The word opioid is almost synonymous with addiction. The drugs’ inherent addictiveness has caused thousands of individuals to fall prey to its potent effects and cause even the most unlikely to develop dependency issues and subsequent addiction. Opioids such as oxycodone, Percocet, and hydrocodone are generally prescribed for individuals who are struggling with pain management after extreme cases like surgery, chemotherapy or following a car accident.

Many patients who are prescribed an opioid-based medication have a higher likelihood of building up a tolerance and may have difficulty stopping use. For many years, opioid addiction treatment consisted of basic detoxification and rehabilitation at a clinic, residential center, or private practice. In 2002, a breakthrough for opioid treatment was accepted and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) –Buprenorphine. This powerful component of treatment was designed as a new take on medically assisted treatment (MAT) that would forever change the way that substance abuse is managed. Buprenorphine treatment for opioid addiction was introduced as a safe effective way for patients in recovery from substance abuse.

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What is buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is an opioid itself, though it is partial, that is used to treat individuals who are struggling with chronic pain, acute pain, and substance abuse of opioids and is thus known as an anti-opioid or opioid antagonist. It is important to note that Buprenorphine is not a stand-alone treatment and should be administered only while an individual is participating in a therapeutic program and receiving support in a healthy environment.

How long does buprenorphine block opiates?

In most cases, the anti-opioid will work to block all effects for 24 hours minimum, opioid antagonists such as Suboxone have been known to have lasting effects that can continue for up to 72 hours in total.

However, this can be dependant on variables such as:

  • Rate of metabolic processing
  • Weight of the individual
  • The longevity of prior opioid use
  • If a full opioid has been consumed within 24 hours of a dose of Buprenorphine, the effects of the antagonist will be limited if not completely non-existent.

Buprenorphine Medication List

Buprenorphine medication essentially refers to the “generic” name that this drug is sold typically under different brands, all of which have the same purpose and virtually identical results. The following buprenorphine medication list represents the various buprenorphine products that are available for medically assisted treatment at this time:

  • Bunavail is an opioid antagonist that is a hybrid between Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Like its counterparts, Bunavail works to reduce cravings in a person in recovery and is used as part of a full treatment program. Its primary form of administration is oral via a sublingual film that dissolves inside of the patient’s cheek.
  • Buprenex is another form of anti-opioid agent that is composed of Buprenorphine, hydrochloric acid, and water for ease of use for its only route of administration which is via intravenous injection. Because of its form of administration Buprenex is only used within the walls of a licensed medical center or inpatient practice.
  • Butrans is a transdermal patch that is placed on the skin and slowly absorbs into the patient’s system. Butrans has an extended-release and is meant to be used for 7 days in total for each patch. Five strength levels are available and the level of potency will be determined by the doctor in charge of the case.
  • Probuphine is one of the newer forms of opioid treatment and was the first Buprenorphine probuphine implant that was approved for use by the FDA exclusively for its anti-opioid properties. Buprenorphine implant for opioid addiction also possesses an extended-release time that lasts for up to 6 months and is ideal for patients who are enrolled in longer treatment programs.
  • Subutex is the classic form of Buprenorphine, it appears in the form of a tablet for ease of daily use. Subutex is provided at two different levels of strength 2 milligrams and 8 milligrams.
  • Suboxone, similar to its counterparts, Suboxone consists of two ingredients Buprenorphine and Naloxone and can be administered via sublingual film or by tablet form.
  • Zubsolv possesses an identical ingredient list as Suboxone. Zubsolv is administered as a disintegrating tablet that appears triangular and has 6 levels of strength available for treatment.

How Does Buprenorphine Work?

Buprenorphine is an active partial opioid that is ingested to assist in the treatment of opioid-dependent and further abuse.

Let’s take a look at Buprenorphine and how it works:

The antagonist works to manipulate the brain by attaching itself to the brain’s receptors, without inducing effects of intense pleasure, happiness, and reduced pain levels. While these receptors remain attached, the brain believes it is still content and therefore, the need and desire for full opioids are reduced until there is no craving or desire for the person in recovery to consume more opioids in the future. In short, this answers the question, “how does buprenorphine work?”

The three primary goals of Buprenorphine are:

  • Significant craving reduction
  • Reduce the physical effects of opioids that can manifest during withdrawal, cravings, and urges
  • In the event of an overdose, the event of respiratory failure and other painful side effects will be reduced.

How long does buprenorphine work?

The effects of buprenorphine are had at work for a minimum of 24 hours in most patients. However, variables such as the history of use, age, and method of administration can have an impact on the lasting effect of the opioid-antagonist.

Induction Phase

This is the initial stage of medically assisted treatment (MAT) via buprenorphine.

Buprenorphine induction therapy is conducted under the care of a doctor in a clinical setting whether in a hospital or residential treatment center- the first administration is never taken at home regardless of whether the enrolled program is outpatient or inpatient care. The forms of administration for the buprenorphine induction phase may be intravenous, or oral ingestion of antagonist. During this phase, the patient must have abstained from any usage of opioids for a minimum of 12 hours, but an ideal 24 to avoid any onset of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or side effects that can compromise the treatment if consumed to close together. The transition from opioid use to continuation generally lasts 3 to 7 days.