Buprenorphine overdose: How much buprenorphine to OD?
Buprenorphine is an appropriate treatment for people who are dependent on opiates or opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers. Buprenorphine works to stop cravings, block withdrawal symptoms, and prevents “dope sickness” as well as the “high” from heroin and other opioids. But use of buprenorphine requires medical supervision.
So, how much buprenorphine is too much? How can you recognize buprenorphine overdose and who it at risk of OD-ing? Here, we detail symptoms of buprenorphine overdose, define high dosage, and potential profiles of users who typically risk buprenorphine overdose. As always, your questions are invited at the end. We try to respond to all legitimate comments with a personal and prompt reply.
How does unintentional buprenorphine overdose happen?
Buprenorphine is the name for a generic opioid contained in Subotex and Suboxone. Buprenorphine works in a way that binds with specific receptors of the spinal cord, brain and gastrointestinal tract and affects other systems of the body, like those which regulate mood, breathing and blood pressure.
Unintentional buprenorphine overdose rarely occurs. Instead, people can OD on buprenorphine during misuse or unsupervised increase of the recommended dose. Additionally, buprenorphine SHOULD NOT be taken in combination with other central nervous system depressants, including other drugs or alcohol; this combination can increase the risk of adverse side effects, including overdose and death.
Buprenorphine overdose – How much is too much?
Because of its ceiling effect and poor bioavailability, buprenorphine is usually safer in terms of overdose than opioid full agonists. The most efficient effects of buprenorphine occur in the 16–32 mg dose range for sublingual tablets and while higher doses are unlikely to produce greater effects. Still, intravenous injection of buprenorphine may cause symptoms of overdose.
As with other opioids, buprenorphine can trigger tolerance in its users. The loss of opioid/opiate tolerance is a very dangerous moment for drug addiction treatment patients, because re-introduction of buprenorphine to opioid naive people can cause overdose. Additionally, you should never mix alcohol with buprenorphine. When you take more than one central nervous system depressant simultaneously, the effects of both are compounded and can cause overdose or even death.
Buprenorphine overdose complications
Buprenorphine overdose and possible complications can include:
- allergic reaction
- blurred vision
- feeling faint
- feeling sleepy and uncoordinated
- pinpoint pupils
- problems rationalizing
- respiratory depression (slower than normal breathing)
- slowed reflexes
- slurred speech
Who is at risk of buprenorphine overdose?
The most common profiles of buprenorphine users reported as overdose cases follow:
- addicts completing mandatory detoxification or abstinent for a period of time-high risk of relapse
- opioid naive people re-introduced to buprenorphine without opioid tolerance
- patients discharged from medical care following any opioid intoxication
- patients recently released from incarceration
- people with confirmed medical history of illicit drug abuse and recreational use of medicinal drugs
- self-administered intravenous buprenorphine users
- users receiving rotating opioid medication regimes
- users taking buprenorphine to treat opiate addiction without professional medical supervision
Buprenorphine overdose prognosis
If you experience any of the signs of buprenorphine overdose, immediately contact a medical professional or a clinic. Overdose can carry serious outcomes, too complicated for a nonprofessional individual to handle. Do not take any chances, especially when somebody’s life is on the line. Buprenorphine overdose deaths can be prevented by treated with naloxone. As a narcotic antagonist, naloxone removes buprenorphine from receptors and reverses respiratory depression, which is the biggest risk to possible fatality. However, we suggest that SEEK MEDICAL HELP in any and all cases of buprenorphine overdose.
Buprenorphine overdose death rate
There are over 17,000 deaths reported annually as the result of opioid analgesic use alone. Overdose deaths have been reported, most involving concurrent use of buprenorphine with central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as benzodiazepines, other opiates, or alcohol. However, there is the chance for under-reported fatalities of buprenorphine, since the statistics have years with not a single reported case of such fatality.
Buprenorphine overdose amount questions
Still have questions about buprenorphine overdose? In case you have any specific questions related to overdose with buprenorphine, please feel free to post them in the following section. We try to provide you with a personal and prompt response, or refer you to someone who can help.
Reference sources: SAMSHA: Opioid Overdose Toolkit
Photo credit: Joe Wu