What Is Buprenorphine?

Opioid and heroin addiction affects over two million Americans each year, impacting those with the condition and those around them. Fortunately, there have been some effective treatments developed that assist in reducing the symptoms of withdrawal from these addictive substances, thereby decreasing the chances of relapse.

Buprenorphine – a Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) with Suboxone and Sublocade deliveries – in combination with a comprehensive treatment plan, has been proven to help in recovering from opioid addiction

What Is Buprenorphine?

Our brains have receptors that opioids such as heroin, morphine, and certain prescription painkillers attach to when taken. When taken as prescribed, these chemicals attach to the receptors to block pain and trigger a release of dopamine, our brain’s natural “feel-good” chemical. However, many can become addicted to the feelings of euphoria that result from taking opioids and eventually require more of the drugs to obtain that euphoric feeling. Buprenorphine is also a type of opioid that attaches to the same receptors in the brain but acts differently.

Buprenorphine & Opiate Replacement Therapy

As an opioid partial agonist, Buprenorphine attaches to the same receptors in our brains as opioids, and results in similar feelings as those of opioids. However, the effects are less than with a full opioid (such as heroin) which means the brain is satisfied and withdrawal symptoms are minimized.

For many addicts, recovery will include relapse, partly due to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms which can in some cases, even be fatal. Buprenorphine, through Suboxone or Sublocade treatments, lowers the intensity of these symptoms, making it easier for the body to adjust to stopping. Over the course of opiate replacement threapy, buprenorphine is attached to the brain’s receptors, opioid use will have no effect because the opioids cannot attach to the occupied receptors.

What Are the Side Effects?

Any pharmaceutical can produce side effects and, whether your treatment includes Suboxone or Sublocade, Buprenorphine is no exception. While opiate replacement therapy is an effective treatment for opioid addiction, it does come with side effects that will vary with each individual, including:

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Increased sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • skin rashes, itching or hives
  • Tooth decay
  • Changes to menstruation
  • Decreased libido 
  • Weight gain

There is also the potential for withdrawal symptoms to occur in some cases of long-term treatment, such as:

  • Cold or flu-like symptoms
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Aches and pains
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite

This is why it is important that Suboxone and Sublocade treatments be included as one element of a comprehensive treatment plan and overseen by a qualified addiction specialist. It is suggested that withdrawal from opiate replacement therapy be done gradually to reduce the risks of withdrawal symptoms.

Misuse Potential & Safety

Research has found that Buprenorphine “has a lower potential for abuse than other prescription opioid drugs” and while people may try to abuse the drug, it is very difficult to overdose because there is a limit to the effects it has on the brain.

One way patients might abuse Buprenorphine is by selling it to other addicts or combining it with other medications.

As with any prescription, Suboxone and Sublocade should be kept out of reach of children.

Suboxone and Sublocade Treatment

At Achieve Whole Recovery, we offer two types of Buprenorphine treatments and each has their own uses, administration, and benefits. Suboxone and Sublocade treatments are both proven effective ways to help individuals reduce or eliminate difficult withdrawal symptoms.

  • Suboxone comes as a sublingual (under-the-tongue) treatment that is taken daily.
  • Alternatively, Sublocade is administered as an injection and lasts for one month. 

Addiction knows no bias and can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, sex, or income bracket. And although addiction has many commonalities, every individual is different and, thus, what works for some, may not be the best choice for others. It is important to note that MAT for recovery would ideally include a whole-person treatment plan that helps you gain control over your addiction in sustainable ways.

The right Buprenorphine treatment for you is best determined by talking with a recovery specialist who can integrate your MAT with a comprehensive treatment plan that may include psychiatric and behavioral services or specific therapy services and may include either inpatient or outpatient treatment.

If you or a loved one is ready to start the journey to recovery, reach out to the professional team at Achieve Whole Recovery today and let’s find the best treatment options for you.

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