Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid that is most commonly used to treat people withdrawing from opioids. In lower doses, buprenorphine may be used as a painkiller. Buprenorphine is a partially activating opioid with high binding potential. This means that it does not bind to all of the opioid receptors in the brain, which results in a lack of common opioid side effects. Although the user may experience mild euphoria and pain tolerance, it is minimal in comparison with full-binding opioids such as heroin or morphine. Someone who is taking buprenorphine may not be able to achieve a high off of other opioids, as it blocks binding receptors.
Suboxone and Subutex
The two most common forms of buprenorphine in the United States are sublingual tablets marketed as Subutex and Suboxone. Buprenorphine is the sole active ingredient in Subutex. However, Suboxone also contains Naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, added to discourage abuse of the drug. Taking more Suboxone than prescribed or using it intravenously may result in rapid opioid detox. The high dose of naloxone antagonizes the opioid receptors and evicts all opioids from the body. Some doctors prescribe these drugs for short-term use during the withdrawal period. Other doctors prescribe Buprenorphine as a long-term treatment that can last months or even years.
Side Effects of Buprenorphine
Buprenorphine has become the leading choice for addiction therapy, as its effects are relatively mild. However, many users report going through serious withdrawal symptoms upon cessation of buprenorphine. Similar to other opioids, the user may experience nausea, sweating, muscle weakness, and irritability. However, the strong majority of users who experienced the withdrawal symptoms still recommend its use, as the effects are generally far less severe. Short-term side effects include sweating, constipation, and dry mouth.
The long-term effects of buprenorphine have not been studied extensively due to their short time on the market. However, experts suggest that they may be similar to those of other opioids. Upon cessation, some long-term effects of buprenorphine may persist. Depression, fatigue, and insomnia are the three most commonly reported symptoms. Some people experience nausea, confusion, and physical weakness. Studies are continually conducted to determine the long-term effects of buprenorphine and in time conclusive evidence will be attained.