Buprenorphine Addiction and Abuse
Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic, potent opioid created from the alkaloid of the poppy seed. When given in pain-relieving doses, it is anywhere from 20 to 50 times more potent than morphine. While it can be used to treat both acute and ongoing pain, it is often used for treating opioid addictions. When an addict is addicted to another opiate such as oxycodone or heroin, Buprenorphine can be used to help lessen the withdrawal symptoms as the individual comes off the other drug. However, because Buprenorphine also falls under the opioid category, Buprenorphine addiction and abuse can occur.
Doctors often prescribe Buprenorphine to their patients under the names Suboxone, Subutex, Butrans and Buprenex. The drug is used because of its ability to lessen cravings, and also decrease the side effects and withdrawal symptoms of other opioids in the body.
How Does Buprenorphine work in the Body?
Buprenorphine is an interesting drug when it works in the body. For starters, it has the ability to act as both an opioid agonist and opioid antagonist. Opioid agonists cause an opioid effect in the body – these are drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, heroin, etc. Opioid antagonists block and reverse the effects of opioid agonist drugs.
When an addict who is trying to come off of an opioid agonist takes Buprenorphine, the drug attaches to opioid receptors in the brain but only partly activates them. This partial activation causes a decrease in cravings and withdrawal side effects, without producing the full euphoric high. It will also block other opioids. So if an addict decides to use a drug such as heroin or oxycodone while on Buprenorphine, any effects of those drugs will be blocked.
Common Street Names of Buprenorphine
Buprenorphine abuse does occur and there are individuals who seek to purchase the drug off the street. Common street names include: Bupe, Sub, Subs, Subbies, and Orange Guys.
Research indicates many people are getting their hands on Buprenorphine off the street or through other channels for non-medical usage. In fact, a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimated over 15,000 hospitalizations in 2010 were for the misuse and non-medical use of Buprenorphine. There were a total of 30,135 emergency room visits that year because of the drug’s involvement, a sharp increase from 3,161 visits in 2005, highlighting the rise in Buprenorphine addiction.
Drug Classification of Buprenorphine
Buprenorphine has been classified as a partial opioid agonist and Scheduled III narcotic. Created in the 1980s under the name Buprenex, the drug was approved by the FDA in 2002 as a treatment for opioid addiction.
History and Trends in Buprenorphine Addiction and Abuse
For over ten years, Buprenorphine has been widely used as a treatment for opiate addiction. ARCOS data from the Drug Enforcement Administration keeps watch on the usage and increase in usage of the drug. In 2006, 40 million dosage units of Buprenorphine were distributed, with this number spiking to 190 million dosage units in 2010. In addition, as per reports from 2012, almost 4 million patients have already been treated with the Suboxone brand of Buprenorphine.
Side Effects of Buprenorphine Addiction and Abuse
Side effects that can occur with Buprenorphine include:
- Pain relief
Buprenorphine Addiction and Abuse Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms can also occur when someone is dealing with Buprenorphine addiction. If you or someone you love is using the drug and dealing with Buprenorphine abuse issues, the following may occur:
- Obsessive thoughts and behavior regarding getting more of the drug
- Using the drug for longer than prescribed or at higher doses, despite negative consequences
- Powerful cravings for more of the drug
- Purchasing Buprenorphine illegally or on the street
- Doctor shopping in order to get more prescriptions for the drug
Signs of Buprenorphine Overdose
Typically, you will not hear about Buprenorphine overdose cases as often as you hear about them regarding drugs such as heroin or oxycodone, but overdose can still occur. Signs and symptoms you will want to look out for include:
- Cold, clammy skin
- Slow breathing
- Low blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
Treatment for Buprenorphine Addiction and Abuse
If you or someone you love is struggling with Buprenorphine addiction, help is available. While the drug is typically administered through physicians on an outpatient basis to help addicts get off other opioids, treatment for Buprenorphine addiction is best administered on an inpatient basis. While in a detox and rehab setting, medicine can be provided and psychotherapy and counseling sessions can occur in order to help you or your loved one determine the root cause of his or her Buprenorphine addiction and abuse.
Treatment for Buprenorphine addiction and abuse can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days on an inpatient basis, with some individuals residing in the rehab for more than a year if necessary. Buprenorphine abuse is a serious issue, and addiction and fatal overdose can occur. While withdrawal from opioids can cause side effects, being in a medically supervised detox program offers you the safest and best chance of getting off the drug.
Once you have completed the detox from Buprenorphine addiction, you can work with rehabilitation staff in making a specialized therapy and treatment program that will focus on your specific needs. This may include group and one-on-one counseling, alternative therapies, fitness and nutrition, support group attendance and more.
You can live your life free from Buprenorphine abuse. To learn more about which treatments from Buprenorphine addiction may work for you, visit White Sands Tampa or call us immediately at 1-877-640-7820.
1. National Pain Report: http://nationalpainreport.com/sharp-rise-in-suboxone-emergency-room-visits-8818470.html