Are you considering taking buprenorphine injections? If so, you may have many questions about the treatment. In this article, we’ll take a look at what buprenorphine injections are and how they work in the body.
We’ll also examine how they compare to other forms of buprenorphine administration, as well as some of the side effects you should be aware of. Keep reading to find out if buprenorphine injections may be right for you.
This guide will cover the following:
- What are buprenorphine injections?
- The different types of buprenorphine injections
- How buprenorphine injections work in the body
- Buprenorphine injections vs other other forms of buprenorphine
- Administering buprenorphine injections
- Side effects of buprenorphine injections and how to manage them.
Let’s get started.
What Are Buprenorphine Injections?
To begin, let’s take a look at exactly what buprenorphine injections consist of.
Buprenorphine injections are one form of administration of buprenorphine. The other common modes of buprenorphine administration include transdermal skin patches or oral administration through sublingual buprenorphine or tablets.
Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid that produces effects such as sedation, euphoria, and relaxation.
Buprenorphine injections are used for two main purposes: as pain relief for severe pain, and as a treatment for Opioid Use Disorder.
Buprenorphine works as an effective pain reliever by increasing feelings of well-being and decreasing alertness.
Buprenorphine can also be used as a treatment for opioid use disorder by functioning as a safer substitution drug that can prevent acute withdrawal once cessation of the drug of abuse.
Types of Buprenorphine Injections
There are different types of buprenorphine injections available depending on your needs.
The three different types of buprenorphine injections are known by their brand names Brixadi, Sublocade, and Buprenex. These three injections differ in their method of administration, as well as their length of effect.
Buprenex injection is injected either into the muscle or vein and is the most short-lived buprenorphine injection, lasting just six hours. Buprenex is typically used in the treatment of severe pain.
Brixadi injection is injected underneath the skin and functions as an extended-release drug. Injections can be given either once a week or once a month. Brixadi is typically used in the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder.
Sublocase injection is also injected underneath the skin as an extended-release drug. Injections are given once a month and are also typically used to treat Opioid Use Disorder.
How Buprenorphine Injections Work in the Body
So, how does buprenorphine work in the body once injected?
Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, meaning that it only partially activates opioid receptors.
As a result, at a certain point or dosage, buprenorphine fails to produce greater effects in the individual such as extreme euphoria or sedation.
This is referred to as a ceiling effect and makes buprenorphine safer than other full opioid agonist drugs and prevents opioid overdose.
When injected into the body, buprenorphine creates a sense of well-being and decreased alertness through the release of dopamine and by blocking the release of noradrenaline.
These two factors work together to function as an effective pain reliever for severe pain.
The effects of a buprenorphine injection can be felt as quickly as within 15 minutes and lasts for at least six hours.
The extended-release experienced from weekly or monthly injections is a result of the injection turning into a solid gel called depot, which then gradually releases into the bloodstream over time.
Buprenorphine Injections vs. Other Forms of Buprenorphine
Now that we’ve covered how buprenorphine injections work, let’s go over some of their features and benefits in comparison to other forms of buprenorphine administration:
Longer duration of action
Due to the technology found in buprenorphine injections that create gel-like depots under the skin, injections are able to produce longer-term effects than other forms of buprenorphine.
Less frequent dosing required
As the effects of extended-release buprenorphine injections are consistent and sustained, this prevents the need for repeated administration of the drug and results in much less frequent dosing needed.
Lower abuse potential
Buprenorphine injections produce a gradual and consistent release that results in a lower abuse potential.
This is because the individual will never receive too much of the drug at once, and therefore will not experience larger opioid effects that are potentially addicting.
Lower risk of diversion
Buprenorphine injections also lower the risk of the individual misusing the drug.
This is due to the fact that the individual is not able to tamper with the dosage and administer a larger amount of the drug. Other forms of buprenorphine such as skin patches and buccal films cannot be so easily controlled.
More stable blood levels
As the depot from buprenorphine injections is released into the bloodstream in a controlled and gradual manner, this creates a stable stream of levels of buprenorphine in the blood over a long period of time.
Reduced opioid withdrawal symptoms
Extended-release buprenorphine injections are frequently used to treat Opioid Use Disorder.
This is courtesy of their ability to activate the same receptors as opioids and prevent withdrawals while greatly reducing the risk of overdose and other negative effects.
Administration of Buprenorphine Injection
Administration of buprenorphine injections needs to be performed by a healthcare professional. The extended-release injections are injected under the skin on areas of the body such as the buttock, upper arm, thigh, and stomach.
Once injected, the liquid will turn into a gel-like substance called depot which forms a lump under the skin that gradually gets smaller over time as the drug is broken down.
It’s important not to rub or touch this lump or area of the skin to prevent too much of the drug from being released at once.
The Side Effects of the Buprenorphine Injection
Like all drugs, buprenorphine comes with its share of potential side effects.
Common side effects you can expect are nausea, headaches, sweats, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, insomnia, and muscle pain.
More serious adverse effects include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, slow heartbeat, shallow breathing, allergic reaction, injection site pain, withdrawal symptoms, and signs of liver disease such as jaundice, blurred vision, and dizziness.
Seek medical attention immediately in the case of these more serious side effects
How To Manage The Side Effects of the Buprenorphine Injection
There are several things you can do to manage the more common side effects of buprenorphine.
To prevent the common side effect of constipation, make sure to drink enough water and add extra fiber to your diet.
Side effects such as headache and nausea may be treatable with over-the-counter medication or through medication from your physician. Seek medical advice for side effects that continue and interfere with your daily life.
As this guide has outlined, buprenorphine injections are used to relieve severe pain as well as to treat Opioid Use Disorder.
These injections come in three main varieties: a six-hour injection, one single-dose injection once a week, or a monthly dose.
Due to the extended-release nature of buprenorphine injections, they are able to produce a myriad of benefits.
These include reducing the need for frequent doses of buprenorphine, minimizing the potential for misuse, and stabilizing the amount of drug in the individual’s bloodstream.
As a result, extended-release buprenorphine injections are a great option for many individuals; talk to your healthcare providers today if you think they’re right for you.
How long does buprenorphine injection last?
Buprenorphine injections last anywhere from 6 hours through to one month. The onset of effects can occur as quickly as within 15 minutes.
Is it safe to inject buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine injections are safe when administered by a medical professional who can provide the correct dosage.
When should buprenorphine be given?
Buprenorphine injections can be given to individuals suffering from moderate to severe chronic pain, or for individuals suffering from opioid use disorder.
What is the 3-day rule for buprenorphine?
The three-day rule for buprenorphine allows an individual to be treated for opioid withdrawal for three days before they are connected to a long-term treatment plan.
What are the bad side effects of buprenorphine?
Some adverse effects from buprenorphine injections include gastrointestinal symptoms, insomnia, sweating, headaches, body pain, and nausea.