What is Buprenorphine Used For?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Substance Abuse Treatment – What is Buprenorphine Used For?

In 2015, opioid pain relievers and heroin overdoses accounted for 33,091 out of the 52,404 preventable drug overdose deaths in the United States, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. As the number of people affected by opioid pain reliever and heroin addictions increases in the midst of the opioid crisis, private and government agencies encourage people to seek help through rehab treatment programs that use the latest research-based treatment methods.

In addiction treatment, what is buprenorphine used for? In this article, we will explore the uses of buprenorphine and compare it to other treatments.

What is Buprenorphine Used For?

Mental disorders such as substance use disorder (substance dependence) are often a struggle to overcome. Behavioral therapy and alternative therapy such as art of music therapy can be effective at treating an addiction but when it comes to a highly addictive substance such as heroin or opioid pain relievers, the use of medication such as buprenorphine can greatly increase the positive results of the treatment.

So, what is buprenorphine used for? It is used as a medication in the treatment and maintenance of opioid addictions such as opioid pain relievers and heroin abuse. Because it is similar to drugs such as heroin, it is used as a replacement treatment, but it does not get a person “high” like most opioids do when higher doses are taken.

During detox, buprenorphine can be used to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal since it acts the same way as heroin or opioid pain relievers would, but in reduced amounts. Through this controlled approach, the symptoms can be managed.

It is usually given as a daily dose as it has a slow-release formula. Patients are asked to take the medication in front of the doctor initially to ensure that the right dosage is followed. As the patient sticks to the drug schedule, the supervision can be relaxed over a few months.

Buprenorphine can also be used as a long-term treatment for opioid dependence. The goal is the use it as a replacement for heroin or similar drugs, with the intention of lowering the doses as time passes, slowly weaning the person off the drug.

Buprenorphine Side Effects

As with most medications, there can be unwanted effects of using it. Buprenorphine side effects are not experienced by everyone but if there are side effects, your doctor, therapist or pharmacist should be consulted to avoid serious complications.

Side effects of the medication include the following:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness, weakness and drowsiness
  • Vomiting, nausea and diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose and eye tearing
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping

Buprenorphine vs Methadone

There are several drugs and brands that are used in the treatment of opioid dependence. When comparing buprenorphine vs methadone, there are some similarities and differences.

Both of the medications are used as in replacement therapy for opioid dependence. Both of the medications will not make a person experience the euphoria associated with taking opioids in higher doses.

In moderate doses, both buprenorphine and methadone are roughly equally as effective. When doses are increased in cases of severe dependence to opioids, methadone becomes more effective and is often the preferred treatment method in such situations. Methadone can also be taken more often than buprenorphine – every 8 to 12 hours compared to once a day.

By answering the question “what is buprenorphine used for?” it is easy to understand why it is a common treatment for opioid addiction. Through the treatment centers hosted on Better Addiction Care, you can find the right type of treatment for your substance abuse problem.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.