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Buprenorphine Treatment and Why It Works

What is Buprenorphine Treatment and Why It Works

Our mission at Direct2Recovery is to help as many people overcome substance use disorder. We offer specialized services in our outpatient program to give everyone the chance they deserve to take their life back. Our Integrated Care Model for addiction recovery includes telemedicine, counseling, programs, and medication assisted treatment to give our patients the highest chance for success to beat their addiction. 

One of the tools in our arsenal is Buprenorphine. Let’s take a deeper look at what Buprenorphine is and how it works to help patients take their life back from addiction. 

What exactly is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid, made from thebaine. It is used to treat those addicted to opioids such as heroin, morphine, and fentanyl.

Buprenorphine is different from other opioids in that it is a partial opioid agonist. This means it may lead to the following:

  • Less euphoria and physical dependence
  • Lower potential for misuse
  • A ceiling on opioid effects
  • Relatively mild withdrawal profile

Buprenorphine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA recommends taking medications such as buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective.

Buprenorphine is much safer than continued use of illicit drugs and can assist a person in regaining normal functioning. It is also arguably safer than Methadone, LLAM, and other maintenance treatments. 

Several medications contain Buprenorphine, including:

  • Buprenex (Buprenorphine injection)
  • Butrans (transdermal Buprenorphine)
  • Probuphine (Buprenorphine implant)
  • Subutex (Buprenorphine tablet)
  • Suboxone (Buprenorphine and Naloxone tablet and film)
  • Zubsolv (Buprenorphine and Naloxone tablet)

Side Effects of Buprenorphine 

Side effects may be present at the beginning of treatment and will lessen over time as we find the right Buprenorphine dosage for you.

The most common side effects of Buprenorphine treatment are:

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Increased sweating
  • Tiredness or drowsiness 
  • Loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes, itching or hives
  • Tooth decay
  • Changes to menstruation 
  • Lowered sex drive 
  • Weight gain (particularly for females)

How Does Buprenorphine Treatment Work?

When a person is physically dependent on opioids, their brain is used to receiving a certain dosage of opioids each day. Opioids work by attaching to receptors in the brain that affect pleasure, respiration and pain. Once dependent, without opioids, the addicted brain goes into withdrawal.

Buprenorphine treatment counteracts much of that. It works by helping to prevent withdrawal symptoms and cravings that often lead to relapse, without providing a “high” that reinforces use. 

Once taken, the medication attaches itself to your brain’s opioid receptors and blocks out the opioid of abuse. It can produce similar effects to the opioid, such as pain-relief, euphoria, and respiratory depression, but these are felt to a much lesser degree.

image showing buprenorphine treatment and opioid receptors

Buprenorphine also blocks other opioids from binding to receptors in the brain. For example, if a person uses heroin after taking buprenorphine, the illicit drug can’t attach to opioid receptors. As a result, the person is unlikely to feel any effects.

Buprenorphine is a long-acting opioid. Its effects can last from one to three days. 

The Four Stages of Buprenorphine Treatment

Treatment using Buprenorphine usually involves three stages: induction, stabilization, and maintenance, and for some, taper and cessation.

Induction

 Induction is the first stage of Buprenorphine treatment. The goal is to find the minimum dose of Buprenorphine that helps the patient reduce their opioid use while experiencing no withdrawal symptom, minimal or no side effects, and no opioid cravings. 

Stabilization

The stabilization phase typically begins when a patient is experiencing no withdrawal symptoms, minimal or no side effects, and doesn’t crave opioids. The patient’s Buprenorphine dosage may be adjusted during this time. 

Maintenance

The longest period that a patient is on buprenorphine is the maintenance phase. This is when the patient begins to manage other symptoms of their substance use disorder through counseling and therapy. 

Taper and Cessation

When the time is right for stopping treatment with Buprenorphine, we have many strategies to help come off the medication comfortably with minimal side effects or withdrawal.

Does Buprenorphine Treatment Really Work? 

At Direct2Recovery, we understand that quitting substance use is a difficult process and everyone wants something that works. We have some good news: Buprenorphine, paired with our Integrated Care Model, significantly increases their chances of recovery. 

Let’s break it down: 

  • 10% of users recover from addiction without additional help
  • 25% recovery with medication assisted treatment (MAT)
  • 50% recover with a combination of Direct2Recovery’s MAT and counselin

Buprenorphine is just one part of the program for treating opiate addiction here at Direct2Recovery. In concert with the medication, we provide integrated care to give our patients the best possible chances for success. Medication gives you a shot and counseling helps get your mind right — each a building block to recovery. When you bring them together they position you for your best chance to change your life.

Direct2Recovery is Here To Help You Recover

At Direct2Recovery, we strive to make every patient that walks into our office feel comfortable and welcome. We treat addictions to alcohol, opiates, heroin, prescription medicines, and many other substances. Our licensed therapists provide counseling, therapy, and medication from our office in Phoenix, AZ 

We offer a range of services that are adapted to fit each individual’s unique needs. These services include:

  • Evaluation/Assessment
  • Outpatient Withdrawal Management (detoxification)
  • Continuing Recovery Care Program
  • Licensed Therapists
  • TOVA Test for ADD/ADHD
  • Offering MAT (medication assisted treatment)

Counseling/Therapy Requirements

Once Buprenorphine treatment starts, we require all of our patients to be in active counseling/therapy to increase their chance of recovery. Counseling must continue for the duration of treatment.

This is crucial to the recovery process because addiction is a learned behavior that conditions the brain to continually want the substance. Counseling can help change the brain back to where it used to be before the addiction began. 

Counseling also helps the patient rebuild relationships, repair finances, assume family responsibilities, decrease stress, anxiety, and depression, and helps the patient make other meaningful changes in their lives.

Telemedicine Visits

At Direct2Recovery, nothing is more important to us than making sure our patients are comfortable and safe during treatment. We are offering telemedicine to new and existing patients. There’s no need to visit the office because telemedicine is conducted over the phone or through a video call online. It makes healthcare accessible.

We provide all of our services through telemedicine including supervised drug testing and remotely filling prescriptions. 

Take the Next Step Toward Recovery 

If you or someone you know is suffering through addiction, please reach out and begin to seek treatment today! Beating addiction is possible. Contact us today and let Direct2Recovery help you or your loved ones heal.