Buprenorphine addiction

Buprenorphine, also known under the brand name Suboxone, is a prescription medication that is used for the treatment of opioid addiction. This drug works by blocking the effects of opioids and can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Ironically, however, buprenorphine itself can also be habit-forming if you do not take it as prescribed. If you are concerned about buprenorphine addiction, Oasis Runcorn can provide you with the support and guidance you need to overcome it.

How does buprenorphine work?

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it activates opioid receptors in the brain but produces a milder effect compared to full agonists like heroin or oxycodone. The drug works by binding to opioid receptors and blocking them. This prevents other opioids from attaching to receptors and therefore discourages use.

Buprenorphine has a long half-life (from 25 to 70 hours) which means that the effects are long-lasting. The drug also exhibits a ‘ceiling effect’, meaning that beyond a certain dosage, its effects plateau. Increasing the dose beyond this threshold will have no additional effects.

How addictive is buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is considered to have lower addictive potential when compared to full opioid agonist drugs. However, it is important to recognise that misusing it can still lead to addiction. You are particularly at risk of buprenorphine addiction if you struggle with:

  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression
  • A family history of addiction
  • Past trauma, abuse or neglect
  • Increased stress levels
  • Substance use from a young age

Buprenorphine abuse is also high among heroin users, with many taking the drug in order to prolong their heroin use. Buprenorphine may be taken to ease withdrawal symptoms as you come down from heroin, helping you to feel better so that you can start the cycle of heroin abuse again. Misusing drugs in this way is dangerous and leaves you vulnerable to buprenorphine addiction.

Am I addicted to buprenorphine?

If you are using buprenorphine, either recreationally or as a prescription medication, it is important to regularly assess your consumption. Asking yourself the following questions can help to determine whether dependency and addiction are beginning to take hold.

  • Are you taking buprenorphine without a prescription or in higher doses than prescribed?
  • Do you feel a strong compulsion to take more buprenorphine than prescribed, even when it’s not necessary?
  • Have you experienced a loss of control over your buprenorphine use, finding it difficult to cut down or stop using it?
  • Have you visited multiple doctors in order to obtain a prescription for buprenorphine?
  • Are you obtaining buprenorphine from illegal sources or engaging in deceptive behaviour to obtain more of the medication?
  • Are you continuing to use buprenorphine despite experiencing negative consequences in your life, such as relationship strain, financial problems or legal issues?
  • Are you experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to reduce or stop using buprenorphine?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions, buprenorphine addiction treatment can help you to overcome the cravings and achieve sobriety. Oasis Runcorn is experienced in buprenorphine addiction and can provide vital guidance and support as you address any potential addiction or dependence issues.

The side effects of buprenorphine addiction

Buprenorphine can cause a range of unpleasant side effects which can impact your mental and physical wellbeing. Some of the most common side effects associated with buprenorphine addiction include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Shallow breathing
  • Reduced cognitive function
  • Anxiety and depression

These side effects can vary in severity depending on the level of buprenorphine abuse, the presence of other substances and your overall health. If you or someone you know is experiencing the side effects of buprenorphine addiction, our team of experts can help you make it through to the other side.

Can I overdose on buprenorphine?

It is possible to overdose on buprenorphine, especially if the drug is misused or taken in combination with other substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Taking higher doses of buprenorphine alongside other central nervous system depressants can lead to essential bodily functions shutting down. In this case, it is possible to experience respiratory failure, unconsciousness, coma and death.

Signs of buprenorphine overdose include:

  • Constricted pupils
  • Chills
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of consciousness

If you suspect a buprenorphine overdose, it is important to act quickly and seek emergency medical help. To avoid the risk of overdose, follow your doctor’s dosage instructions carefully.

Helping a loved one with buprenorphine addiction

Learning of a loved one’s addiction to buprenorphine can be distressing, and you may feel worried and anxious about what the future holds. The right support, however, can make all the difference in your loved one’s recovery. You can assist them in their recovery journey by:

  • Educating yourself on buprenorphine addiction: Learn about how the addiction develops, the treatment options and the recovery process. This knowledge will help you to understand what your family member is going through.
  • Encouraging open communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental space for your loved one to share their feelings and concerns. Encourage honest conversations about their struggles, goals and willingness to seek help.
  • Active listening and empathy are essential in every discussion.
  • Offering your support: Let your loved one know that you are there to support them through their recovery process. Offer encouragement, express your belief in their ability to overcome buprenorphine addiction and celebrate their milestones and accomplishments along the way.
  • Being open to family therapy: Family therapy can help address the impact of buprenorphine addiction on relationships, enhance communication and foster a supportive environment for recovery.
  • Remain patient and understanding: Buprenorphine addiction recovery is a journey that can have its ups and downs. Be patient with your loved one’s progress, encourage them to stay committed to treatment and offer reassurance during challenging moments.

Supporting a loved one with buprenorphine addiction can be emotionally taxing, so it is also crucial to prioritise self-care. Take time to enjoy your favourite hobbies, talk to other friends and family members and seek professional help if you need it.

Overcoming buprenorphine addiction

Thankfully freedom from buprenorphine addiction is possible with the help of rehab treatment. Oasis Runcorn offers compassionate care for those who wish to quit. Our comprehensive programme focuses on treating both the physical and psychological aspects of your prescription drug addiction.

An assisted detox ensures you are able to safely taper off buprenorphine, reducing intense withdrawal symptoms and laying a strong foundation for your onward recovery. Following this, you will participate in a variety of different therapies. Our highly skilled therapists will help you to pinpoint the root causes of your buprenorphine addiction, heal emotional wounds and discover healthier coping mechanisms.

Frequently asked questions

Should I stop taking my prescription buprenorphine?
It is not recommended to abruptly stop taking buprenorphine without consulting your doctor. They can guide you on the appropriate tapering schedule based on your individual needs and ensure a safe and smooth transition off the medication.
Are there any alternatives to buprenorphine?
Yes, there are alternatives to buprenorphine, including medications like Zubsolv and methadone. Your doctor will be able to advise on the best option for you.
How long do the effects of buprenorphine last?
Buprenorphine is a slow-acting and long-lasting drug that starts to take effect within forty minutes to two hours. Typically buprenorphine will block opioid receptors for at least twenty-four hours but may last up to sixty hours in some cases.