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Buprenorphine – Benefits and Risks

Buprenorphine – a Treatment or a New Addiction?

Is Buprenorphine an opioid?

Belbuca, Bunavail, Butrans, Suboxone, Subutex, Zubsolv

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic narcotic opioid, a derivative of thebaine, an alkaloid of the poppy Papaver somniferum. It is also known as a partial ” opioid agonist.” Therefore, the drug dose increases linearly until it finally reaches a plateau. Thus, this is called the “ceiling effect.” However, this drug still carries a significant risk of abuse and addiction. In contrast, the side effects are reported to be safer compared to full opioid agonists.

Since its inception, manufacturers have developed and approved a number of different buprenorphine-based drugs.

In 2002, the FDA approved Suboxone® tablets and Subutex® for the treatment of opioid addiction. Ten years later, in 2012, Suboxone film replaced the tablet form. Then, in February of 2013, the FDA approved the generic form of Suboxone, immediately followed by Zubsolv (BupNx) sublingual tablets in July.  Meanwhile, Bunavail buccal film was the brand drug to hit the market in 2014. Lastly, in 2016, the FDA approved, Probuphine®, an under-the-skin implant. Medical professionals install it subcutaneously to provide a steady dose to the patient for six months.
FDA approved drugs:

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

Consequently, the government carefully regulates opioid abuse disorder treatment. Moreover, qualified physicians are required to acquire and maintain specific certifications to legally dispense or prescribe opioid dependence medications.

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Possible Side Effects

Buprenorphine’s side effects are very similar to those of other opioids and could include:

  • chills
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • nausea
  • insomnia
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • weakness

For example, Severe side effects include:

  • yellowing of the eyes and skin
  • severe allergic reaction
  • anxiety
  • nervousness
  • dark urine
  • mood or mental changes
  • pale stools
  • slow and shallow breathing

Also, serious complications or death could result from taking this drug with central nervous system depressants such as tranquilizers and sedatives.

Those who are allergic to any ingredient in Buprenorphine should not take it. Also, you should avoid taking the drug if you are taking sodium oxybate (GHB). This drug should not be taken with alcohol or while taking other medications that cause drowsiness.

Finally, children under 16 should not take this drug and caution should be taken with elderly users who may be more sensitive to the effects. In particular, the elderly should watch for signs of decreased breathing and drowsiness. Indeed, it is also thought to be harmful to fetuses and could be passed through breast milk.

Possible Side Effects

As a result, for those who stop taking the drug suddenly, withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • sneezing
  • a runny nose
  • goosebumps
  • abnormal skin sensations
  • vomiting
  • nausea
  • pain
  • rigid muscles
  • rapid heartbeat
  • shivering
  • tremors
  • sweating and insomnia.

Buprenorphine Abuse and Addiction

Most noteworthy, those who abuse this drug, typically crush and snort it or inject it. When used in this manner, it can produce similar euphoric effects to heroin or other opioids. Due to its agonist effects, it provides a similar “euphoria or high” to different opioid drugs, but with far more mild results in comparison to heroin and prescription opioids. As a result, these short-term effects could be:

  • Euphoria
  • Sedation
  • Emotional numbness
  • Decreased pain

In particular, this drug should never be taken without a valid prescription. Indeed, taking more than the recommended dose could result in an overdose. Please seek help immediately if you experience shallow breathing, extreme drowsiness or unusual dizziness.

After all, using an opiate to treat an opiate addiction may work for some, but is not effective for everyone. Meanwhile, detoxing from narcotics can cause extreme anxiety, painful withdrawal symptoms, and immediate relapse. However, if you or a loved one have become addicted to this drug, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. There are effective treatment options available. Most importantly, the Waismann team offers one of the highest success rates of any opioid detox in existence. Your privacy, safety, and comfort are our priority.

Learn more about Buprenorphine detox and precautions.

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