Medication-assisted treatment can be a critical part of overall addiction treatment and successful recovery, but it is also not without its risks. Some opioid-derived treatment medications, such as Buprenorphine, can be abused like opioids would be as well.
Is Buprenorphine Addictive?
Although Buprenorphine was designed to help people end their addiction to heroin and other powerful opiates, Buprenorphine itself can cause addiction. Most people who abuse Buprenorphine have discovered that by taking more than the prescribed dose, they will feel euphoria and get high. A person can also become physically addicted to Buprenorphine in the same way that opiates cause physical dependence.
So how can a drug that was created to help people overcome their addiction to opiates cause addiction? Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid, and it is most commonly known by its brand name, Suboxone or Subutex. It will provide similar effects that other opiates cause, but they are much less intense.
Unlike heroin or other potent opiates, Buprenorphine is only a partial agonist. It’s not as easy to get “high” on Suboxone or Buprenorphine as traditional opiates, but it’s still very possible to misuse and abuse the drug if you don’t have a tolerance or are looking for a quick fix. Buprenorphine addiction detox and treatment follow the same approaches as therapy for Opioid Use Disorder for any opioid-based drug. If you’re addicted to taking Buprenorphine, then treatment is needed to get off the drug safely. Heroin, fentanyl, and prescription painkillers are full opioid agonists. An agonist is a drug that activates certain receptors in the brain. Full agonist opioids activate the opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in the full opioid effect.
Examples of full agonists are heroin, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, morphine, opium, and others. Partial agonist opioids activate the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a much lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine is an example of a partial agonist.
The Dilemma With Buprenorphine-Assisted Treatment
The dilemma many people have when they use Buprenorphine to end an addiction to other opiates is whether they will become addicted to Buprenorphine the same way they were to other drugs. Fortunately, since Buprenorphine can only be obtained from a licensed medical doctor certified to prescribe Buprenorphine, acquiring it is more complicated. Although there is an underground market for illegal Buprenorphine on the street, it is not exactly a sought-after drug.
People who are buying opiates on the street are after full agonist opiates like heroin. When a person experiments with Buprenorphine and has never used another opiate drug, they will most certainly feel high and likely get nauseous. Nausea occurs when a person has never used an opiate drug and has zero tolerance. Even the smallest amount of opiate can cause someone to vomit. However, the euphoria that Buprenorphine can produce for anyone can activate an addiction. It is important to remember that addiction occurs when a person experiences a rush of dopamine, serotonin, or endorphins. Each of these brain chemicals is responsible for making someone feel pleasure. The rate at which a person gets a rush of these pleasure-activating responses will encourage an even more powerful addiction. Since Buprenorphine is a slow-acting partial agonist, the onset of effects does not occur instantaneously. When a person uses Buprenorphine, the effects are not felt for 45 minutes up to an hour. However, even though Buprenorphine is less potent, it is still opioid-derived and addictive, and if a person takes enough, they could feel similar effects to opioids.
Can You Abuse Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is abused and misused more frequently by people who suffer from an addiction to opioids, also known as opioid use disorder. Drug cultures that favor opiates always have a friend or two that is prescribed Buprenorphine. Often that person is the ‘go-to’ source when they cannot get heroin or fentanyl and need relief from their withdrawal symptoms.
Unfortunately, the person who is willing to supply them with Buprenorphine is likely not in a healthy status of recovery from their opiate addictions; or is attempting to make a profit. Buprenorphine can be purchased on the street for $25 to $40 a tablet. A heroin addict will quickly pay that amount if they are experiencing the torture of opioid use withdrawal symptoms. Like other addictions, Buprenorphine can destroy a person’s life. Although it is a less sought-after drug, addiction can occur.
Get the Help You Need at Evoke Wellness at Miramar
To get help for an addiction to Buprenorphine or other opiates, Evoke Wellness at Miramar offers a buprenorphine addiction medical detox and treatment program. To learn about our Buprenorphine treatment methods, please connect with one of our specialists by calling 866.931.9312 or filling out our online form.