What is an addiction specialist?

As defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “an Addiction Specialist is a physician certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine who has demonstrated by education, experience, and examination, the requisite knowledge and skills to provide screening, intervention, and treatment for substance use and addiction. The addiction medicine physician provides medical care within the bio-psycho-social framework for persons with addiction, for the individual with substance-related health conditions, for persons who manifest unhealthy substance use, and for family members whose health and functioning are affected another’s substance use or addiction. Board-certified addiction medicine physicians are also board-certified in another medical specialty, prior to meeting requirements for board certification by the American Board of Addiction Medicine (ABAM)”.

Will I become addicted to buprenorphine?

Many patients worry that taking buprenorphine is trading one addiction for another. With successful buprenorphine treatment, however, the compulsive behavior, the loss of control of drug use, the constant cravings and all the other hallmarks of addiction stop including spending time and money obtaining drugs.

What are the common side effects of treatment?

Some patients experience mild headaches, constipation or dry mouth. These usually go away and are not bothersome. If you experience any unpleasant side effects, please let your treatment team know immediately.

How does it work?

Buprenorphine is an antagonist that blocks opioids by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain without fully activating them. They cause no effect and block full agonist opioids, like pain pills, heroin, and morphine. Since buprenorphine is also a partial agonist, it only slightly activates the opioid receptors in the brain, allowing for some opioid effect of its own, but only enough to suppress withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Since no opioids will work even if you take them while on buprenorphine (and even days later), it allows habits to change too.

Its very misleading to classify buprenorphine as “replacement therapy”, or even just an “opiate blocker”.  Source: naabt.org