For Patients

Healing After Heroin: Does the Buprenorphine Patch Really Work?

buprenorphine patch
Written by newadmin

Do you need help in the battle against heroin addiction for you or a loved one?

Experts estimate that over 130 people die each day in the United States from an opioid overdose. Fortunately, arming yourself with a buprenorphine patch may keep you safe from joining this statistic.

Keep reading to learn how this patch can help you kick your heroin addiction.

Using a Buprenorphine Patch for Heroin Addiction

Medication-assisted opioid treatment may help you take your life back from addiction. Read on to learn about buprenorphine and how it can help you kick heroin to the curb.

What Is a Buprenorphine Transdermal Patch?

Buprenorphine, also called Butrans, is an opioid (narcotic) analgesic. This means that the medication works on the central nervous system to change the way the body experiences pain signals.

The patch attaches directly to the body and slowly distributes pain medication through the skin over the course of about 7 days. After removing the patch, this medication will remain in your system for anywhere between 55 and 132 hours.

Doctors often prescribe this medication for chronic pain from arthritis or injuries. It can also help treat opioid addictions.

How Does Butrans Treat Opioid Addiction?

It may seem counterintuitive to treat heroin addiction with another opioid. However, it works differently than more highly addictive opioids, like heroin.

Pharmacologists consider this drug a partial opioid agonist. This means it binds to the same receptors as drugs like heroin. But it only produces a partial reaction.

This means the drug will provide relief from the heroin cravings. Addiction changes the brain and body chemistry, making the person dependent on the drug to even feel normal.

The patch allows them to taper the drug, as they need less and less stimulation to function normally. Without relief from the intense cravings, many people relapse.

This medical patch can also help them through detox. Heroin detoxification causes symptoms, including fatigue, pain, and flu-like sickness. Buprenorphine lessens these effects and treats the pain caused by depriving the body of heroin.

Does Buprenorphine Make You High?

Critics argue that using the buprenorphine patch simply replaces one high for another. However, it does not do that exactly.

As stated above, addicts need a certain amount of the drug to even feel normal. This medication only stimulates the receptor enough to give them that feeling of normalcy. It is not, however, enough to get them high.

In fact, this medication blocks the effect of other opioids. This makes relapse much less likely in a recovering heroin addict, as they will not receive the desired side effects from the drug while taking this medication.

Side Effects

Unfortunately, most medications come with unwanted side effects. On the bright side, Butrans generally creates fewer side effects than alternative opioid treatments.

Side effects of this medication include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • constipation
  • dry mouth
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • headache
  • localized irritation
  • snoring
  • slowed heart rate
  • confusion

Patients will not feel the same euphoric feeling as most other opioids create, which makes this less addictive.

Is It FDA Approved?

The United States government classifies this medication as a schedule III drug. This means that the drug carries low to moderate potential for abuse. However, it also contains benefits for prescribing it that outweigh the potential risks.

In 2018, the FDA approved buprenorphine for medication-assisted opioid treatment. They decided that the crisis urgently required more methods to help treat opioid addiction, due to the high number of deaths the addiction causes.

Can You Overdose on Butrans?

If a person took too much, they could potentially overdose, as with anything else.

However, unlike heroin and other narcotic drugs, this drug has a ceiling on the opioid effects. This means that taking more of the medication will not produce any greater of a high. This makes it highly unlikely for a recovering addict to overdose on the buprenorphine patch.

What Will Help You Stay Sober During Butrans Treatment?

Heroin addiction treatment requires a real effort to stay sober from the recovering addict. Though buprenorphine treatment will help them stay on the road to recovery, it will not magically heal them.

To stay sober while using the patch:

Use as Directed

Whether prescribed during inpatient or outpatient treatment, you should use this patch exactly as directed to receive the full benefits. Not taking it as directed may not keep enough of the medication in your system for it to work properly.

Taking more than directed will not make you high, and may increase the unpleasant side effects. Plus, it is extremely important to change your mindset with medication, using it only for the intended purpose, if you want to succeed at recovery.

Follow the Rules

Treatment programs typically provide a hefty set of rules for you. They do so to protect you and allow you more freedoms as you become ready for them.

Do not think that the patch turns you invincible. Your effort and mindset will do more for you than any medication. Following the rules will enable Butrans to help you through.

Let the Medication Work

If you decide that nothing can help you, then nothing will. Allow this medication to work by giving it a real shot.

When people believe that medicine will not work, they subconsciously fight the effects. Understand both the limitations and the benefits of the drug so you can proceed with realistic expectations.

Surround Yourself with a Support System

Medication can only do so much for you. It works in conjunction with other therapies and tools but does not save you on its own. A healthy network will provide you support that will help you sustain your sobriety.

Leave behind the people who do not want to change. Love them from a distance, but do not allow them to weigh down your recovery success.

Instead, surround yourself with healthy-minded people who want to grow with you and help you succeed. Choose people who support your sobriety and do not tempt you to cheat the system.

Seek Treatment Today

Beating heroin addiction is no small feat. It requires serious determination and often outside help from rehabilitation centers.

Ask your doctor if the buprenorphine patch can help you. Learn more about opioid addiction on our website.

About the author


Leave a Comment

Have an addiction specialist help you.
Find the treatment you deserve!