Is Buprenorphine an opioid?
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.” The agonist effects of this drug increase linearly with the increasing doses until it finally reaches a plateau; what is called the “ceiling effect.” Thus, Buprenorphine still carries a significant risk for abuse and addiction; its side effects are reported to be safer compared to full opioid agonists.
Since its inception, a number of different buprenorphine-based drugs have been developed and approved.
In 2002, the FDA approved Suboxone® tablets (buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride) and Subutex® (buprenorphine hydrochloride) for the treatment of opioid addiction. In 2012 Suboxone tablets were discontinued and replaced with the film form. In February of 2013, the FDA approved the generic form of Suboxone, immediately followed by Zubsolv (BupNx) sublingual tablets in July. In 2014 Bunavail buccal film became the next brand buprenorphine drug to hit the market and in 2016, Probuphine®, a under-the-skin implant was approved. It is installed subcutaneously and provides a steady dose of buprenorphine for six months.
FDA approved Buprenorphine 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
Buprenorphine treatment for opioid abuse disorder is carefully regulated. Qualified physicians are required to acquire and maintain specific certifications to legally dispense or prescribe opioid dependence medications.
Buprenorphine Possible Side Effects
Buprenorphine’s side effects are very similar to those of other opioids and it could include:
- stomach pain
Severe side effects reported include:
- yellowing of the eyes and skin
- severe allergic reaction
- dark urine
- mood or mental changes
- pale stools
- slow and shallow breathing
Serious complications or death could result from taking Buprenorphine with central nervous system depressants such as tranquilizers and sedatives.
Those who are allergic to any ingredient in Buprenorphine should not take it. You should also avoid taking the drug if you are taking sodium oxybate (GHB). Buprenorphine should not be taken with alcohol or while taking other medications that cause drowsiness.
Children under 16 should not take Buprenorphine and caution should be taken with elderly users who may be more sensitive to the effects. The elderly should watch for signs of decreased breathing and drowsiness. It is also thought to be harmful to fetuses and could be passed on in breast milk.
For those who stop taking Buprenorphine suddenly, withdrawal symptoms could include:
- runny nose
- goose bumps
- abnormal skin sensations
- rigid muscles
- rapid heartbeat
- sweating and insomnia.
Buprenorphine Abuse and Addiction
Those who abuse Buprenorphine, typically crush and snort it or inject it. When used in this manner, it can produce similar euphoric effects to heroin or other opioids. Because of its agonist effects, it produces a similar “euphoria or high” to other opioid drugs but with far more mild results associated with heroin and prescription opioids. These short-term effects could be:
- Emotional numbness
- Decreased pain
Buprenorphine should never be taken without a valid prescription. 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.
Using an opiate to treat an opiate addiction may work for some, but is not effective for everyone. Detoxing from narcotics can cause extreme anxiety, painful withdrawal symptoms and immediate relapse. If you or a loved one have become addicted to Buprenorphine, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. There are effective treatment options available. The Waismann team offers one of the highest success rates of any opioid detox in existence. Your privacy, safety and comfort are our priority.
We are here to help.
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