Where is Buprenorphine used?

Buprenorphine is an opioid medication used to treat pain and opioid addiction. This helps inhibit withdrawal symptoms that are caused by discontinuing other opioids. This medication is used as part of a complete treatment program for drug abuse. 

How does Buprenorphine work?

Opioids work by imitating the action of naturally occurring pain-reducing chemicals called endorphins. Opioids are painkillers such as diamorphine, morphine, and codeine. Endorphins are found in the brain and spinal cord. This reduces pain by combining with opioid receptors. Nonetheless, opioids also act in the brain to cause feelings of hallucinations and euphoria. They can be addictive and people taking them long-term can become dependent on them.

This medication prevents the physical withdrawal symptoms that happen when certain drugs are stopped. It does this by acting on the same opioid receptors as other opioids which prevent physical cravings. The dose of Buprenorphine is slowly reduced until it can be stopped completely.

Buprenorphine is only appropriate as an opioid substitute in people who are moderately dependent on other opioids. In addition to stimulating opioid receptors, this medication also blocks them. In people who are dependent on high doses of opioids, this can cause withdrawal symptoms when the Buprenorphine is started. Therefore, in people highly addicted to opioids, the daily opioid dose should be lessened slowly before therapy with Buprenorphine is started. 

How is Buprenorphine taken?

Buprenorphine is usually taken once a day. Place the medication under your tongue for at least 5 to10 minutes. Let the medicine dissolve totally. If your doctor recommended having more than one tablet each day, you may place at once all of the tablets under your tongue. Buprenorphine alone is usually used for the first two days after you’ve stopped all other opioids.

  • For people taking methadone, the dosage of methadone should be reduced before you start taking this medicine. However, Buprenorphine may still cause symptoms of withdrawal in people dependent upon methadone.
  • For people addicted to drugs who have not undergone withdrawal, the starting dose of this medication should be taken at least 6 hours. It may be after the last use of the opioid or when the first signs of craving appear. If it is taken earlier, it can cause withdrawal symptoms.

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not take it for a longer time than recommended, more often, or increase your dose. Stop properly this medication when directed by your doctor.

What are the possible side effects of Buprenorphine?

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Excessive sweating

What are the precautions in using Buprenorphine?

  • Before taking a dose of this medicine, tell your doctor if you are a breastfeeding woman.
  • Do not take sedatives, use illegal drugs, or drink alcohol. Mixing large amounts of other medications with Buprenorphine might cause or lead to overdose.
  • Make sure that your doctor knows you have any liver-related health issues.
  • Avoid operating machinery or driving until you know how this drug will affect you. Drowsiness or dizziness can cause accidents or falls.
  • This prescription is not recommended for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.