Buprenorphine was initially introduced on the market in the 1980s as an analgesic. Now, its primary use is for the treatment of opioid addiction.

One dose of buprenorphine remains active in the human body for as long as 48 hours, which provides a longer duration than morphine. This is one of the qualities that make this drug ideal for helping opioid addicts to break free of their addiction. Since the drug remains in the body for 48 hours, it also ensures that the withdrawal symptoms that people experience are significantly decreased.

Buprenorphine requires sublingual (under the tongue) administration on a frequent basis. Drug administration should always be supervised by a substance abuse treatment professional, and doses must be strictly monitored. Federal regulations require this in order for treatment centers and medical facilities to be able to administer the drug at all.

There are some side effects that can occur along with the use of buprenorphine. They range from moderate to severe, and it should be pointed out that this drug can, in some cases, produce fatal side effects. The most commonly occurring side effects include the following:

• Headache

• Drowsiness

• Dizziness

• Vomiting

• Decreased libido

• Constipation

• Respiratory depression

Respiratory depression is the side effect that presents the most serious problems with the use of buprenorphine, as it can be fatal in some people. Unfortunately, there is no way to correct or treat this problem should it develop.

While undergoing buprenorphine treatment, all patients are regularly monitored to see how their livers are functioning, as some adverse effects can be caused by using this drug.

Even though buprenorphine is used to treat people with opioid addictions, the possibility does exist for an addiction to the buprenorphine itself to develop. The types of dependencies that can develop include both physical and psychological. People who are considering undergoing treatment with this drug should be aware, however, that instances of people becoming addicted to buprenorphine are quite rare.

Often times, one of the primary questions that people have is whether they should choose buprenorphine or methadone as a treatment option. Both of these drugs are routinely used for short-term and long-term treatment of opioid addiction. Dosing requirements may be a bit better with buprenorphine simply because of the drug’s ability to remain in the body for 48 hours, thereby offering longer-term effects. With buprenorphine, patients typically only have to receive a dose every other day, while methadone requires daily dosing.

Buprenorphine also has an advantage regarding the total amount of treatment time that is required to successfully complete a detoxification program. With buprenorphine, treatments generally last for a few months, while with methadone indefinite or sometimes lifelong treatment is necessary.

It is very important that buprenorphine be administered in an inpatient treatment facility, particularly one that specializes in substance abuse treatment. Inpatient treatment programs not only offer patients detox programs, they also offer treatment or rehabilitation programs that are designed to help people learn healthier ways of living. Some of these treatment programs include counseling, diet and exercise, massage, acupuncture, and group therapy.

The purpose in these additional treatments is to give patients a better chance of maintaining success by giving them the tools they need to lead lives that are free of substance abuse. If patients learn how to be healthy and happy (physically and emotionally) then they will be far less likely to have a relapse.

Resource:  Suboxone Treatment

Sources Used

1. Buprenorphine Detox and Treatment. http://www.addictionsearch.com/


html. Accessed 19 June 2009.

2. Buprenorphine. http://www.answers.com/topic/buprenorphine-hydro

chloride. Accessed 19 June 2009.

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