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Buprenorphine Use

The Opiate Blocker Medicine

Buprenorphine is a long-acting opiate agonist. It is used as replacement medications for people who are addicted to heroin or similar drugs. In fact, this medicine affects the heroin and morphine receptor targets in the brain. But the therapeutic quality that makes buprenorphine so interesting is that this medication does not produce the same intense “high” as strong opiate drugs.

Here, we’ll review the medical (and non-medical) uses of buprenorphine. Plus, we’ll uncover its effects on people’s health in the long-term. Finally, we welcome your questions and comments in the section at the end. If you have a personal experience with buprenorphine, feel free to share your thoughts, as your experience might inform and help others. We try to provide all readers with a personal and prompt response to all real-life questions.


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Medical Use Of Buprenorphine

Medically, buprenorphine is used in the treatment of several conditions.

1. Opiate withdrawal – Buprenorphine is useful and has been proven beneficial to people who’re undergoing detox from dependence on drugs like heroin, morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone. Buprenorphine eases withdrawal symptoms that occur when an addicted person stops taking opioid drugs.

2. Addiction treatment –  Buprenorphine is also useful in the long-term management of addiction. When used as a replacement therapy, buprenorphine occupies receptors in the brain that cause a person to get high. This way, cravings for hard drugs decrease…and a person can get on with living. Additionally, buprenorphine’s longer duration of effect helps even out chemical need for drugs over time.

3. Cancer pain and severe chronic pain treatment –  In the medical field, buprenorphine is an opioid analgesic that works in the brain and nervous system. This is why buprenorphine can be a choice for palliative care for cancer patients suffering from moderate to severe pain. Buprenorphine also works in dulling pain during surgery and when administering medicines that cause discomfort. Those who are intolerant to other strong opioids (like morphine) may be given buprenorphine instead.

How Is Medical Use Controlled?

Buprenorphine is a highly controlled medication in the U.S.

Doctors (including group practitioners) are only allowed to prescribe buprenorphine to a limited number of patients at a time.Doctors have ways to ensure that buprenorphine is used only for prescribed purposes. For example, doctors use prescriptions with serial numbers when prescribing buprenorphine, and maintain a log of prescribed patients for review by authorities. They also  refer patients to drug addiction counselling when prescribing buprenorphine.

You will also be closely supervised when prescribed buprenorphine. During the first few weeks of buprenorphine use, you will be required to visit your doctor at least weekly. In many cases, doctors will only refill your prescription if you reached the required frequency of follow-up visits. Your doctor will strongly advise you not to take alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other sedative drugs without asking for a medical physician’s opinion first. The mix of these substance, if not medically monitored, may cause overdose.

How Is Buprenorphine Used?

When using buprenorphine, doctors usually prescribe the lowest starting dose (8 mg for sublingual, 0.3 mg for intravenous administration) and gradually increase dose on next doses until recommended target doses (16 mg/day on sublingual, 0.6 mg for intravenous administration) are reached. Buprenorphine patches are worn for 7 days, and only one patch can be safely given at a time.

Recreational Use Of Buprenorphine

The use of buprenorphine can be beneficial when directed by a medical practitioner. Any other use outside of a legal prescription is considered as illegal and may be harmful to your health and well-being.

Still, buprenorphine is abused for recreational purposes. When taken at high doses, buprenorphine can cause euphoria. Users report some pleasant feelings of happiness and good mood while on influence of buprenorphine. Therefore, some people abuse buprenorphine just to have these effects.

Mainly, we’d like you to understand that trying to get high on buprenorphine is dangerous. Buprenorphine can reduce heart rate and blood pressure, and is a potent respiratory depressant that makes your lung function and breathing rate drop. Even seemingly small doses of buprenorphine can cause an overdose to people who have zero exposure to opiates… or when taken with sedatives, benzodiazepines, opiates, and/or alcohol.

Risks Associated With Different Routes Of Administration

Snorting – People try to crush buprenorphine tablets and snort them to get high. This is dangerous because the nasal passages have numerous blood vessels. Snorting buprenorphine tablets can quickly introduce the drug in the system for faster onset, but can greatly increase chances of overdose. Nasal irritation and bleeding is also a possibility.

Injection – Others try to crush and inject sublingual buprenorphine. They usually select sublingual buprenorphine because it is more available. This produces very fast onset of effects, but greatly increase risk of having blood-borne infections and adverse reactions to ingredients found in sublingual tablets.

Rectal route – Some users insert buprenorphine in the anus. Rectal route can cause unpredictable effects.

Long Term Use Of Buprenorphine

There is no concrete definition for “long-term” buprenorphine use. When used under a doctor’s supervision buprenorphine, can be used for long period of time. Some experts recommend a minimum of 6 months of continuous use.

Nonetheless, the use of buprenorphine can cause problems in health and emotional stability. Long-term use of buprenorphine can trigger and has been associated with the following problems:

  • Addiction to buprenorphine
  • Dependence on buprenorphine
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Lowered consciousness
  • Problems with sleep
  • Reduced ability to manage stress
  • Uncontrollable and changing moods and emotions

Buprenorphine Use Questions

If you have any further questions related to the use of buprenorphine and its effects on the body, buprenorphine withdrawal, buprenorphine detox, or buprenorphine addiction treatment, please use the space at the end of the page to send us your comments. We will do our best to provide you with a personal and prompt answers to all legitimate inquiries.

Reference sources: NIDA: Buprenorphine
NCBI: Practical Considerations for the Clinical Use of Buprenorphine
NCBI: Long term outcomes of pharmacological treatments for opioid dependence: does methadone still lead the pack?

Buprenorphine Use

85 How Long Does Subutex Stay in Your System?

How Long Does Subutex Stay in Your System?

June 16th, 2015

Subutex (buprenorphine) can be detected in the system for about 72 hours. More on the detection window and metabolism of Subutex here.

5 Buprenorphine effects

Buprenorphine effects

February 12th, 2015

A list of buprenorphine effects on the brain, body, and different body systems.

69 How Long Does Buprenorphine Last?

How Long Does Buprenorphine Last?

August 10th, 2014

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.

2 How does buprenorphine block opiates?

How does buprenorphine block opiates?

May 13th, 2014

A review of the specific actions buprenorphine causes in the central nervous system, by Dr. Jeffrey Junig.

22 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.

18 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.

90 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.

48 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.

27 Is buprenorphine an antidepressant?

Is buprenorphine an antidepressant?

November 9th, 2010

No, buprenorphine is not an antidepressant. But you might feel less depressed after taking buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex). More on buprenorphine and depression here.

9 Buprenorphine sublingual tablets for opioid dependence?

Buprenorphine sublingual tablets for opioid dependence?

November 5th, 2010

Buprenorphine is a new solution to an old problem: opiate addiction. But how does it work? And do critics understand buprenorphine sublingual tablets and their best use?

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