What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a medication used for the management of opioid use disorder in addiction treatment centers. Buprenorphine itself is an opioid that is also used for pain management as well as opioid withdrawal symptoms. It helps with opioid withdrawals from prescription opioids and illicit opioids because buprenorphine is an opioid agonist-antagonist that binds to opioid receptors. Buprenorphine and methadone are often used together along with counseling, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes in all-encompassing addiction treatment programs. As a treatment for pain management and opiate addiction, it can be used by injection, a skin patch, or buccal and sublingual tablets. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist which binds to opioid receptors to produce respiratory depression and euphoria, however, its effects are weaker than illicit opioids or other opioid medications. Some name brands include:

  • Suboxone
  • Bunavail
  • Subutex
  • Probuphine
  • Sublocade
  • Probuphine
  • Zubsolv

Buprenorphine Effects

A combination of buprenorphine and methadone is highly effective for the management of opioid use disorder. Some advantages of buprenorphine include greatly decreasing cravings and opioid withdrawals without the full effects of short acting opioids. As a long-term opioid, effects can last up to 3 days as it binds to opioid receptors, which can reduce some of the other negative side effects of other opioid medications. Some effects of buprenorphine include:

  • Euphoria or calmness
  • Relaxation
  • Pain relief
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Respiratory depression

Signs of Buprenorphine Abuse and Addiction 

The development of buprenorphine treatment was intended for the treatment of addicted individuals, however, it also has abuse potential. Even when used to overcome addiction to opioids and used under medical supervision, there is a chance for physical dependence, causing withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop using. Addiction to opioids and buprenorphine can include signs and symptoms such as:

  • Erratic behavior
  • Depression and apathetic mood
  • Appetite loss
  • Severe weight loss
  • Dilated pupils
  • Impaired or slurred speech
  • Poor memory and coordination
  • Insomnia
  • Itching

Behavioral signs include:

  • Taking more than prescribed
  • Financial troubles
  • Possession of paraphernalia, such as syringes
  • Having multiple prescriptions from different doctors and pharmacies
  • Withdrawals when not using

Buprenorphine Withdrawal Symptoms 

Taking buprenorphine for an extended time can cause drug dependence and drug addiction. Drug dependence can cause opioid withdrawals when it is taken away. Stopping buprenorphine abuse on your own is challenging because of a high risk of early relapse to stop withdrawal syndrome. Treatment for opioid use disorder from a drug detox center can greatly increase your chances of stopping use. Opioid withdrawals usually last about a week or two, however, some symptoms from withdrawals can last for months. Withdrawal symptoms from buprenorphine include:

  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Fever and chills
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Opioid cravings
  • Abdominal pain

Long-Term Side Effects of Buprenorphine Abuse

Buprenorphine treatment is intended for short-term use and long-term addiction to opioids can lead to several issues. Withdrawal symptoms are common when attempting to stop after long-term buprenorphine addiction. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug abuse, it is important to get them into opioid treatment programs as soon as possible. Long-term effects of buprenorphine abuse include:

  • Lowered libido
  • Hair loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Coma
  • Seizures

Buprenorphine Addiction Treatment

Opioid addiction to buprenorphine consists of several phases of substance abuse treatment including medical detox, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, and aftercare programs. Medical detox can help individuals who are dependent on opioids go through withdrawals comfortably and safely, however, it is just the first step in opioid addiction treatment and takes care of only physical dependence on illicit opioids and opioid medications. Drug rehab is an important next step which can include dual diagnosis programs to treat any mental health disorders. Treating opioid substance abuse includes several forms of behavioral therapy, relapse prevention, life skills training, and other opioid addiction treatments. Inpatient treatment should be followed by an outpatient program to help you adjust back to the real world with adequate support. Opiate addiction is a chronic disorder that needs consistent management of opioid use disorder through support groups like 12-step programming and behavioral therapy.

If you would like more information about opiate addiction and treatment programs available, the staff at DayBreak Treatment Center is available to answer your calls.

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