What Is Buprenorphine?

Although it may sound counterintuitive, certain drugs are often prescribed to help patients overcome an addiction to opioids. These drugs are part of what’s known as Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) and are intended to help patients safely and successfully complete detox. Buprenorphine is one of the medications used to combat opioid addiction in MAT programs. Here, we discuss how this drug works and the side effects you can expect.

What is buprenorphine for opioid addiction?

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist that is used to help treat opioid addiction. It can be used either on its own or in combination with a medication known as naloxone. It works to combat withdrawal symptoms by mimicking the effects of opioids and gradually weaning the patient’s body off of drugs.

Buprenorphine can be given as a pill for oral ingestion. It can also be given as a buccal (between the gum and cheek) or sublingual (under the tongue) film.

Is buprenorphine a narcotic?

Yes, buprenorphine is a narcotic and is classified as a DEA Schedule III controlled substance. This means that it has addiction and abuse potential, albeit lower than other types of drugs.

Can buprenorphine cause addiction?

Yes, buprenorphine can be misused, leading to addiction and dependence, which is why it’s important to use this drug under medical supervision.

What’s the use of buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine has several potential therapeutic uses.

For opioid addiction

As discussed above, buprenorphine can be used as part of an addiction recovery program to help patients get past withdrawal symptoms and successfully detox.

To combat depression

Buprenorphine has recently been studied as a potential novel therapy for depression due to the effect of opioids on the nervous system. Studies have found that buprenorphine is a safe and effective way to improve depression and reduce suicidal thoughts in low doses.

Managing chronic pain

In addition to the uses above, buprenorphine is an effective way to help patients manage chronic pain. It’s especially useful in patients who cannot be treated with other pain-relieving medications or who have experienced negative effects as a result of opioid treatments.

What’s a normal buprenorphine dosage?

A ‘normal’ buprenorphine dosage depends on the way the medication is administered, such as a film or oral tablets.
The dose of oral tablets can range between 4 to 24 mg per day. When used for detox from opioids, the exact dose and frequency of buprenorphine are adjusted regularly by a supervising clinician to match the patient’s changing needs.

You can read more about buprenorphine doses for people of different age groups and needs here.

How long can buprenorphine stay in your body?

Buprenorphine can stay in your system for at least 48 hours, which is its average half life (in other words, the amount of time for half of it to leave your system). However, dosage, along with other factors, may influence this timeframe. Your healthcare provider will be able to provide a more precise estimate.

Does buprenorphine show on a drug test?

It depends on the type of drug panel used. Standard drug panels generally do not include this drug. Buprenorphine will only show up on a panel that specifically tests for this drug.

What are some common buprenorphine side effects?

Like all medications, buprenorphine is associated with several side effects. Common side effects of buprenorphine include:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue/drowsiness

Heart palpitations, stomach pain, or tightness in the chest are potential rare side effects, and you should contact your physician if you experience them.

Woman experiencing headache and fatigue

How To Detox From Buprenorphine For Addiction

Even though buprenorphine is usually used to treat addiction, this drug is still part of the opioid family and has addiction potential. Detoxing from buprenorphine isn’t dangerous like other drugs, but it can still be challenging to overcome withdrawal symptoms safely.

Elite Home Detox can help with safe, medically managed detox at home. Whether you want to detox from buprenorphine, opioids, or other drugs, we make it easy to get the treatment you need with our personalized in-home detox program. We’ll help you every step of the way to a successful recovery that lasts.

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