Help for buprenorphine addiction

Help for buprenorphine addiction includes supervised withdrawal, physical stabilization, and mental health counseling. Learn where to find help and who to ask here.

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Buprenorphine’s opioid agonist effects make buprenorphine abuse-able, particularly by individuals who are opioid naive. Concerns have been expressed for its misuse through injection due to the ease in which the sub lingual tablets of buprenorphine can be dissolved and injected. Often people use buprenorphine recreationally. The drug is also used mixed with other drugs or even with alcohol, to achieve a greater high.

In fact, buprenorphine can be addictive. So, how can you recognize and treat buprenorphine addiction? Who can you go to for help? We review here and invite your questions about buprenorphine addiction treatment or help at the end.

What is buprenorphine?

Before starting to discuss how to treat buprenorphine addiction, let’s start by clarifying what buprenorphine is. Buprenorphine is used to treat opiate dependence on drugs like heroin and narcotic painkillers. Buprenorphine belongs in class of medications called opioid agonist-antagonists and, at low doses, produces sufficient effects to enable opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the abuse of opioids without experiencing the withdrawal symptoms. So how do you know if you’re addicted, or not?

Are you addicted?

Although doctors attempt to monitor consumption and dosages, your body might begin to need buprenorphine to feel initial therapeutic or euphoric effect. And over time it is common for addicts to up their dosage or prolong the usage of the drug. These can be sign of buprenorphine tolerance or addiction, which often lead to taking more pills than recommended just to feel the effects.

The signs of buprenorphine addiction are not always easy to identify. However, some symptoms that can alarm you to possible addiction include:

  • apathetic mood
  • buying buprenorphine on the street or illegally
  • doctor shopping for several prescriptions to buprenorphine
  • falsifying prescriptions to get the drug
  • intense cravings for the drug
  • lack of control in terms of using buprenorphine
  • mental preoccupation with getting and taking the drug
  • using the drug for a prolonged period of time, despite negative outcomes

Buprenorphine addiction treatment

When buprenorphine addiction is already diagnosed, the next step is to address treatment.There are three main stages for buprenorphine addiction treatment: withdrawal, physical stabilization, and psychological interventions.

1. Buprenorphine withdrawal

Buprenorphine abuse treatment involves a comprehensive program that includes physical detoxification. Detoxification will help the body eliminate all buprenorphine and address the withdrawal symptoms. What are symptoms of buprenorphine withdrawal?:

  • changes in appetite
  • changes in sleeping habits
  • flu-like symptoms
  • headaches
  • lacrimation
  • mood swings
  • nausea
  • pupil dilation
  • respiratory issues
  • restlessness
  • runny nose
  • sweating

As with any case of drug dependence, these symptoms occur because your body becomes unable to function without buprenorphine. This can interfere with person’s daily activities and can impact social, personal and working relationships of the treated person.

2. Physical stabilization, or the treatment of buprenorphine PAWS

PAWS is also known as protracted withdrawal symptoms. It is important to remember that withdrawal is a healing process, and you can experiences symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and memory loss for weeks or months after initial detox. In fact, opioid PAWS can continue for a long time. Stress is a huge trigger for these feelings, and you will probably feel the need for self-medication with alcohol or drugs. It is very important to deal with these symptoms physically and psychologically so you don’t go back to buprenorphine abuse.

3. Psychological buprenorphine addiction treatment

Once the body is free of drugs, the next step is working on the mind. Therapy and counseling will help addicts address their problems and factors that caused them to use opioids. During psychotherapy, you learn how to handle stress without turning to drugs, and how to change and adjust to a new drug-free lifestyle.

Getting help for buprenorphine addiction

Confronting addiction is one step, but getting the right help and support for life changes is more than necessary. It is important to know that you don’t need to go through this alone, so reach out and ask for help from your family and friends, trusted religious and community leaders. You can ask for further help from mental help from professionals and medical facilities. Here’s a list of people you can reach out to for help with buprenorphine addiction:

  1. An addiction specialist
  2. Family and friends
  3. Groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or Rational Recovery
  4. Psychiatrist
  5. Psychologist
  6. Social worker
  7. Treatment facility
  8. Trusted religious or community leader

How to help a buprenorphine addict

If you know someone who is buprenorphine addict, the first thing you must do is make sure to not enable their addiction. This means that you should be very careful to not lend them any money or drugs or even living essentials. When you remove financial support, the chances for them to take their addiction seriously and ask for help themselves is higher.

Friends and family can also help by planning an informal intervention or series of interventions during which they can point out that they are aware of the addiction, and no longer willing to enable it. An intervention can help an addict understand that s/he has a problem that affects not only him/her, but his or her friends and loved ones.

There’s also another, more informal way of helping the addict, and that is to directly talk with this person and express your feelings and concerns, without being judgmental, and offer solutions instead. Search for 12 step programs, counseling and groups of people that share this addiction and found a way to get out of it.

Buprenorphine addiction help and helplines

888-885-8202 Toll free helpline for in-patient buprenorphine rehab centers

1-800-662-HELP The government run Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s 24/7 treatment referral line

1-800-340-0184 – National Substance Abuse Index

1-866-437-3253 – 24 hour addiction hotline connecting you to counselors anywhere in the United States to help you get help with addiction

Help with buprenorphine addiction questions

Do you still have questions about buprenorphine addiction and treatment? Or do you have an experience to share? Feel free to leave your comments below and our team will make sure to get back to you quickly and accurately.

Reference Sources: SAMSHA: Buprenorphine
NCBI: Buprenorphine withdrawal syndrome
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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