Living with opioid use disorder can be debilitating. For Black folks and people of color, accessing treatment can be even more challenging. One of those treatments is buprenorphine, a medication used to help people quit or reduce their use of opiates.
Opioid overdose deaths among Black Americans aged 15-24 increased by 86% between 2019-2020 — the most recent year data is available for — according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With Black Americans experiencing the highest increase in opioid overdose deaths, medications like buprenorphine are critical to prevent death.
But, because of stigma, price, and required monitoring, getting a filled prescription for this drug has become increasingly more difficult.
Buprenorphine is not a new medication. It was approved for clinical use in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration. The medication helps diminish the effects of physical dependency — like withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Due to buprenorphine being an opioid, there is a stigma attached to replacing one drug with another.