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.