Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Public Health. 2013 May;103(5):917-22. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301049. Epub 2013 Mar 14.

Opioid agonist treatments and heroin overdose deaths in Baltimore, Maryland, 1995-2009.

Author information

  • 1Friends Research Institute, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA.



We examined the association between the expansion of methadone and buprenorphine treatment and the prevalence of heroin overdose deaths in Baltimore, Maryland from 1995 to 2009.


We conducted a longitudinal time series analysis of archival data using linear regression with the Newey-West method to correct SEs for heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation, adjusting for average heroin purity.


Overdose deaths attributed to heroin ranged from a high of 312 in 1999 to a low of 106 in 2008. While mean heroin purity rose sharply (1995-1999), the increasing number of patients treated with methadone was not associated with a change in the number of overdose deaths, but starting in 2000 expansion of opioid agonist treatment was associated with a decline in overdose deaths. Adjusting for heroin purity and the number of methadone patients, there was a statistically significant inverse relationship between heroin overdose deaths and patients treated with buprenorphine (P = .002).


Increased access to opioid agonist treatment was associated with a reduction in heroin overdose deaths. Implementing policies that support evidence-based medication treatment of opiate dependence may decrease heroin overdose deaths.

Comment in

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk