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Buprenorphine

Sounds Like: bue.pre.nor.feen

Classification: Opioid Agonist

Controlled Substance Act Schedule: III

Other names for Buprenorphine

  • Buse
  • Sobos
  • Strips
  • Oranges

Buprenorphine Addiction

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a prescription opioid to treat chronic pain and the effects of opioid use disorder. It belongs to a class of drugs known as opioid agonists. Buprenorphine works by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, for example, as other opioids like fentanyl and heroin. Opioid receptors are responsible for the “euphoric high” people experience when they use drugs.

In the United States, buprenorphine is often used in combination with naloxone (called Suboxone) or behavioral therapy as part of an addiction treatment program to discourage injecting drugs. Buprenorphine works slower than other illegal opioids and produces weaker effects of respiratory depression (weak breathing), making it easier for a person to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Buprenorphine is available in different forms under the trade names Cizdole, Brixadi, Zubsolv, Bunavail, Buvidal, Sublocade, Probuphine, Temgesic, Buprenex, Norspan and Butrans.

How Addiction to Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine produces opioid effects, meaning it has a potential for abuse that can cause physical and mental dependence, especially for people without an opioid dependency. Although recreational use of buprenorphine works slower than other illegal opioids, its effects can last between 24 to 60 hours. Once a person develops a tolerance to the effects of buprenorphine, they might take more. 

Although this is a sign of dependence for the person, taking more buprenorphine won’t increase its effects. However, withdrawal symptoms might occur if a person stops taking the drug. Combining buprenorphine with alcohol or other street drugs could cause shallow breathing or a fatal overdose. 

Buprenorphine withdrawal isn’t life-threatening but can be treated under the supervision of a medical detox program.

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Intended Use of Buprenorphine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two buprenorphine products (Suboxone and Subutex) to treat narcotic addiction in 2002, according to the DEA. Long-term buprenorphine at higher doses is shown to be as effective as methadone at preventing relapses in people with opioid use disorder.

How Buprenorphine Is Taken

Take Buprenorphine exactly as directed by your doctor or pharmacist.

Buprenorphine should be taken as prescribed. Sublingual (under the tongue) tablets are usually taken at the start of addiction treatment, either during detox or at a residential treatment center. Buprenorphine is taken daily until a patient’s body returns to a stable condition. During detox, patients also might be switched to medications that contain buprenorphine, like suboxone.

Side Effects of
Buprenorphine

If any of these side effects become severe, immediately call a doctor.

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth

Signs of an
Addiction to Buprenorphine

Stealing items or money to buy more buprenorphine

Unsuccessful attempts to stop using buprenorphine

Legal or financial problems

Lying to a doctor for another prescription of buprenorphine

Taking buprenorphine in combination with alcohol or other drugs

Injecting buprenorphine without medical supervision

Buprenorphine
Abuse Facts

Buprenorphine costs nearly $6,000 per shot with insurance

Since 2002, more than 80% (138 million) of all buprenorphine prescriptions (171 million) were naloxone combination products

More than 700,000 U.S. adults report misusing buprenorphine