There are more than 13 million opioid users in the world – and over 9 million of those use heroin.
Heroin is a highly addictive substance that causes severe withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are a major deterrent to getting off the drug. But addiction treatments such as buprenorphine can help.
But what is buprenorphine and what makes it different from other addiction treatments? More importantly, how can it help you or your loved one resolve their addiction?
We’ll tell you all that and more in this guide to buprenorphine. Keep reading for everything you need to know about buprenorphine for addicts.
What is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid. It’s made from an alkaloid known as thebaine and found in the poppy plant Papaver somniferum. It was first used to treat and relieve pain.
Buprenorphine is a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addictions. It’s a safe and effective way to help opioid-users reduce or quit their use of other, more risky, drugs. These include everything from heroin to opiates like morphine or prescription pain relievers.
Buprenorphine works by:
- decreasing cravings for other, more risky opioids
- blocking the effects that other opioids have
- suppressing withdrawal symptoms
Buprenorphine reduces the need for using other opioids. It helps patients stay in treatment, which is crucial to their success.
What Make Buprenorphine Different?
Because it’s an opioid, you’re likely wondering why buprenorphine is an addiction treatment. The answer is that it’s a partial agonist. This makes it different than opioids like heroin and pain relievers like morphine.
Buprenorphine is capable of producing the same effects of full agonist opioids. It also has the same dangerous side effects. The difference is that it does this to a much lesser degree.
It gives a sense of euphoria but with a much lower ceiling on those effects. That means there’s less potential for abuse. It also produces withdrawal symptoms that are much less severe.
In comparison to full opioid agonists, buprenorphine is much safer. It’s less likely to cause addiction and harm.
Taking Buprenorphine for Heroin
At the correct dosage, Buprenorphine curbs the withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin detox. In this way, users can stop misusing the illicit drug without severe withdrawal.
The ideal candidate for buprenorphine is someone physically dependent on an opioid. That includes heroin, morphine, oxycodone, and other full agonist opioids.
You should only get this type of treatment if you’re willing to follow safety precautions. Misusing or abusing buprenorphine can be dangerous. You should know all of your options and the precautions before using buprenorphine.
Your doctor should check that you don’t have any health conditions that conflict with treatment. You should undergo a thorough checkup before beginning to take buprenorphine for heroin or any other dependence.
Types of Buprenorphine for Addiction Treatment
The first buprenorphine treatments available were Subutex and Suboxone. These were approved in 2002 but have since been discontinued. They’re now available under the brand name Suboxone Film.
Suboxone generics can also be found. These were approved in 2013 and generally cost less than the brand names.
Other buprenorphine pharmacological treatments include sublingual tablets under the brand name Zubsolv. There is also a buccal film called Bunavail. Finally, Probuphine is an implant that’s placed under-the-skin for up to 6 months.
Is There Potential For Misuse?
Buprenorphine is an opioid that produces the same effects as an opioid. This fact alone gives it the potential for abuse.
To counter that, all buprenorphine treatments also contain a dosage of naloxone. This opiate antagonist should stop individuals from abusing buprenorphine. Particularly, it deters them from using the treatment intravenously.
But how does it do this?
If buprenorphine tablets are crushed and injected, the naloxone will take immediate effect. The naloxone causes opioid withdrawal. The discomfort caused by withdrawal should hinder addicts from abusing their treatment.
It’s important to note that taking buprenorphine for heroin and other opioids is not a treatment is an of itself. Buprenorphine can reduce craving and withdrawal symptoms. But it should be used in conjunction with counseling and therapies.
Other important therapies include behavioral therapy and other types of psychological treatment. These offer an opportunity to treat the underlying issues associated with addiction and are just as important as MAT.
Why Use Buprenorphine over Methadone?
Methadone carries less risk than heroin because it doesn’t require injection and it lasts for as long as 24 hours. Addicts only need to take it once a day, so it allows them to remain stable and free of withdrawal symptoms while making other positive changes.
One of the challenges of methadone is that it must be administered in a controlled setting and closely supervised by clinicians. But in 2000, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act made other pharmacological treatments like buprenorphine available to those struggling with addiction.
Now, qualified physicians can prescribe treatment that can be taken at home from their office as well as at community hospitals, correctional facilities, and at the health department. That means that access to treatment is significantly increased.
In addition, buprenorphine has less potential for abuse than methadone. Whereas methadone is a Schedule II substance, buprenorphine is only considered a Schedule III drug.
Get Help Today
So, what is buprenorphine? It’s a MAT for opioid addicts that curbs opiate withdrawal symptoms. Compared to full agonist opioids like heroin and oxycodone, it’s far less harmful, less addictive, and provides a real opportunity for addicts to get their life back on track.
If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin, buprenorphine for addiction treatment has promising results. Contact us today and find out more about your options.