What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist that blocks the effects of other narcotics and reduces risk of withdrawal and relapse. Buprenorphine is approved by the FDA as a safe and effective treatment for OUD, and it can be administered through a dissolving tablet, film, monthly injection, or implant. Buprenorphine has some risk of misuse, but this is reduced when the medication is combined with naloxone, which can dampen the euphoric effect if buprenorphine is taken incorrectly or misused.  Unlike methadone, buprenorphine can be prescribed in medical offices, thus buprenorphine offers an increased level of convenience and accessibility. However, the reduction in structure when compared to the MMT program may present as a disadvantage for some clients. Additional structure and support can be added through IOP and other comprehensive treatment programs offered at Root Center.

Types of Buprenorphine

The FDA has approved several Buprenorphine products to aid in the treatment of OUD. Some types of buprenorphine may be prescribed to women with OUD who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Methadone and buprenorphine are the primary MATs currently used for expectant and new mothers. Buprenorphine products on the market include:

Buprenorphine products on the market include:

  • Bunavail (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) film
  • Zubsolv (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual tablets
  • Buprenorphine-naloxone generic sublingual film and tablet forms
  • Subutex (buprenorphine) sublingual tablets
  • Sublocade (buprenorphine monthly long acting injection)
  • Probuphine (buprenorphine implant)

What to expect when starting a buprenorphine regimen

Clients starting a buprenorphine treatment regimen will need to complete a comprehensive clinical assessment with a licensed prescriber to explore options and determine the best course of treatment for that individual client. The client will also undergo a comprehensive clinical assessment by a masters-level counselor to determine if additional services and support functions are indicated.

When starting buprenorphine for the first time, an induction period must be completed under medical supervision to ensure that there are no adverse reactions to the medication. Clients must complete a full detoxification from opioids and other medications prior to starting a buprenorphine regimen. If you need to complete a detoxification period prior to starting buprenorphine, Root Center’s caring and compassionate staff will work with you to develop a plan.

As with all medications in MAT programs, buprenorphine is used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes group therapy, individual therapy, and a focus on developing a solid social support network. Each client using buprenorphine will work closely with their counselor and prescriber to monitor cravings and side effects and ensure proper dosing.

Compliance with dosing is essential. Buprenorphine should never be shared or acquired from an unofficial source. Other drugs, alcohol, or unapproved medications should never be taken during a buprenorphine regimen. Buprenorphine may be a safe option for pregnant women with OUD. Please consult with your physician to discuss treatment options and find the best plan for you.

Clients who are interested in switching from methadone to buprenorphine should consult with their counselor and prescriber to discuss the best way to approach the process. When discontinuing or reducing buprenorphine dosage, close consultation and collaboration with the prescriber is essential to ensure a smooth and gradual transition and minimize withdrawals and adverse side effects. This is critical in preventing relapse during transition periods.

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