Buprenorphine Maintenance and Facts

opiate withdrawal symptoms

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Buprenorphine is an opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction and helps people quit the use of heroin or other opiates. It satisfies the same part of the brain as pain pills/heroin do, but without the euphoric “high”of these drugs. Buprenorphine represents the latest advance in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and was approved for clinical use in October 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration1. Medications such as buprenorphine are typically combined with counseling and behavioral therapy sessions and provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of opioid dependency. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective.

Some Benefits to Buprenorphine Maintenance:

  • Low abuse potential
  • Helps those suffering from heroin dependence get through withdrawal with much less pain and suffering
  • More cost effective2 than other treatment options

How Does Buprenorphine Treatment Work?

1. Induction Phase3
The induction phase usually lasts for one week and is a good time to figure out what dosage works best for you. It is important to take your first dose when you are in the early stages of withdrawal. Following physician directions is crucial in order for the treatment to be successful.

2. Stabilization Phase
This phase usually lasts a month or so. The goal in this phase is to not feel withdrawal symptoms or cravings as well as feel more energized and motivated to do things without the dependence of opioids.

3. Maintenance Phase
During this phase, your dosage is the same at every visit since you and the physician have found the right amount that your body responds to. Depending on your progress, your dosage may be lowered or tapered off. These two are dependent on your goals, progress in treatment, or other medical concerns. It is very important that these decisions are made with the physician to reduce the risk of relapse or overdose. If you have used opioids for many years and you have quit and gone back to using many times, you may do best taking buprenorphine long term. This form of treatment helps you build a daily routine, especially with the help of counseling.The key is to not go back to using.

Using buprenorphine exactly as prescribed by your physician will reduce the risk of abusing the medication. Like other medication-assisted treatments, buprenorphine does not “cure” addiction and should only be used alongside a comprehensive treatment program.

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1https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine
2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11672491
3https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/9555/

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