Buprenorphine Abuse and Addiction

Chances are if you or a loved one is addicted to buprenorphine, you had an opiate addiction that you were trying to treat. The good news is that you can recover from buprenorphine addiction and end your dependence on opiates and other substances.

What Is Buprenorphine?

This drug is a semi-synthetic opiate that’s used to treat people suffering from pain, and also help people recover from opioid addictions. Heroin, oxycodone, and Vicodin are all opiates that buprenorphine is designed to treat under the brand names Suboxone or Subutex. It’s less likely to be abused than methadone, another opioid addiction treatment. But as you or a loved one has discovered, it’s still possible to become addicted to buprenorphine.

Subutex was developed first, but since the active ingredient is only buprenorphine, it is more likely to be abused. Suboxone contains both “buse” and naloxone, which triggers unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and is used as a deterrent to taking more opiates. Bunavail is similar to Suboxone but is a different delivery method, and Sublocade is a once-a-month injection for opioid use disorders. As a prescription drug, buprenorphine medications include Buprenex, used to treat pain, as is Belbuca. 

Buprenorphine Effects

The effects of buprenorphine are similar to morphine, but it’s 20 – 30 times more potent in treating pain. It’s also a depressant that can cause slow or shallow breathing, making it a dangerous mix with alcohol or benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, or Klonopin. Buprenorphine abuse produces feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Injecting “sobos” is a quick way to become addicted, as the drug hits your bloodstream more quickly.

Signs of Buprenorphine Abuse and Addiction

If you take Subutex or another buprenorphine-only drug, you’re more likely to suffer from substance abuse disorders. Without naloxone as a deterrent, it’s easy to get hooked on the good feelings that the drug provides. In addition to the euphoria and breathing issues, “buse” can make you feel sedated, which is another way to get high for some suffering from buprenorphine addiction.

Worried that you (or a loved one) are in the midst of buprenorphine abuse? You’re likely to see signs such as slurred speech, itchiness, impaired movement, and muscle aches. You might also experience insomnia, nausea or vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and high blood pressure.

Anyone who has experienced opiate addiction also has a higher likelihood of buprenorphine addiction. Other signs of “buse” abuse include lying to doctors to get more “subs”, seeing more than one doctor to make sure you have enough, injecting the drug instead of taking a pill, losing weight and pulling away from people or activities you used to enjoy.

Buprenorphine Withdrawal Symptoms

Fortunately “buse” withdrawal is typically milder than heroin withdrawal, but you could still feel like you have severe flu for a week or two. Some of the symptoms of withdrawal from buprenorphine addiction include:

  • Changes in appetite or sleeping habits
  • Mood swings
  • Stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Cold sweats and body aches
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Other flu-like symptoms

Long Term Side Effects of Buprenorphine Abuse

You’re likely to develop cravings for “sobos” the longer you continue to take them. Your memory will get worse and your behavior can become erratic. Overdosing on buprenorphine can be accompanied by seizures, slow heartbeat, vomiting, irritability, stomach pain, and even coma. Because it’s a respiratory depressant that slows down your breathing, mixing it with other depressants like alcohol or other opiates can be fatal.

Buprenorphine Addiction Treatment

While you can achieve long-term recovery from buprenorphine, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. You may need a medical detox to safely withdraw, in addition to inpatient treatment. For some, partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient programs will work too. Sober living and other aftercare programs will help with relapse prevention.

At Trupath, all the levels of care you might need are available to you. Whether your buprenorphine addiction requires inpatient rehab or an outpatient program, we’ll work with you through individual therapy programs as well as group peer counseling. We also specialize in dual diagnosis treatment for substance abuse disorders. 

In addition to cognitive behavioral therapy to help with life skills, we offer experiential therapy (such as animal or art therapy), anger management, and family sessions, among other therapy programs. Don’t wait to treat your prescription drug abuse – make an appointment to start living the substance-free life you deserve to have.