What is buprenorphine (Suboxone)?

Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is a medication that is used to treat opioid pain medicine addictions. Buprenorphine is similar to morphine and heroin in that it acts on pain medicine receptors in the brain, but it doesn't produce a "high" or dangerous side effects. Only doctors specially trained in addiction can prescribe buprenorphine. This medicine is a controlled substance.
Buprenorphine is the first medication for opioid maintenance and detoxification that physicians can dispense in their office. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist that blocks the effects of other opioids, and is taken sublingually (under the tongue). Buprenorphine interacts in similar, but significantly different ways at the same mu receptors in the brain where heroin, methadone, and prescription pain relievers, such as oxycontin, initiate their effects. This distinctive pharmacology gives buprenorphine its safety margin and low potential for diversion. It eliminates the major motivation for opioid abuse by preventing withdrawal symptoms and it produces less stimulation and physical dependence than full agonists.
Buprenorphine is also an effective pain medication, and has been used for this purpose for many years. It is 15 times more potent than injected morphine. The medication is different from other opioids so the client usually feels more "clear headed" when taking it.

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