What is Buprenorphine Treatment?

Buprenorphine is a medication that is often prescribed for the treatment of opiate addiction. While this drug is a schedule iii controlled substance, when it is combined with other medications and with psychotherapy it can greatly improve recovery outcomes for those suffering from an addiction to heroin or certain types of prescription painkillers.

This medication was first approved by the FDA in 2002 and has since become a very common method of treatment in rehab centers and hospital settings in which patients are treated for opiate dependence. Buprenorphine is less risky than many other opiate addiction treatment methods that are available, and when it is used properly it can minimize the risk of relapse or further opiate abuse.

Treating Opiate Addiction

The primary concern in treatment for an opiate addiction is withdrawal symptoms. Cravings and other symptoms of withdrawal such a diarrhea, bone or joint pain and insomnia can make it difficult for an opiate addict to remain drug free even with the best of intentions. Recovering opiate addicts are often faced with post-withdrawal symptoms that further escalate their desire to use. They feel depressed or anxious, they have trouble feeling happy and it can be difficult to feel at ease without the use of a harsh drug.

Buprenorphine can be used to alleviate the short-term impact of opiate withdrawal and may also be used to alleviate some of the post-withdrawal symptoms that patients report experiencing for months or even years following their drug use. The National Center for Biotechnology reports that buprenorphine is an effective medication for the long-term control of opiate dependence and, is less habit forming than other drugs.

Medications Containing Buprenorphine

medication replacement therapies

Subutex is a medication that contains buprenorphine.

Most of the time, patients are not prescribed buprenorphine alone—the use of a medication that includes this active ingredient is generally imposed. Two of the most common medications that are currently available with the active ingredient buprenorphine in them include:

  • Subutex – a medication that was only recently approved for the treatment of opiate addiction. This drug contains the active ingredient buprenorphine and creates a similar patient response to methadone.
  • Suboxone – a medication that includes two active ingredients, buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone acts to prevent the user from feeling the effects of the opiate rendering the use of opiates ineffective and undesired.

If you or someone you love is addicted to an opiate, buprenorphine treatment may provide a solution to the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This treatment, like other medication based treatments, is best when combined with other forms of therapy including psychotherapy, support and counseling.


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