Buprenorphine is a medication used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment to help people with opioid addictions manage their recovery.
In this article, we will cover what Buprenorphine is, as well as what it is used for and the ways it could help you.
We will also explain what to look out for before you take the medication and what you need to know when you are taking the medication.
Let’s get into right into it.
What is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is an FDA-approved medication used to treat Opioid Use Disorder. It can also be used as a lower-risk medication to treat pain.
The medication is classed as a partial agonist. It binds to the Mu-opioid receptors in the brain and helps to reduce pain, control drug cravings, and minimize opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Because it only partially works on the same receptors that more potent opioids do, it does not produce the same level of euphoric effect as other opiates such as heroin, codeine, and fentanyl.
Therefore, it has significantly less abuse potential.
Buprenorphine is available in several forms, including pills, sublingual tablets, injections, and patches.
Is buprenorphine a controlled drug?
Yes, Buprenorphine is a controlled drug. It is listed in Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act.
What this means is that the medication has a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.
It also means that the medication is tightly regulated. Buying and selling the medication without a valid prescription is illegal.
Types of Uses of Buprenorphine Pills
Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
Opioid Use Disorder is common in the US and poses a significant challenge to many people’s lives.
There are currently three medications approved to treat OUD in the US, one of which is Buprenorphine.
If you suffer from opioid addiction, a healthcare professional can prescribe Buprenorphine to reduce the risk of overdose and to help treat opioid withdrawal syndrome and drug cravings.
Medical research has supported the use of Buprenorphine to help people who struggle with opioid addictions, stating that the medication is:
“highly effective, enabling a large proportion of patients to achieve either abstinence or a substantial reduction in opioid use, also reducing the risk of overdose if a patient uses opioids”.
Sadly, for many people who struggle with Opioid Use Disorder, their addiction started from legally prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain.
Buprenorphine provides an effective way to relieve pain, with less abuse potential than other opioids such as morphine and codeine.
This means that the medication can help reduce pain, while not being as addictive as other opioids.
The Benefits of Buprenorphine Treatment
Reduces opioid cravings
Buprenorphine helps people who are trying to stop taking opioids feel normal, reducing cravings for stronger opioid drugs
Suppresses withdrawal symptoms:
For people who are no longer using opioids, there can be some serious withdrawal symptoms that make abstinence difficult. Buprenorphine helps to reduce these withdrawal symptoms.
Decreases the risk of overdose
Studies have found that people who are opioid dependent and start to use Buprenorphine have a significantly lower risk of opioid overdose compared to people who are not taking Buprenorphine (or similar medication) to help manage their addiction.
Promotes long-term recovery:
People taking the medication are more likely to stay abstinent and experience reduced withdrawal symptoms and pain – aiding in long-term recovery.
Improves overall quality of life:
People with OUD who are taking Buprenorphine have been found to have a better quality of life, with fewer symptoms of depression compared to those who do not take the medication.
Low potential for abuse:
Buprenorphine is less addictive compared to other opioids and is therefore often preferred to help treat pain.
Reduces illicit opioid use:
People who are taking buprenorphine and suffer from opioid addiction are less likely to take other opioids while administering the medication.
They are also more likely to continue their treatment when compared to those who do not take the medication.
Enhances patient stability:
By helping people reduce their drug usage and manage other medical conditions such as depression, buprenorphine helps to bring stability to people’s lives.
Buprenorphine Pills vs. Other Forms of Buprenorphine
Buprenorphine is available in pill form, as well as other forms.
Forms of Buprenorphine include:
- Sublingual Tablets, Sublingual Films, and Buccal Films: Tablets and films containing buprenorphine are designed to be placed under the tongue until they are dissolved. Examples of these are sold under the names Suboxone and Subutex
- Subdermal Implants: Buprenorphine can be placed in small rods implanted under your skin, allowing the medication to slowly be released into your body over a period of time
- Injectable Solution: Buprenorphine can also be given as an injection by a doctor.
How to Take Buprenorphine Pills
It is always important to take your medication as your doctor prescribes.
Usually, Buprenorphine pills are taken at the same time each day. This will help to reduce any withdrawal symptoms, and will also make it easier to keep track of.
If you accidentally miss a dose, do not take two.
It is also important that you do not mix your medications, as this can result in significant side effects.
The combination of Buprenorphine with other drugs and medications such as alcohol and sleeping medications can be dangerous if taken in conjunction.
If you are taking this medication, it is important to seek medical attention if you ever experience any adverse effects.
While Buprenorphine is an effective medication to help people with Opioid Use Disorder, it comes with its risk:
- Pregnancy: Some studies have found that babies born to mothers who are taking buprenorphine may experience some signs of withdrawal once born
- Breastfeeding: It is important to note that small amounts of buprenorphine can enter breast milk
- Physical Dependence: While Buprenorphine is less addictive than other opioids, people who use this medication can become dependent on the medication and will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if the medication is suddenly stopped.
- Side Effects: Like most medications, there are some side effects to taking this medication such as constipation, sleepiness, and headaches.
If you are planning on taking this medication, it is best to check with your healthcare insurance if you are able to get the medication subsidized. Additionally, you can check if you are eligible for Medicaid finance.
Additionally, you should let your doctor know if:
- You have taken methadone before
- Have problems with breathing, including sleep apnea
- Liver diseases, or a history of liver problems
- Problems with your kidneys
- An enlarged prostate, or problems urinating
- Past head injuries
- Mental illnesses
- You have had problems with alcohol use
- Problems with your adrenal gland
- Problems with your stomach
- If you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding.
Buprenorphine is a medication used for the treatment of opioid dependence. If prescribed, it can be taken in several different ways including in pill form, as sublingual tablets, or as buccal film.
Buprenorphine is an effective medication that can be used to treat pain and help people to detox from other opioids.
It reduces both withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings to help people manage their addiction.
If you are prescribed Buprenorphine, it is important to seek routine medical advice – especially if you experience any adverse effects.