Prescription Drug

Evidence-based descriptions of the most popular Rx drugs and their effects. The full spectrum of prescription drug use from habit to addiction.

Buprenorphine

As a semi-synthetic drug, Buprenorphine is used to treat chronic and severe pain and to help recovering opiate/opioid users avoid withdrawal. But, is it addictive? Find out here:

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:

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  1. I have been off subs for 18 days after a 3-4 year usage at 8 mg a day. It has been hard but not impossible. I am 66 and my body is feeling it. I know it will end but I would like to hear that it will be soon. No rest for the wicked. Sub dr is useless never spoke of getting out only getting in. Money was not. The issue it was the shuffle in and out that made me realize that they were a money factory and not a doctors office. Thanks for listing.

  2. If you are having compulsive or obsessive thinking about buprenorphine perhaps you should be on methadone buprenorphine does not cause those symptoms. It become innocuous to a point you forget to take it. If you are craving more buprenorphine when doses are lowered or stopped your not ready to have the drug lowered or stopped. It becomes effective when it no longer comes to mind. This could take weeks months or years. People do not lose control of buprenorphine use because it has a ceiling effect and it doesn’t get you high. There is no using buprenorphine despite negative consequences to home, work, or health. There is a greater chance of you being struck by lightning than being harmed by buprenorphine alone. It is also a very effective pain medication. It should be taken away from medical doctors and given to nurse practitioners that would be required to take insurance and Medicare. Let medical doctors practice medicine instead of what they become. scared

  3. interesting and informative for me article on buprenorphine. ?i would like to do an extended period of stopping my usage. do you have any advise for me?

    regards

    1. Hi Rob. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

  4. I have been on buprenorphine patches (strength 35) for some time now for back and hip pain and my appetite is decreasing. I really can’t think of anything I would like to eat although I do try to eat something every day.

  5. I’m currently taking 24 mg of sublingual Suboxone daily in order to stop my dependance on Oxycodone. I suffer with chronic pain & was prescribed Oxycodone IR (10mg) 6 times daily & Oxycodone XR (10mg) 3 times daily but found that the XR’s weren’t working due to poor digestion caused by gastritis. Even with taking such a high dose of Suboxone for almost 4 months now it still doesn’t last 24 hrs. I experience withdrawal everyday before presenting at the pharmacy for my daily dose. Wouldn’t it be more effective for me to switch back to Oxycodone IR same dose as before but add buprenorphine patch to replace the oxycodone XR as it wouldn’t have to be digested? Sorry for the long question 🤗 Thanks

    1. Hi CathyAnna. Your withdrawals are already a signal that something with your dose or your medications is not quite right. The body’s signals should not be ignored. As for the switch, I strongly recommend you decide it in accordance with your doctor. Speak to him/her about your concerns. He/she will decide whether it is best to make the switch or not. Do not do anything by yourself because there is always the risk to harm yourself.

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Buprenorphine effects

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