How Is Buprenorphine Used During Drug Detox?

Medically assisted detox and rehab is a recognised and highly effective form of treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Most medications that are used for treating addiction can only be administered by a medical professional because, while they are less addictive than street drugs, they can still be highly addictive and need to be strictly controlled and regulated.

This means that medically assisted detox is usually only possible as an inpatient in a residential rehab facility. Buprenorphine, however, is the exception.


An explanation of what Buprenorphine is

Buprenorphine comes in the form of a tablet that is usually placed under the tongue until it dissolves. It is used to treat opioid addiction because, unlike most other methods of treating an addiction to opioids, buprenorphine can be self-administered at home.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist that can be used to reduce pain and increase feelings of wellbeing. Opioid antagonists are drugs that block mu, kappa, or delta-opioid receptors and hinder the effects of externally administered opioids like morphine, fentanyl or heroin or internally released endorphins.

This means that buprenorphine can give you similar side effects to opioid-based street drugs, but it does not produce the extreme and thrilling highs typically associated with drug-taking and is a good substitute drug for treating withdrawal from opioids.

When used as part of a medically assisted detox and rehab program, buprenorphine suppresses the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms typically associated with detox and reduces cravings, increasing the addict’s chances of a sustainable recovery.

Since it has a significantly reduce risk for abuse and addiction, buprenorphine is the ideal drug to prescribe to addicts who are part of an outpatient heroin, prescription painkiller or illegal opioids detox programme.

Buprenorphine is typically taken once a day. After you have taken a tablet it usually takes 30 minutes for the effects to be felt and then the medication remains effective for about 24 hours. If you are taking buprenorphine as part of a drug addiction programme, most doctors will advise you to take your tablet at the same time every day to get maximum relief from withdrawal symptoms.

Buprenorphine reacts with the body in a similar way to other opioid drugs but at lower levels and can be prescribed as part of an outpatient drug addiction treatment program but that does not mean that it is not at all addictive. The abuse of any medication can potentially lead to addiction, and buprenorphine is no different, and therefore it should only ever be used as prescribed by a medical professional.


The development of Buprenorphine

Very few drugs are specifically created to treat drug addiction and the original purpose of buprenorphine was that it could be used as a painkiller. The development of a new drug is a long and complex process and does not happen overnight, but many new drugs do have unforeseen benefits.

In the 1950s, pharmacists working for Reckitt & Coleman began work on producing a synthetic opioid drug that would produce the same degree of pain relief but without the addictive and disagreeable side effects.

The compound RX6029 showed the most promise when used on lab animals and eventually, human trials were carried out in the 1970s and buprenorphine was released in 1978 and prescribed for the treatment of severe pain. It was only in 2002 that buprenorphine was given final approval to be used as a recognised method for treating an addiction to opioids. Buprenorphine is now sold under the brand names Probuphine, Subutex, Suboxone, Cizdol, Temgesic, Buprenex, Norspan and Butrans.

Numerous studies have been conducted regarding the effectiveness and success rates of buprenorphine as a treatment for addicts who are addicted to opioids. In Britain, researchers from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink compared methadone and buprenorphine-related deaths between 2007 and 2012 and found that there were 2,366 deaths attributed to methadone and 52 deaths attributed to buprenorphine. But research has also shown that methadone is still the preferred treatment option for opioid addiction because of buprenorphine’s weaker mu activity in clinical trials.


Side Effects of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine may be less addictive than many other medications used in medically assisted detox but, like all drugs, it does have side effects, and these can include;

  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping problems and insomnia
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Back pain
  • Compromised vision
  • Fever or chills
  • Headaches

If you abruptly stop taking buprenorphine you will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms and therefore doctors recommend that you do not go cold turkey and rather taper off buprenorphine over a medically determined number of days.

Drug addiction is a life-altering and potentially fatal disease. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available to addicts that can help them regain control of their lives. Contact Rehab Clinics Group to find out more about medically assisted detox with buprenorphine.


What is medically assisted detox?

Overcoming opioid addiction is extremely difficult but there are various treatment options that have proved to be highly effective. One of the reasons that it is so difficult to overcome an opioid addiction is that the body becomes physically addicted to opiates and when your drug of choice is no longer available you will suffer from intense cravings and debilitating withdrawal symptoms.

To counteract these cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and make the detox process easier, many rehab facilities and doctors will recommend medically assisted detox. All prescription medications that are used during medically assisted detox are approved and regulated and are most effective when administered in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy, addiction support groups, and counselling.

Medically assisted detox does not work for all types of addiction and is only prescribed if the medication has been approved for the specific addiction that you suffer from. Fortunately, there are several medications that have proven effective for the treatment of alcohol and opioid addiction.

The type of medication that you could be prescribed during rehab will depend on the characteristics of your addiction; the frequency of drug use, the type of drugs you use, the length of time you have been using and the severity of your addiction.

When you enter rehab, a medical professional will assess your situation taking into account your general health, age, and any underlying physical or mental health problems before deciding on a treatment plan.

Medically assisted detox is often used to treat co-occurring disorders like mental health problems. People suffering from anxiety and depression will be prescribed medication to treat the symptoms of these co-occurring disorders during the detox and rehab process.