Treatments: Buprenorphine Therapy

Buprenorphine Therapy

Overview

Buprenorphine is also an opioid that attaches to opioid receptors. … Suboxone has a few advantages over other medications used to treat opioid addiction, such as methadone. Buprenorphine is thought to have less respiratory effects (and even cause withdrawal symptoms) at high doses, reducing the risk of overdose.

Buprenorphine offers several benefits to those with opioid dependency and to others for whom treatment in a methadone clinic is not preferred or is less convenient. The FDA has approved the following buprenorphine products:

  • Bunavail (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) film
  • Zubsolv (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual tablets
  • Buprenorphine-containing transmucosal products for opioid dependency

How Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine has unique pharmacological properties that help:

  • Lower the potential for misuse
  • Diminish the effects of physical dependency to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Increase safety in cases of overdose

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means that, like opioids, it produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression. With buprenorphine, however, these effects are weaker than those of full drugs such as heroin and methadone.

Buprenorphine’s opioid effects increase with each dose until at moderate doses they level off, even with further dose increases. This “ceiling effect” lowers the risk of misuse, dependency, and side effects. Also, because of buprenorphine’s long-acting agent, many patients may not have to take it every day.

Side Effects of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine’s side effects are similar to those of opioids and can include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Cravings
  • Inability to sleep
  • Distress and irritability
  • Fever

Buprenorphine Safety

People should use the following precautions when taking buprenorphine:

  • Do not take other medications without first consulting your doctor.
  • Do not use illegal drugs, drink alcohol, or take sedatives, tranquilizers, or other drugs that slow breathing. Mixing large amounts of other medications with buprenorphine can lead to overdose or death.
  • To ensure that a physician monitors any liver-related health issues that you may have.

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