Buprenorphine and methadone treatment for opioid dependence by income, ethnicity and race of neighborhoods in New York City

Helena Hansen, Carole Siegel, Joseph Wanderling, Danae DiRocco

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Geographic and demographic variation in buprenorphine and methadone treatment use in U.S. cities has not been assessed. Identifying variance in opioid maintenance is essential to improving treatment access and equity. Purpose: To examine the differential uptake of buprenorphine treatment in comparison to methadone treatment between 2004 and 2013 in neighborhoods in New York City characterized by income, race and ethnicity. Methods: Social area (SA) analysis of residential zip codes of methadone and buprenorphine patients in NYC, which aggregated zip codes into five social areas with similar percentages of residents below poverty, identifying as Black non-Hispanic and as Hispanic, to examine whether treatment rates differed significantly among social areas over time. For each rate, mixed model analyses of variance were run with fixed effects for social area, year and the interaction of social area by year. Results: Buprenorphine treatment increased in all social areas over time with a significantly higher rate of increase in the social area with the highest income and the lowest percentage of Black, Hispanic, and low-income residents. Methadone treatment decreased slightly in all social areas until 2011 and then increased bringing rates back to 2004 levels. Treatment patterns varied by social area. Conclusions: Buprenorphine treatment rates are increasing in all social areas, with slower uptake in moderate income mixed ethnicity areas. Methadone rates have remained stable over time. Targeted investments to promote public sector buprenorphine prescription may be necessary to reduce disparities in buprenorphine treatment and to realize its potential as a public health measure.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)14-21
    Number of pages8
    JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


    • Buprenorphine
    • Methadone
    • Racial disparities
    • Treatment disparities

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Toxicology
    • Pharmacology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Pharmacology (medical)


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