Buprenorphine is a common medication used as an opioid treatment. Those who receive addiction treatment for opioid addiction and abuse will often be encouraged to take this medication, which can ease withdrawal symptoms for a more comfortable recovery.
This drug is one of the three more popular opioid addiction treatment medications. It has some unique features that make it stand out.
“According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, opioid-related overdoses accounted for 47,600 overdose cases reported in 2017.”
Buprenorphine can help opioid abusers recover from addiction and get clean. It’s one of the many options out there. Let’s take a deeper look at this prescription drug, and what it does in this article.
Buprenorphine Comes in Various Brand Names
You’ve probably heard of buprenorphine without actually knowing what it is. This opioid treatment is marketed under an array of brand names. They include:
The dosage of buprenorphine in each brand is a little bit different. Some brands also offer this prescription medication in different forms. For example, you can receive a dose of buprenorphine intravenously or take it as a tablet.
The type of buprenorphine that addiction specialists prescribe to each patient will vary depending on the patient’s needs. It will also depend on how each patient is responding to the medication.
A Look at Some of the Differences in Brands
Let’s take a look at some examples. Two common buprenorphine products are Subutex and Belbuca.
Subutex is a sublingual tablet that is used specifically for treating opioid or opiate dependence. It comes in two different doses: 2 mg and 8 mg of buprenorphine. Those who are prescribed this drug will put it underneath their tongue and allow it to dissolve.
Belbuca, on the other hand, comes in the form of a film or a tablet. It relies on a buccal drug delivery system, so all you’d have to do is place the film on the inner lining of your cheek. The active ingredients in Belbuca will enter your body through the mucosal lining on your inner cheeks.
Unlike Subutex, which is usually taken only once a day, those who take Belbuca will usually need to take it once every 12 hours. It requires a more frequent dosing schedule in comparison to other buprenorphine-containing products; however, there is more variation in the doses that are available. Some patients claim that this allows for a more personalized and tailored treatment plan.
How Does Buprenorphine Work?
Medical detox that uses buprenorphine is also known as Opioid Replacement Therapy (ORT). This is because buprenorphine is also an opioid. It works in the same way that heroin and oxycodone does. Buprenorphine attaches to opioid receptors in your body to stimulate it in a similar way.
The difference between buprenorphine and stronger opioids, like heroin, is that buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This word may sound confusing, but it means one simple thing — it only works up to a certain point.
With drugs like heroin, the more you take, the higher you get. This is dangerous, as those who take larger doses are more susceptible and vulnerable to overdoses. Buprenorphine, on the other hand, has a “ceiling effect”. Even if you take more of this drug, you won’t get more out of it.
A More In-Depth Look at What Buprenorphine Does to the Body
Buprenorphine is a very powerful drug. It does a lot more than just bind to opioid receptors. Those who decide to use buprenorphine for opioid treatment should be aware of the other effects of this chemical. Other pharmacological activities to expect include:
- Reduced cravings brought on by blocking κ-Opioid receptor and δ-Opioid receptors and preventing them from being activated
- Reduced risk of respiratory depression with an overdose due to an attachment with nociceptin receptors in the body
- A potent local anaesthetic event by blocking voltage-gated sodium channels
- An activation of the innate immune system by binding with toll-like receptor 4 in the body
It’s also important to note that buprenorphine can be broken down into other metabolites, like norbuprenorphine. This metabolite will have opioid activity, but it is not very potent.
How Long Will You Be on Buprenorphine For?
In general, how long you stay on buprenorphine will be up to you. It all depends on how you’re feeling and whether you feel like you can begin to ease off the drug. Some patients may only take buprenorphine for 7 to 14 days while others may use buprenorphine in Medication Maintenance Therapy (MMT).
Buprenorphine can curb cravings and prevent some addicts from experiencing cravings. In general, those who do a gradual taper and those who take buprenorphine until their physical and mental conditions are stabilized will usually be less likely to relapse.
Those who have abused opioids for longer lengths of time will usually stay on buprenorphine for longer. Many addiction experts recommend staying on buprenorphine until you have not used non-prescribed opioids for at least six months.
Understanding the Taper Schedule
When weaning off buprenorphine, patients will need to go through a taper schedule. This means that they will take a lower and lower dose until they no longer need this medication. Those who do not follow a taper schedule may experience unsavory withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can include extreme fatigue, headaches and restlessness.
This is why most addiction experts recommend using buprenorphine for opioid treatment at an inpatient treatment center.
“According to SAMHSA’s Dawn Report, there were 30,135 ER visits due to buprenorphine abuse.”
Different drug and alcohol rehab centers will use different taper schedules. Some taper schedules take only 7 days to complete while others can take as many as 28 days to complete. Addiction specialists monitor the condition of each patient. They then create a taper schedule that is tailored to their needs and their biological makeup.
Do You Have Any Experiences with Buprenorphine?
Have you tried buprenorphine? Did it work for you?
It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to different drugs. Although buprenorphine may have helped someone close to you, it does not necessarily mean that this drug will work for you. On the other hand, just because someone else had a bad experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a bad experience with this drug too.
If you’re interested in using buprenorphine for opioid treatment, contact us for more information. Our addiction specialists can offer you a free assessment to see where you are at. They can also determine whether this drug may be a good fit for your needs.
If you have already tried buprenorphine or if you have any additional questions, comment below!