Wednesday September 28th 2016

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Is Bunavail addictive?

While unlikely, addiction to Bunavail is possible.

When used as prescribed, Bunavail users can develop physical buprenorphine dependence, one of the active ingredients found in Bunavail. However, psychological dependence on buprenorphine only develops in a small percentage of users. More here on the addictive potential of Bunavail, with a section at the end for your questions.

What is Bunavail used for?

Bunavail is used as a part of a full treatment program to help people cope with addiction to heroin, morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone. When used in combination with other therapies such as compliance monitoring, counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, a solid support system, talk therapy, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, etc. Bunavail can be an effective treatment for opiate and opioid addiction.

The medication is supplied as a yellow rectangular buccal film and is applied to the buccal mucosa to be dissolved. It is available in the following dosage strengths:

  • buprenorphine/naloxone 2.1 mg/0.3mg
  • buprenorphine/naloxone 4.2 mg/0.7mg
  • buprenorphine/naloxone 6.3mg /1.0mg

The general recommended daily dose of Bunavail buccal film is 8.4/1.4mg taken in a single dose, once per day. Daily maintenance doses can range anywhere from 2.1/0.3mg buprenorphine/naloxone up to 12.6/2.1mg buprenorphine/naloxone. Doses are adjusted according to the individual needs of patients, but doses higher than 12.6/2.1mg have not shown any clinical advantage. Further, Bunavail can stay in your system for up to two weeks after last dose, making its management relatively easy when tracking use via drug testing.

Bunavail for opiate or opioid misuse

Bunavail has been recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence, but should be used along with complete treatment plan which includes psychotherapy for best results. In fact, millions of people in the U.S. are currently dependent on prescription or illegal opioids and are unable to stop using. Addiction to morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone or heroin locks people in a vicious cycle, and sometimes they cannot stop abusing drugs even if they are aware of the potential risks and dangers. Opioid dependence and addiction are complex medical conditions that require professional help and long-term treatment.

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What’s in Bunavail that is addictive?

Bunavail contains two active ingredients, buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is a narcotic antagonist that blocks the effect of narcotics. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist at the mu-opioid receptor, and long-term or chronic use produces physical dependence. The two have been combined to prevent abuse and misuse.

Why?

Because buprenorphine is a Schedule III narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Buprenorphine belongs to a class of drugs which are called mixed narcotic agonist-antagonist and it is helpful in preventing withdrawal symptoms caused by cessation of opiate-type narcotics.  However, buprenorphine (just like other opioids), has the potential of being abused and misused.

In sum, even though Bunavail is used as a medicine in the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence, Bunavail can be habit-forming. Note that people who are dependent on opioids and are prescribed to take this medication, face far less chances of getting addicted to it. However, misuse of this narcotic medicine can cause addiction, especially if a child or a opioid-naive person abuses it. Signs of symptoms of addiction to buprenorphine can include loss of control of drug use, cravings, and/or obsessive thinking about buprenorphine. The main sign that you are addicted to buprenorphine, however, is the presence of negative consequences of use, especially impacting your health, family, work, or social life.

How addictive is Bunavail?

Bunavail addictive potential is relatively moderate when compared to other opioid medications. Bunavail contains buprenorphine as an active ingredient, which is a Schedule III narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule III medications:

  1. have a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II
  2. have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States
  3. when abused, may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence

Additionally, addiction to Bunavail is not very likely to develop because of the naloxone contained in the medication. However, addiction to Bunavail is still possible, especially if a person is chronically abusing and taking larger doses for a longer period of time.

Deciding to take Bunavail

Bunavail can potentially help facilitate your recovery process. Before you make any decisions, talk to your doctor or your pharmacist for any questions you might have. We have compiled a list of several advantages and disadvantages of Bunavail use, to help keep you informed.

+ PROS

1. Bunavail can assist in the maintenance treatment of opiate/opioid addicted adults.
2. Buprenorphine can reduce drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
3. Naloxone stops the effects of harder opiate/opiate drugs and can deter abuse.
4. Bunavail can increase the chances of a successful recovery from opiate/opioid addiction.

– CONS

1. Can be habit-forming.
2. Side effects include respiration problems, nausea, dizziness, or confusion.
3. Withdrawal symptoms occur after regular dosing of a few weeks or more.
4. Risky for those taking other medications, those diagnosed with certain conditions, or pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Bunavail addiction potential questions

Bunavail is helpful in managing withdrawal symptoms and discomfort from stronger drugs, but patients should be attending structured and intensive treatment for best results in recovery. If you are thinking about using Bunavail as a part of your addiction treatment program, or you know someone who can benefit from it, you can ask an addiction professional or your doctor. Or, you can ask us by posting your questions and comments in the section below. We try to provide a personal and prompt answer to all legitimate inquiries and would be happy to help you.

Reference Sources: FDA: Highlights of Prescribing Information
FDA: Medication Guide: BUNAVAIL (buprenorphine and naltrexone) Buccal Film
DailyMed: BUNAVAIL-buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride dihydrate film
PBM: Buprenorphine/Naltrexone Buccal Film (BUNAVAIL)
NC State Health Plan: Buprenorphine tablets and Buprenorphine/Naltrexone teblets/films
University of Utah-Health Care: Buprenorphine Hydrochloride, Naloxone Hydrochloride Oral dissolving film

Photo credit: Stefan Baudy

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