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Buprenex Treatment For Heroin And Opioid Addiction

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 21, 2019

Medication-assisted therapy like Buprenex combined with counseling, support groups, and other forms of therapy are safe and effective methods for treating heroin and opioid addiction.

Most of us know that heroin addiction is a major problem in the United States. Opioid addiction, which includes opioid heroin, is also a major problem.

In 2012, about 2.1 million people were addicted to prescription opioids, and approximately 467,000 suffered from heroin addiction, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). If we know such trends are happening, even with treatment readily available, why can’t we stop opioid abuse before it starts?

More prescriptions for opioid narcotics are written every day, and we have accepted the widespread use of these medications for relieving a number of pain symptoms. With increased use comes increased risk of addiction, and the numbers reflect it.

Abuse of prescription opioids can also lead to heroin addiction. It takes only a short time to develop addiction to prescription opioids, and once the prescription ends, a person may be desperate to replace the effects of the drug. Heroin is inexpensive, easy to obtain, and is another opioid.

At the same time that heroin and opioid addiction trends are on the rise, so is available treatment for them. Buprenex treatment offers medication-assisted therapy which helps addicted individuals taper off the need for opioids.

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What Is Buprenex?

Buprenex is the brand name for the opioid analgesic, buprenorphine. Unlike other prescription opioids, buprenex is a partial agonist. This means that it produces the feelings of euphoria and slows breathing, producing a calming effect, but does not produce the rush feeling.

Without the rush, people who seek buprenex treatment are less likely to develop addiction than those who abuse opioids. The rush is what rewires the brain, training it to constantly seek that feeling. The effects of buprenex are also weaker and slower to release than those of other opioids.

What Is Buprenex Treatment Like?

Buprenex is administered in a controlled environment, such as a rehab center, with careful monitoring. Keeping buprenex dosage at a safe level is crucial to success in treatment. Individuals who seek buprenex treatment would receive doses that increase steadily until they level off, then slowly decrease until the patient no longer needs the medication.

Buprenex is slow to release, but produces long-lasting effects. Patients may not need a dose every day. The medication is typically combined with other treatment methods, like counseling and support groups or cognitive behavioral therapy.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains that there are three phases in buprenex treatment:

  • Induction phase: person is medically monitored after the start of treatment. The first dose is administered after a person has been off opioids or heroin for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Stabilization phase: person has stopped or decreased their abuse of opioids or heroin, experiences few or no cravings, and few or no side effects.
  • Maintenance phase: at this point, a person can begin to taper dosage, gradually weaning off use of buprenex. Each person is different, and timing depends on progress.

The Importance Of Treating Opioid And Heroin Addiction

Addiction to opioids and heroin can have lasting effects to your health, personal relationships, social environment, and more. Drastic health effects alone are reason enough to seek treatment.

Abusing prescription opioids can also lead to abuse of heroin. Heroin can cause permanent damage to a number of organs, according to the NIDA. That’s because heroin sold on the street may contain chemicals which clog blood vessels.

Some research even suggests that long-term abuse of opioids, including heroin, can cause permanent damage to the brain’s white matter. In time, this would affect a person’s behavior, reaction to situations of distress, and decision-making.

Addiction clouds a person’s thoughts, impairing his or her judgment. This can lead to a change in behavior or risky practices, even criminal acts. Many aspects of addiction can lead to adverse consequences. Treatment can be a means to an end for addiction.

What Are The Effects Of Heroin Addiction?

Heroin can produce a range of short-term effects, lasting from moderate to severe:

  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria
  • Flushed skin
  • Mental confusion
  • Nodding in/out of consciousness
  • Weighted feeling in arms/legs

Long-term effects can cause a number of complications, and include:

  • Abscesses: pus-filled, swollen tissue
  • Collapsed veins
  • Constipation
  • Heart lining/valves infection
  • Stomach cramps
  • Liver disease
  • Lung issues, such as pneumonia
  • Kidney disease

Prolonged abuse of heroin can result in withdrawal, or experiencing intense urges and other symptoms when not taking the drug. Symptoms of an opioid use disorder can range from moderate to severe and can manifest from nausea and headaches to muscle and bone pain or severe leg tremors.

What Are The Effects Of Opioid Addiction?

Possible short-term side effects of opioids are similar to those of heroin:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • In extreme cases, coma

Effects of extended opioid abuse are similar to that of heroin. As the NIDA explains, “a property of opioid drugs is their tendency, when used repeatedly over time, to produce tolerance.” Tolerance is the result of the body no longer responding to a substance as it has before.

You may guess that when a person who is addicted experiences tolerance, that person increases the dose to get the same effect. This may work for a time, but presents a new level of risk: overdose. Overdose can occur due to a buildup of the drug over time or at one time, so increasing dosage is dangerous, always.

Impact Of Addiction To Heroin And Opioids

Heroin and opioids are dangerous both because they are highly addictive and because they present such a high risk of overdose. Heroin can cause extensive damage to a person’s health and is often sought by people who first abused prescription opioids.

In fact, despite a rise in the numbers of heroin-related deaths from 1999 to 2012, heroin abuse has increased. Why? The answer may be due to an increase in prescription opioid abuse. Once a person no longer has access to the prescription, withdrawal effects may cause him or her to seek other options.

Heroin abuse has also seen an increase in use among youth. Many teens first obtain prescription opioids from a family member or friend who may not realize the risk of giving out these medications. Adolescence can be a rough time for anyone—add in drug abuse, and the struggles can be amplified.

Heroin and opioids both see a majority of use among younger age groups. Finding treatment for those affected is as important now as ever, and has the connections.

What Other Treatments Are Available?

Buprenex treatment is medication-assisted treatment but is often used in combination with other methods. Integrating several approaches helps ensure holistic healing, or healing a person’s whole self.

Another form of treatment is counseling: for individuals, family, or in a group setting. Cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy help change the way a person thinks: about motivation, his or her environment, his or her capabilities, daily routine, and more. Gender-based therapy allows men and women to receive care that is unique to their needs.

Whatever treatment you or your loved one receives, the most important thing is that it works for you. Comprehensive treatment plans should be tailored to individuals.

How You Can Get Help For Opioid Addiction

Maybe you are reading this today because you know someone who is struggling and aren’t sure how to help. Support is the first step, and you’re already there. Or, maybe you have struggled with addiction for a long time, and want to find a way out.

At, we can help you whether you are seeking help for you or a loved one. We can connect you with all the resources you need to get into treatment. When you contact us, you’ll receive a listening ear and professional treatment advice. Call us today at 888-757-5052 to find out more information about Buprenex, heroin or opioid addiction, and for all your treatment questions.

Drug Free World - Heroin Statistics

National Alliance Of Advocates For Buprenorphine Treatment - What Exactly Is Buprenorphine?

National Institute On Drug Abuse - America’s Addiction To Opioids

National Institute On Drug Abuse - DrugFacts: Heroin

Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration - Buprenorphine

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