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How does buprenorphine help treat opioid dependence?

Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex) can both stimulate and block opioid receptors (a group of receptors in the central nervous system), depending on the dose you take. Buprenorphine comes as a tablet or film that dissolves under the tongue. At lower doses, buprenorphine works mostly to stimulate the receptors; at higher doses, it does the opposite. Because of these properties, buprenorphine is less likely than methadone, the best-known and most frequently used medication for treating opioid dependence, to lead to misuse.

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