Buprenorphine (BUP)

What is it?

Buprenorphine is considered to be a “partial opioid agonist”.[1] This means that it produces the same effects that more traditionally abused opioids do, but to a lesser magnitude.[1] As with other drugs, the effects increase as the dosage increases but with buprenorphine, the effects plateau after a certain dosage.[1] This is called the “ceiling effect”.[1] After a certain dosage even, effects are not felt and can cause withdrawal symptoms.[1] Due to this effect, there is a lesser risk of overdose, abuse, and addiction.[1] Buprenorphine is often used in opioid addiction treatment plans as it allows the individual to stop using the more dangerous opioids without experience withdrawal symptoms.[1]

In many prescription versions of buprenorphine, there is also a compound called naloxone hydrochloride.[2] While it does not contribute to the opioid effects of the drug, it helps prevent intravenous use by injection.[2] When an individual does attempt to inject the prescription drug that contains naloxone hydrochloride, he/she will experience withdrawal symptoms.[2] However, if he/she uses the drug as directed, which tends to be sublingual, then it will work as it’s supposed to.[2]

Prescription drugs include:

  • Subutex (buprenorphine hydrochloride)- this brand is no longer being sold[3]
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride)
  • Generic versions of Suboxone[2]

Common names include:

  • Bupe

What are the health risks?

Short term symptoms

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches or cramping
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Distress or irritability[1]

Long term effects

  • Hopefully an addiction free individual!


How is it used?

Buprenorphine tablets are typically intended to be taking sublingually. This means placing the tablet underneath the tongue until they melt.[3] Some attempt to inject buprenorphine, but that does not create the desired effects of the drug –rather the user begin to experience withdrawal symptoms instead.[2]



  1. http://buprenorphine.samhsa.gov/about.html
  2. http://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=2
  3. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a605002.html