In 2015, there have been more than 20.5 million Americans, age 12 and older, who have been diagnosed with opioid addiction. Luckily, for those who have come forward with their addiction problem, there are many treatment plans to choose from such a medication-assisted treatment. Most of those treatment plans, however, focus on using Buprenorphine because of its high effectiveness in the cases of opioid addiction. But what exactly does Buprenorphine does for these patients? Are there any potential side-effects that these patients should expect? Let’s find out.​

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a prescription drug that belongs to the class of drugs called mixed opioid agonist-antagonists, with Buprenorphine being a weak partial mu-opioid receptor agonist and a weak kappa-opioid receptor antagonist. It is available under many brand names such as Subutex, Belbuca, Sovenor, and Buprenex. Buprenorphine is commonly used in the treatment of severe pain, in cases of chronic pain syndrome, and can be listed as a treatment method for fibromyalgia. Buprenorphine is also a well-known alternative to methadone for the treatment of severe opioid addiction, which is one of the primary uses of Buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine is available in the form of tablets for oral or sublingual use. Oral/sublingual use of Buprenorphine is only in cases of opioid addiction. In cases of chronic pain syndrome, Buprenorphine is available in the form of a skin patch that is not recommended to be used for opioid addiction. A once a month, Buprenorphine can also be used as a treatment method for opioid addiction. Buprenorphine is also available in the form of an implant that is placed under the skin in cases where other forms of Buprenorphine have been used in the past to treat the existing opioid addiction. A sublingual form of Buprenorphine is meant to be placed under the tongue for 5 to 10 minutes until it dissolves completely. The usual dosage is one tablet a day; however, some patients may need a bigger dose. The medication is to be used only according to the doctor’s instructions.

Buprenorphine is usually used in combination with Naloxone, which is a non-selective competitive opioid receptor antagonist. This combination is meant to prevent and reduce the abuse potential of Buprenorphine. Naloxone has no effect when taken orally, but would reverse the opioid agonist effects of Buprenorphine when injected intravenously. We will talk about using this combination in a little while.

Buprenorphine for opioid use disorder

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main purposes of Buprenorphine is to treat an existing opioid addiction. The treatment with Buprenorphine is initiated once the symptoms of withdrawal have begun. Buprenorphine will help prevent the withdrawal symptoms caused by discontinued use of opioids. Buprenorphine helps these patients to stop taking dangerous drugs such as heroin, including pills such as Vicodin and OxyContin, while offering them a chance to avoid the difficult withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings.

It represents a part of the usual treatment plan that is used to treat opioid addiction cases along with counseling, behavioral contract, and lifestyle changes. Usually, the treatment for opioid addiction begins with the use of Buprenorphine alone, only to later continue using a combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone, available under the name of Suboxone.

The potential Side-effects of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine side effects

Buprenorphine has been reported to cause some mild to more severe side-effects throughout the years. The potential side-effects of Buprenorphine include:

  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nervousness
  • Fatigue
  • And other Opioid withdrawal symptoms such as shivering, increased sweating, runny nose, diarrhea, goosebumps, etc.

If you experience any of these side-effects, you should consult with your doctor. Get immediate medical help if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction such as hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing. Dangerous side-effects or even death can occur in the case of alcohol drinking during the treatment with Buprenorphine. Do not operate any heavy machinery or drive while using Buprenorphine since it can cause drowsiness.

Buprenorphine vs. Suboxone

Both Buprenorphine and Suboxone have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of opioid addiction cases. Both Buprenorphine and Suboxone have the same beneficial effects when it comes to treating opioid addiction cases, so what is the difference between them then?

The main difference between Buprenorphine and Suboxone is that one of them also contains a substance that we discussed earlier, called Naloxone, and the other does not, with that being Buprenorphine. Although Buprenorphine and Suboxone both contain the active ingredient Buprenorphine, Naloxone is only found in Suboxone, but does that make it a better treatment option in the opioid addiction cases? We also mentioned earlier that these patients are usually prescribed Buprenorphine alone at the beginning of their treatment, only to end later up using a prescribed Suboxone or a combination between Buprenorphine and Naloxone. We also mentioned that this combination is used intravenously since Naloxone does not have any effect when used orally or sublingually. In the majority of cases, Suboxone is prescribed in take-home

How to find Buprenorphine medication-assisted treatment?

Whether you are located in Orange County, CA or not, you will be able to find medication-assisted treatment for Opioid addiction by calling us. We pride ourselves in being true experts in medication-assisted treatment for addiction. We not only focus on treating the addiction itself, but the underlying issues as well. Many times, depression and anxiety treatment techniques are used as well to assist in the recovery process. If we can answer any questions for you at all regarding your recovery, a loved one, or are unhappy with your current doctor or treatment, please reach out to us in the form below.

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