The elimination half-life of buprenorphine can vary from 20 to 72 hours. More on the duration of action for buprenorphine and how buprenorphine is metabolized here.
Buprenorphine does not get you high if you use it the right way. While some opioid naive people may experience euphoric effect on buprenrophine, it does not cause strong side effects. More on buprenorphine and its potential for abuse here.
Symptoms of a buprenorphine overdose can include respiratory depression, miosis and central nervous system depression. 16-32 mg dose ranges are considered “high” doses, but buprenorphine overdose is mainly related to injection. More on buprenorphine OD risks here.
Yes, you can get addicted to buprenorphine. But signs of addiction to buprenorphine can be difficult to identify. A list of physical and psychological signals of addiction here.
A review of the specific actions buprenorphine causes in the central nervous system, by Dr. Jeffrey Junig.
Help for buprenorphine addiction includes supervised withdrawal, physical stabilization, and mental health counseling. Learn where to find help and who to ask here.
Buprenorphine (the main ingredient in Suboxone) is a potent opioid analgesic, and has been used intravenously to treat pain for over 30 years. More on Suboxone for pain here.
Buprenorphine is a partial mu-receptor agonist that attaches to receptors in the brain. More on how burprenorphine works in the central nervous system and in the body here.
There are specific ways to identify a buprenorphine addict. More on what to look for and the options for medical help during buprenorphine addiction treatment here.
Physical withdrawal from buprenorphine usually resolves within a couple weeks. However, the psychological buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms can last for months or longer. Here we review how long buprenorphine withdrawal lasts and what you can do to help ease the effects.
What is buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic drug made in laboratories that is used to treat chronic and severe pain and to help recovering opiate/opioid users avoid withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine is made from thebaine, an alkaloid derived from opium poppies. Because it is derived from opium poppies, buprenorphine is an opioid drug.
How is buprenorphine used?
Buprenorphine is available in brand names SUBUTEX®, BUTRANS® and BUPRENEX®. Additionally, buprenorphine preparations with drug naloxone are available in brand names SUBOXONE® and ZUBSOLY®. Buprenorphine is also available in sublingual tablets (taken by placing under the tongue and allowed to dissolve slowly). Sublingual films (which work like sublingual tablets) and extended-release transdermal patches are also available. Buprenorphine hydrochloride is used for deep injection in the muscles (intramuscular) and for transfusion in the veins (intravenous).
Buprenorphine has medicinal value in relieving moderate to severe pain, much like its sister drug, morphine. In this way, buprenorphine is a painkiller and doctors prescribe it to patients suffering from persistent pain caused by surgery, cancer and neuropathy. What are some other effects of buprenorphine? However, buprenorphine is also valued therapeutically because it can be used as opiate substitution therapy for former drug addicts. Buprenorphine delays symptoms of opioid/opiate withdrawal and addresses cravings for stronger narcotics like morphine or heroin.
Some people use buprenorphine as a recreational drug. Like other opioids, buprenorphine can elicit euphoria described as “high” that causes some people to abuse the drug. Some users describe having pleasant feelings, elevated mood and drifting consciousness on using buprenorphine. Still, buprenorphine can cause adverse effects, some of which are life-threatening.
Signs of overdose or indications that you should stop buprenorphine use include:
- feelings of faintness
- respiratory depression or cessation of breathing
Is buprenorphine addictive?
Yes, buprenorphine can be addictive. But its addiction liability is considered low. Like other opioid drugs, buprenorphine does have potential to become habit forming (a.k.a. buprenorphine dependence) and also has potential for abuse. These are the main reasons why buprenorphine use and availability is highly restricted. The main signs of problems with buprenorphine abuse include:
- compulsive or obsessive thinking about buprenorphine
- craving more buprenorphine when doses are lowered or stopped
- loss of control of buprenorphine use
- using buprenorphine despite negative consequences to home, work, or health
To explore more about buprenorphine, see: