Criminal charges prior to and after initiation of office-based buprenorphine treatment

Elizabeth E. Harris, Janet S. Jacapraro, Darius A. Rastegar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: There is little data on the impact of office-based buprenorphine therapy on criminal activity. The goal of this study was to determine the impact of primary care clinic-based buprenorphine maintenance therapy on rates of criminal charges and the factors associated with criminal charges in the 2 years after initiation of treatment.Methods: We collected demographic and outcome data on 252 patients who were given at least one prescription for buprenorphine. We searched a public database of criminal charges and recorded criminal charges prior to and after enrollment. We compared the total number of criminal cases and drug cases 2 years before versus 2 years after initiation of treatment.Results: There was at least one criminal charge made against 38% of the subjects in the 2 years after initiation of treatment; these subjects were more likely to have used heroin, to have injected drugs, to have had any prior criminal charges, and recent criminal charges. There was no significant difference in the number of subjects with any criminal charge or a drug charge before and after initiation of treatment. Likewise, the mean number of all cases and drug cases was not significantly different between the two periods. However, among those who were opioid-negative for 6 or more months in the first year of treatment, there was a significant decline in criminal cases. On multivariable analysis, having recent criminal charges was significantly associated with criminal charges after initiation of treatment (adjusted odds ratio 3.92); subjects who were on opioid maintenance treatment prior to enrollment were significantly less likely to have subsequent criminal charges (adjusted odds ratio 0.52).Conclusions: Among subjects with prior criminal charges, initiation of office-based buprenorphine treatment did not appear to have a significant impact on subsequent criminal charges.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalSubstance Abuse: Treatment, Prevention, and Policy
StatePublished - Mar 19 2012


  • Buprenorphine
  • Crime
  • Opioid-related disorders
  • Primary health care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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