Buprenorphine is a prescription used for the treatment of opioids 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. 

Opioids are highly addictive. It can make your brain and body believe that the drug is needed for survival. As you learn to tolerate the dose you’ve been prescribed, you may find that you need even more medication to relieve the pain which might lead to addiction. It takes hold of our brains in various ways. It is further difficult and less forgiving than several people understand. People addicted to drugs may change their behavior. Possible signs may include:

  • Avoiding time with friends and family and spending time alone
  • Changing friends or mixing with not the same groups of people
  • Not brushing their teeth, bathing, or changing clothes
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Being very tired and sad
  • Being nervous or cranky
  • Being overly energetic, talking fast, and saying things that don’t make sense
  • Sleeping at odd hours
  • Quickly changing moods
  • Getting into trouble with the law
  • Missing important appointments
  • Experiencing financial hardship
  • Attending work or school on an erratic schedule

Buprenorphine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This comes as a sublingual tablet for oral use. Each tablet is available in the dosage strengths of 2 mg and 8 mg. 

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.

Buprenorphine is an opioid that is used to wean people off their addiction to stronger opioids such as methadone morphine, and heroin. It is prescribed as a substitute for such drugs. By acting on the same opioid receptors as other opioids, this medication prevents the physical withdrawal symptoms that occur when these drugs are stopped. This prevents physical cravings. Over time, 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. This is because, 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 to use Buprenorphine?

Use this medication as directed by your doctor. Buprenorphine is usually taken once a day. Place the medicine under your tongue for 5-10 minutes and let it dissolve completely. If you are prescribed more than one tablet each day, you may place all of the tablets under your tongue at once or place two tablets at a time under your tongue. Do not chew or swallow the medicine. It will not work as well. 

Buprenorphine alone is usually used for the first two days after you’ve stopped all other opioids. For people taking methadone, the methadone dose should be reduced before this medicine is started. However, Buprenorphine may still cause symptoms of withdrawal in people dependent upon methadone. For drug addicts who have not undergone withdrawal, the first dose of this medicine should be taken at least 6 hours after the last use of the opioid or when the first signs of craving appear. If it is taken earlier than this 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. To get the most benefit from it, use this medication regularly. To help you remember, use it at the same time each day. Stopping this medication suddenly may cause withdrawal, mainly if you have used it in high doses or for a long time. 

What are the side effects of Buprenorphine?

Common side effects:

  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation 
  • Chills
  • Warmth or tingly feeling
  • Weakness
  • Increase sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Sleep problems or insomnia
  • Depression 
  • Infection
  • Runny nose
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowsiness
  • Nervousness
  • Watery eyes
  • Cough 

Call your doctor right away if this happens:

  • Noisy breathing, shallow breathing, or breathing that stops during sleep
  • Weak pulse or slow heartbeat
  • A light-headed feeling
  • Chest pain
  • Low cortisol levels (loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness, or dizziness)
  • Liver problems (upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice, or nausea)
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms (runny nose, diarrhea, muscle pain, shivering, increased sweating, goosebumps, or feeling hot/cold)

Warnings and Precautions

  • You should not drive if you think this medicine affects your ability to drive safely. It will make you feel dizzy or sleepy, unable to concentrate or make decisions as well as if you have blurred or double vision. If you are driving dangerously while taking this medicine you will be breaking the law. 
  • Your liver function should be regularly monitored while you are receiving treatment with Buprenorphine.
  • Use this drug with caution in people with decreased liver or kidney function, hepatitis B or C, decreased lung function, low blood pressure, reduced production of natural steroid hormones, or underactive thyroid gland. 
  • For people with difficulty passing urine, disorders of the bile ducts, chronic constipation, a history of convulsions, or a head injury, this medication should also be used carefully. 
  • Let your doctor know if you have any allergies or if you have ever had an allergic reaction to this drug. This may have an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. 
  • If you have any signs of an overdose, call for medical help right away. 
  • Keep Buprenorphine far from direct heat or light.