What is it?
Buprenorphine is considered to be a “partial opioid agonist”. This means that it produces the same effects that more traditionally abused opioids do, but to a lesser magnitude. As with other drugs, the effects increase as the dosage increases but with buprenorphine, the effects plateau after a certain dosage. This is called the “ceiling effect”. After a certain dosage even, effects are not felt and can cause withdrawal symptoms. Due to this effect, there is a lesser risk of overdose, abuse, and addiction. 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.
In many prescription versions of buprenorphine, there is also a compound called naloxone hydrochloride. While it does not contribute to the opioid effects of the drug, it helps prevent intravenous use by injection. When an individual does attempt to inject the prescription drug that contains naloxone hydrochloride, he/she will experience withdrawal symptoms. However, if he/she uses the drug as directed, which tends to be sublingual, then it will work as it’s supposed to.
Prescription drugs include:
- Subutex (buprenorphine hydrochloride)- this brand is no longer being sold
- Suboxone (buprenorphine hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride)
- Generic versions of Suboxone
Common names include:
What are the health risks?
Short term symptoms
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle aches or cramping
- Dilation of pupils
- Distress or irritability
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. 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.