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We often hear about buprenorphine as a main ingredient in other drugs. It’s one of the active ingredients in suboxone, for example. But what exactly is buprenorphine? What does it do? What are its effects? Understanding these substances can help us in our fight against drug abuse.
Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from thebaine, which is an alkaloid of the poppy Papaver somniferum. At low doses, this drug produces sufficient agonist effects to enable drug addicted individuals to discontinue the misuse of opioids.
This substance creates a ceiling effect that prevents drug abuse from escalating any further. In fact, buprenorphine can actually block the effects of full opioid agonists.
It was in 2002 that the Food and Drug Administration or FDA approved buprenorphine for the treatment of opiate addiction and dependence.
Just like other opioids, buprenorphine is a synthetic substance that is derived from the opium poppy plant. This sets it aside from opiates, which are naturally derived from the same type of plant. It is therefore considered a narcotic, in the medical sense of the word.
In the legal system, all mind-altering drugs are considered narcotics, even if they are not technically classified as opiates or opioids.
What is it for?
This substance is an opioid medication that is used to treat opioid addiction. That may sound ironic to those of you who are not familiar with the process of addiction treatment. How can an opioid fix an opioid addiction?
Buprenorphine is used during opioid replacement therapy. It is naturally less potent compared with other opioid substances, so an addicted individual can use it to lessen the impact of withdrawal. They won’t experience severe withdrawal symptoms (which are sometimes life threatening) because buprenorphine can trick the brain into thinking it has already taken opioids.
Buprenorphine has a much lower risk of being abused and creating a habit forming effect. This means those who are dependent on opioid medications can gradually lower their intake without abruptly quitting drugs.
This process of opioid replacement therapy is often done in the privacy of a physician’s office. It may also be done as a part of an intensive drug rehab program. It may be used during inpatient treatment, in which the patient stays in a drug rehab facility to receive medical detox.
But unlike other medications that are used strictly for addiction treatment, buprenorphine can be dispensed for take home use. It is available via prescription from a licensed physician.
Buprenorphine is also different from other opioids because it is a partial opioid agonist. It produces less euphoric effects. It has a lower chance of developing physical dependence. It has a lower potential for misuse. And if used properly, it may suppress the symptoms of opioid withdrawal.
Because of its safety profile, it’s an efficient tool that is often used for treatment of patients addicted to opioids.
If you know someone who is struggling with addiction, you have to keep in mind that pursuing sobriety is still an option. It may be a difficult process, but know that it is possible to become free from the effects of addiction. Look for a drug rehab facility near you today to find out more.