uprenorphine (BYOO-pre-NOR-feen) is an opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction in the privacy of a medical clinic. Buprenorphine can be dispensed for take home use, by prescription.This in addition to buprenorphine’s pharmacological and safety profile makes it an attractive treatment for patients addicted to opioids.
Buprenorphine is different from other opioids in that it is a partial opioid agonist. This property of buprenorphine may allow for;
- less euphoria and physical dependence*
- lower potential for misuse*
- a ceiling on opioid effects*
- relatively mild withdrawal profile*
At the appropriate dose buprenorphine treatment may:
- Suppress symptoms of opioid withdrawal
- Decrease cravings for opioids
- Reduce illicit opioid use
- Block the effects of other opioids
- Help patients stay in treatment
*Examples of common opiates include: Heroin, Oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet) Morphine, Lortab, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Tramadol, Darvicet, Codeine, and Hydrocodone. These are all narcotic analgesics, or painkillers.
How is Buprenorphine Used in Treatment?
At Choices of Louisiana, Inc., the goal is to reduce illegal opiate use. The medical community recognizes opioid addiction as a chronic medical disorder that can be treated effectively with a combination of medication and psychosocial services. With proper dosing and counseling, a patient in treatment will improve their health and social productivity. Another benefit of treatment is that the negative consequences of addiction such as crime, jail time, disease and premature death. Treatment is planned to eliminate opiate use among addicts by stabilizing them on methadone for as long as needed to help restore their lives and avoid returning to old behaviors of using illegal drugs.
The effects of MAT are to relieve the cravings of narcotics, suppress cravings, and block the “high” associated with heroin and pain pills. MAT is safe and non-sedating. If on the proper dosage, buprenorphine is considered to be so safe that pregnant women that are addicted to opiates can take it.
How effective is Methadone Maintenance Treatment?
The success of methadone in decreasing criminality, death, disease and illegal drug use is well recognized:
Treatment Benefits for Families, Loved Ones, and Society
- Enriched family stability
- Improved employment stability
- Reduced or Stopped Use of Injection Drugs – Buprenorphine is taken orally; therefore, there is no need for a needle. The effects of Buprenorphine last longer than heroin or opiate-based drugs
- Disease Transmission Reduction – Maintenance therapy reduces the frequency of injecting and of needle sharing. Treatment also provides an important point of contact with service providers and supplies an opportunity to teach drug users harm reduction techniques such as how to prevent HIV/AIDs, STDs, hepatitis, endocarditis, tuberculosis and other health problems that endanger drug users
- Reduced Risk of Overdose
- Reduced Mortality
- Treatment reduces criminal behavior Drug offense arrests decline because Suboxone patients reduce or stop buying and using illegal drugs. Arrests for predatory crimes decline because Suboxone patients no longer need to finance costly opiate addiction and because treatment allows many patients to stabilize their lives and return to legitimate employment
Adverse Reactions with Buprenorphine
Take this medication as only directed by your physician. Feel free to ask as many questions as you need to gain understanding. Our staff is highly qualified and will be able to answer any of your concerns.
The medication will not work properly if you chew or swallow the tablets. Doing so will result in withdrawal symptoms. Do not inject this medication due to the danger of “shooting up” and will result in bad withdrawal symptoms. You must store Buprenorphine at room temperature and away from heat and moisture.
– Most Common Side Effects: Constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, sweating, itching, nausea
– Severe Side Effects (SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION)
Allergic reactions (difficulty breathing, swelling of mouth, tightness in chest), confusion, irregular heartbeat, seizures, liver problems such as yellowing of the eyes, dark colored urine, light colored stools, lower stomach pain, decreased appetite for several days
Medication levels are individually determined and are based on the effective management of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. The proper maintenance dose is one at which narcotic craving is averted, without creating euphoria, sedation or analgesia for 24 to 36 hours. Studies of Buprenorphine effectiveness have shown that doses between 4mg-24mg a day are required for most patients are more effective in helping patients reduce opiate use, stay in treatment, and reduce criminal behaviors.
Is Buprenorphine Addictive?
Addiction is the physical dependence and tolerance to a drug or substance, and is characterized by compulsive use of the drug, despite adverse consequences. Those that are dependent up on their medication in an opiate program are able for function completely normal in society, by maintaining employment, have no physical impairment, and raise their families. Misunderstandings concerning Buprenorphine have led some to believe that drug addiction is not a disease that can be treated medically. With that said, do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. Doing so will result in withdrawal symptoms.
For many addicts, the alternative to treatment is continued illegal opiate abuse, criminal behavior, jail time, health consequences, and premature death.
The duration of treatment should be individually and clinically determined. Studies have shown that positive outcomes are contingent upon length of treatment. Appropriate referrals are made throughout the treatment process. Continued maintenance is based on a clinically effective dose used with counseling. The decision to medically taper off of the medication will be made by the patient and treatment team. A very slow taper is recommended and those patients with a high risk of relapse should be re-stabilized.