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Buprenorphine is able to suppress the debilitating symptoms caused by opioid withdrawal. It also suppresses the intense cravings experienced after abruptly quitting a drug. This makes the addiction treatment process much more bearable—as it is generally known to be a challenging endeavor.
Buprenorphine helps patients properly engage in therapy, counseling, and support. This allows them to implement positive lifestyle changes, slowly yet surely. This medication therefore improves the patient’s chances of making long-lasting changes and leaving their addictive behavior behind.
Medications like Subutex and Suboxone use buprenorphine as their main active ingredient, and they all function similarly: making withdrawal symptoms more manageable to help patients achieve sustained addiction remission.
On this article, we will discuss buprenorphine: what it is, and how it works in the brain.
Buprenorphine is a prescription medication derived from thebaine, which is an alkaloid of the poppy Papaver somniferum. At low doses, it produces enough agonist effects to enable drug addicted people to discontinue the misuse of opioids.
Interestingly, buprenorphine itself is an opioid. Opioids are synthetic and semi-synthetic substances derived from the opium poppy plant, unlike opiates which are natural derivatives. Both opiates and opioids are called narcotics.
In law enforcement, narcotics may refer to any mind-altering substance, regardless of whether it’s an opiate or not.
How Does It Work?
Just like other opioids, buprenorphine attaches to receptors in the brain known as “opioid receptors”. This creates three main effects: reduced respiration, decreased pain, and euphoria. We can say that the process of opioids binding to the opioid receptors is a mechanical union.
What sets buprenorphine apart from other opioids is that it does not fully bind to the opioid receptors. It’s not a perfect fit. Therefore, it produces less opioid effects. At the same time, it occupies the same receptors without producing strong feelings of euphoria. This leads to a much lower risk of addiction. It also has a lower risk of respiratory depression.
If a person tries taking heroin or painkillers, they are unlikely to experience any additional effects. They won’t get high on these substances, because the receptors already contain buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine can be described as “sticky” because they tend to stay with the receptors much longer than other opioids. It can block the effects of opioids for up to 3 days.
Does It Get You High?
As helpful as this drug may be, it can still be abused. Yes, there’s a much lower chance that you’ll get high on this drug, but persistent drug users may attempt to take excessive doses. And yes, you can get high on this substance. It still is an opioid after all. And it still induces mild euphoria.
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You can even get addicted to this drug.
That may come as a surprise, knowing that the drug is intended to help stop people from getting high. But some people do abuse this medication, and some people do develop addiction, or even physical dependence.
Still, misusing this drug can lead to the same effects you are trying to avoid. Make sure you use this as intended. Buprenorphine is often taken as a part of a comprehensive drug treatment program anyway, so you are likely safe.
Get started on the path towards sobriety today. Look for an addiction treatment facility near you!