About Buprenorphine Dependence

There is the potential for dependence to buprenorphine when individuals become comfortable and/or complacent regarding treatment for their addiction. Buprenorphine will maintain some of a patient’s existing physical dependence to opioids, but that is manageable and CAN be resolved with a gradual taper and evidenced-based rehabilitation practices — the next step in your journey!

Amazingly, despite 100% of people being treated for addiction with buprenorphine have demonstrated that they have a greater vulnerability to opioid addiction than the average person, very few individuals become addicted to the buprenorphine. This means that very few lose control of their medication intake or experience uncontrollable compulsions and cravings toward the buprenorphine.

However, individuals can still become dependent. The brain has a natural reward system that helps us to learn that things that cause pleasure are good and should be repeated. These habits or rituals initiate a biochemical sequence and release dopamine in the brain. This feels good and is reinforced when repeated.

Buprenorphine should be used to get you off your opiate drug of choice. It’s meant for detox and possibly maintenance — NOT for years of use. That’s why patients and families are asking for help to get off this medication. This is a good medication, but despite its merits it IS an opiate! Buprenorphine therapy is rapidly becoming the gold standard for treating opiate addiction. The main problem we see is that the typical buprenorphine therapy plan prescribed in the professional medical community is a ‘one-sized-fits all’ method for treating all patients. Everyone is a little different and therefore treating everyone exactly the same way is not appropriate. Buprenorphine is an opiate and that’s why it is called opiate replacement therapy. So when we stop the buprenorphine our long-term chances for staying clean are so much increased IF we are also involved in a quality, evidenced-based program that teaches skills and provide a foundational approach which is effective, comprehensive and geared to long-term success. This is what Dr. Avart at My Addiction Physician™ can offer you.

Buprenorphine Facts & Statistics

The most common reason that buprenorphine is prescribed in opiate addiction treatment is that the abuser can cope with the withdrawal symptoms more comfortably. This is also a drug that can result in addiction, which is why close physician care is so important while taking it. Many people experience withdrawal when they stop taking this medication, which can lead back to taking more opiates or heroin. Buprenorphine is meant to be taken for an extended amount of time — usually 6 months — with a gradual decrease in dosage until the user is clean and able to function normally.

Some quick facts about Buprenorphine:

  • Tablets of buprenorphine take anywhere from 2-10 minutes to dissolve under the tongue.
  • This is an addictive drug that can result in withdrawal symptoms just from decreasing dosage.
  • May cause constipation.
  • Can cause liver problems.
  • Can cause swelling as a result of an allergic reaction.
  • It should not be injected into the body.

The side effects that individuals experience when taking buprenorphine will depend on their body, medical history, dosage amounts and many other factors. Anyone who experiences severe side effects should go see their doctor right away. Taking more of this medication to help relieve side effects can result in developing an addiction (loss of control and continued used to despite harm) and buprenorphine poisoning.

How Buprenorphine Affects the Body and Brain

Buprenorphine works by giving the brain the opioid stimulation it craves, but does so in a gentler and safer manner then does heroin or a prescription pain medication. When buprenorphine works, it does so by meeting the opioid cravings — NOT by making the brain not want the opioid. This is partially why many people on agents such as buprenorphine still abuse heroin or prescription pain medications on the side, either chronically or intermittently.

Signs & Symptoms of Buprenorphine Dependence

Buprenorphine detox typically takes longer than detox from other opiates would because it is clinically engineered to remain in your opiate receptors in order to block other opiates from having any effect. Buprenorphine has become a medication for detox from opiate addictions. Depression and insomnia are the two most common symptoms in buprenorphine detoxification. Not only are these conditions uncomfortable, but they can extend the detox period. Here at My Addiction Physician we help you to minimize the side effects and see to it that your detox is as smooth and painless is possible.

Are you buprenorphine dependent? Here's what you should do.

The first step towards freedom from dependence starts with cleansing your body of harmful toxins. Whether you have been using buprenorphine for several months or several years, medical drug detoxification is necessary to remove the remaining drug from your system and to avoid the discomforts of withdrawal. At My Addiction Physician our drug detox program is safe and comfortable, and also wedded to rehabilitation & behavioral medicine practices. We are focused on your INDEPENDENCE, which is your ability to self-direct and perform your life. Be sure to Watch our patient videos here on the site. These are individuals who have been in your shoes, validating or unique process of helping patients to recover from opiate addiction.


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