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Buprenorphine is a prescription drug that is used to treat opiate addiction/dependency. As a medication-assisted treatment, it suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids, does not cause euphoria in the opioid-dependent patient, and it blocks the effects of the other opioids for at least 24 hours. It can be used for both detox and long term treatment. Success rates, as measured by retention in treatment and one-year sobriety, have been reported as high as 40 to 60 percent in some studies. Treatment does not require participation in a highly-regulated federal program such as a methadone clinic. Since buprenorphine does not cause euphoria in patients with opioid addiction, its abuse potential is substantially lower than methadone.
Medication-assisted treatment with Suboxone for opioid addiction and dependence is much like using medication to treat other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes. Taking medication for opioid addiction is not the same as substituting one addictive drug for another. People who are opioid dependent do not get an euphoric effect or feel high when they take buprenorphine properly. Buprenorphine tricks the brain into thinking that a full opioid like oxycodone or heroin is in the lock, and this suppresses the withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with that problem opioid.
In 2002, the FDA approved the use of the unique opioid buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone) for the treatment of opioid addiction in the U.S.
Are you suffering from opiate addiction? Opiates are commonly referred to as painkillers and are derived from opium or synthetic versions of it to aid with pain relief. Some common opiates are Vicodin, Hydrocodone, Heroin, Morphine, Methadone, Percocet, OxyContin, Oxycodone, Fentanyl, and Codeine. Those suffering from opiate addiction often times experience side effects such as sedation, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, constipation, physical dependence, tolerance, and respiratory depression. There are several treatment options for opiate addiction, one being opioid replacement therapy in which medications are given to reduce or eliminate the use of illicit opiates. One such medication being used for the treatment of opiate addiction is Suboxone.
Buprenorphine is a long-acting form of medicated-assisted treatment, meaning that it gets ‘stuck’ in the brain’s opiate receptors for about 24 hours. When buprenorphine is stuck in the receptor, the problem ‘full opioids’ can’t get in. This gives the person with opioid addiction a 24-hour reprieve each time a dose of Suboxone is taken. If a full opioid is taken within 24 hours of Suboxone, then the patient will quickly discover that the full opioid is not working – they will not get high and will not get pain relief (if pain was the reason it was taken). This 24-hour reprieve gives the patient time to reconsider the wisdom of relapsing with a problem opioid while undergoing medication-assisted treatment.
Because it is long-acting (24 hours or more) Suboxone only needs to be taken one time per day. It should be allowed to completely dissolve under the tongue. It comes in both a 2 mg and 8 mg tablet, and a 2 mg or 8 mg filmstrip. The convenience of taking this medication, as well as its high success rate, plays a big part of why many people are considering Suboxone a preferred treatment for opioid addiction.