid replacement therapies (ORT) offer potential benefits for this group. This study explored the views of people who are homeless and dependent on prescribed or illicit opiates/opioids on the range of ORT delivery options, including long-acting buprenorphine (LAB) depot injection, methadone liquid, and sublingual/wafer buprenorphine.
The research team conducted three focus groups (n = 9 participants) and individual interviews (n = 20) with people living in Scotland and Wales. We sought to explore participants' experiences and views on a range of ORT options, and to explore experiences and perceptions of the acceptability and utility of LAB for this group.
Twenty-nine people participated (8 women, 21 men) and described experiences of poor mental health and interaction with the criminal justice system, including prison. All had experience of ORT and some had a preference for the “comfort” of methadone while others liked the clear headedness of buprenorphine. Participants saw LAB as a valuable addition to the treatment options. Potential benefits included freedom from the challenges associated with daily dispensing and the freedom to be able to attend to their priorities and regain control over their day-to-day lives. LAB naïve participants required reassurance regarding the duration of effect and wanted information and evidence from both their health care providers and their peers.
Participants generally recognized the potential of LAB. The research team identified crucial themes for those experiencing homelessness: emotions, trust, and time. A move to LAB represents a shift in the locus of control to the individual, which, for some is exciting, but for others is daunting. Providers should address this shift in control, and it must to be central to joint decision-making on whether someone is ready for LAB, the information they require to help them decide, and the support they will require during treatment.
Buprenorphine; Opioid replacement therapy; Treatment; Homelessness; Pharmacy
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment: Volume 139