The United States is in the midst of an opioid and heroin abuse epidemic and drug overdoses now exceed the risk of dying from a traffic accident. Most of us know someone who is affected by this, yet only approximately fifteen percent of patients with an addiction to heroin or opioids are in treatment at this time (This is a surprising fact, given that today’s medical interventions are superior to counseling alone and have been available since Buprenorphine was approved for outpatient treatment in 2003). Buprenorphine is now being used as an alternative to methadone and is formulated in several ways, including Suboxone. It represents the latest advance in medication-assisted treatment and allows a holistic approach to the treatment of opioid dependency.
Why does Buprenorphine have so many names?
The following all contain buprenorphine, but each offer additional benefits and all are not prescribed by every doctor:
- Suboxone (buprenorphone and naloxone ) sublingual film
- Zubsoly (buprenorphine and naloxone) sublingual tablets
- Bunavail (buprenorphine ad naloxone) buccal film
- Probuphine (buprenorphine) implant
- Butrans (buprenorphine) extended release patch
- Buprenex (buprenorphine) injection
Your doctor will prescribe the correct medication for you.
How can buprenorphine help me in recovery?
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, buprenorphine is an effective component of a treatment program when combined with counseling and may:
- Help you stay physically comfortable while you’re in the early stages of withdrawal
- Block your craving for opioids
- Minimize your chances of having a relapse
- Help you gradually and safely reduce your dependence on opioids
I have chronic pain. Will this help my pain?
Because buprenorphine works by blocking pain receptors, this can actually help you while alleviating the need to take stronger, addictive opioid medications.
Buprenorphine was originally used as a pain medication.
What if my doctor says that I need pain medication after surgery?
You will still be able to be treated for pain with elective dental or surgical procedures. Your doctors will need to formulate plan together and you will be instructed to taper and stop the buprenorphine accordingly.
What if I need to go to the Emergency Room?
In case of an emergency, it is vital that you keep your doctor’s name and phone number on a list, along with the names and dosages of medications you are on, and print this brochure: www.naabt.org/documents/pcssbrochure.pdf
Give it to the doctor treating you. Many doctors are still not familiar enough with buprenorphine treatment, or how to treat patients with pain who take it.
The brochure also has a 24-hour buprenorphine expert staffed hotline number if your doctor is not available. This is essential to avoid unnecessarily UNDERTREATING your pain (See more helpful links in the MORE INFORMATION section where this information will be repeated).