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Buprenorphine

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 effects

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:

  • dizziness
  • feelings of faintness
  • respiratory depression or cessation of breathing
  • sedation

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:

Buprenorphine

19 Does Suboxone (buprenorphine) treat pain?

Does Suboxone (buprenorphine) treat pain?

March 25th, 2014

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.

11 How does buprenorphine work?

How does buprenorphine work?

February 4th, 2014

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.

2 How to treat buprenorphine addiction

How to treat buprenorphine addiction

January 9th, 2014

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.

502 How long does buprenorphine withdrawal last?

How long does buprenorphine withdrawal last?

September 11th, 2013

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.

12 What are buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms?

What are buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms?

July 28th, 2013

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms are flu-like in nature and are similar to those of other opioids, both psychological and physical. Learn more about buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms here.

25 How to withdraw from buprenorphine

How to withdraw from buprenorphine

July 15th, 2013

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid-agonist, and the effects of the drug resemble those of other opioids. So the safest way to withdraw from buprenorphine is under the supervision of a doctor or counselor. Guidelines and suggestions here.

25 Mixing buprenorphine with alcohol

Mixing buprenorphine with alcohol

June 1st, 2013

What are the effects of mixing buprenorphine and alcohol? Can you overdose or die? Mixing buprenorphine with alcohol and its possible harms here.

8 What is buprenorphine withdrawal?

What is buprenorphine withdrawal?

April 13th, 2013

Buprenorphine withdrawal feels like severe flu symptoms, combined with mood disorder(s). Find out more about buprenorphine withdrawal here.

66 How long does buprenorphine stay in your system?

How long does buprenorphine stay in your system?

November 13th, 2011

Buprenorphine can stay in your system and be detectable up to 4 days after ingestion. With a long half life (24-60 hours) and slow onset, buprenorphine is becoming the preferred medication for opiate addiction treatment. More on buprenorphine bio-availability and tracking here.

41 Buprenorphine half life

Buprenorphine half life

September 8th, 2011

The half life of buprenorphine is between 24-60 hours. Learn why buprenorphine half life is so long and the difference between half life and distribution half life here.

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