Yes, and buprenorphine (AKA Suboxone) is abused.
Like methadone, Suboxone prevents “dopesickness” and reduces cravings, without getting you high. It is now the gold standard for opioid addicts in medication-assisted treatment, or M.A.T. A combination of the opioid buprenorphine and the anti-overdose drug naloxone, Suboxone is supposed to give addicts a chance to get their lives together before they taper off it.
But Suboxone can get you high if you inject it or snort it or take it in combination with benzodiazepines, a sometimes fatal blend. And Ms. Hileman, then 24, did all those things.
Among public health officials, the effectiveness of M.A.T. has become an article of faith; after all, treatment with buprenorphine and methadone has been found to cut opioid overdose deaths in half when compared to behavioral therapy alone, and it’s hard to argue with that. An addict treating his opioid disorder with Suboxone, many argue, is no different from a diabetic taking insulin. But increasingly, law enforcement officials — and many former addicts and their families — are lining up on the other side, arguing that Suboxone only continues the cycle of dependence and has created a black market that fuels crime.