drug and substance addiction

What Is The Difference Between Buprenorphine And Naloxone?

Welcome back to another entry here on the Direct2Recovery blog! Last time we talked a bit about what patients may experience when it comes to fighting Suboxone withdrawal. This month, we’d like to break down two other types of medications that are used to assist in dependency and overdoses. Buprenorphine and Naloxone are two very different kinds of medication that are used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Combined, the two form  Suboxone, which is used to treat opioid addiction. 

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid use disorder as an MAT. Buprenorphine is normally prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and other behavioral therapies to provide patients with a whole-person approach. Direct2Recovery will provide the medication and counseling to those who are approved into their program. 

Buprenorphine is the first medication to treat OUD that can be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices, significantly increasing access to treatment.

How Buprenorphine Works

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist, meaning it produces feelings of euphoria and potentially respiratory depression to low or moderate doses. Buprenorphine works to dull the side effects of opioids such as methadone and heroin and is safe and effective when taken as prescribed. 

Buprenorphine has unique pharmacological properties that help:

  • Diminish the effects of physical dependence to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings
  • Increase safety in cases of overdose
  • Lower the potential for misuse

Before Starting Buprenorphine, patients diagnosed with an OUD should talk to their health care practitioner before starting treatment with buprenorphine to fully understand the medication and other available treatment options.

Common and Serious Side Effects of Buprenorphine

Common side effects of buprenorphine include:

  • Constipation, headache, nausea, and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Inability to sleep
  • Fever
  • Blurred vision or dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Disturbance in attention

What is Naloxone

Naloxone, the second half of Suboxone, is designed to reverse overdoses. Also known as Narcan® and is an “opioid antagonist as well. More specifically, Naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening situations. The medication binds to opioid receptors in the brain to block the effects of other opioids and reverse their effects. Naloxone can quickly restore normal breathing to a person if their breathing has slowed or stopped because of an opioid overdose. 

It is a non-addicted prescription medication. Addictions are impossible to form because Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system. If there are no opiates, then Naloxone has no effect. 

Although it is traditionally administered by emergency response personnel, naloxone can be administered by those who are trained to use it. This makes it ideal for treating overdoses, no matter when or where it occurs. Naloxone may be injected in the muscle, vein or under the skin or sprayed into the nose.

What Precautions Are Needed When Giving Naloxone?

Naloxone is not a substitute for emergency care. If an overdose occurs, 911 should be called right away, even if Narcan is administered. People who are given naloxone should be observed constantly until emergency care arrives and for at least two hours by medical personnel after the last dose of naloxone to make sure breathing does not slow or stop.

What are the side effects of naloxone?

Naloxone is an extremely safe medication that only has side effects in those with opioids in their systems. Naloxone may cause withdrawal symptoms which may be uncomfortable, but are not life-threatening. 

Withdrawal symptoms may include the following: 

  • Headache
  • Changes In Blood Pressure
  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Tremors

Buprenophrone and Naloxone Are Powerful Medications

Whether together or alone, Buprenophrone and Naloxone are powerful medications that can help wean a user off opioids. 

Alone, one can help fight addictions and the other can help reverse overdoses. Together, they form Suboxone. As mentioned above, Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction. Suboxone is just one part of the program for treating opiate addiction here at Direct2Recovery. In concert with the medication, Direct2Recovery provides integrated care to give our patients the best possible chances for success. 

If you want to learn more about Suboxone, read all about it in our blog

Medication gives you a shot, 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.

If you or someone you know is suffering through addiction, please reach out and begin to seek treatment today! Even in these turbulent times beating addiction is possible! Contact them today and let Direct2Recovery help you heal.

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