Buprenorphine is a partial agonist opioid medication that is prescribed to help people who are addicted to heroin or other opioids manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and to help them remain drug-free from opioids long term. Unlike full agonist opioids, partial agonists have a ceiling effect. They do not cause the same level of euphoria that complete agonist opioids cause. Heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone (and others) are full agonist opioids and are the opioid most people abuse. Buprenorphine is most commonly prescribed in combination with Naltrexone in the name brand drug Suboxone. Naltrexone is an antagonist opioid, which means it blocks the effects of agonist opioids and does not cause any euphoria.
Why is Buprenorphine Prescribed for Heroin Addiction?
Buprenorphine can also be prescribed on its own without Naltrexone when a physical health concern exists where Naltrexone is not safe. Certain health conditions and pregnancy can require a person to be prescribed Buprenorphine without Naltrexone, brand name Subutex. People who are taking Buprenorphine as Suboxone will have a difficult time getting high from heroin as the Naltrexone will prevent heroin from attaching and activating opioid receptors in the brain. If someone is taking Subutex, they are more likely to get high if they use heroin, but the euphoria will be minimal. When a person has been prescribed buprenorphine (either as Suboxone or Subutex), the objective is to help them with their addiction to heroin or other opiates. Buprenorphine is considered a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) method for opioid use disorder, also known as addiction to opioids. Medication-Assisted Treatment is meant to help someone recover from addiction and stop abusing their drug of choice. However, these types of programs do not treat addiction all by themselves. If a person is truly ready to end their heroin use and addiction, they must not solely rely on buprenorphine to do it for them.
Mixing Heroin and Buprenorphine
Heroin addiction is a long-running addiction that completely changes a person’s lifestyle, priorities, and personality. Millions of heroin addicts will share a similar story about their addiction. Regardless of how they started on heroin, they will unanimously agree on how they turned into a different person once they become addicted to heroin. Before their heroin addiction, they were employed, had friends and social life, spent time with their family, did not commit crimes for money, nor had they encountered legal trouble because of their drug use or gotten arrested for a serious crime. The other things heroin-addicted people talk about is how the heroin causes debilitating withdrawals and that they are (or were) the main reason they can/could not stop using heroin. Finally, most heroin addicts will also say that they remained on heroin for several years. For all of these reasons, the drug buprenorphine has been incredibly effective in helping hundreds of thousands of heroin addicts get and remain clean from heroin for good.
Overcome Heroin Abuse With Medication-Assisted Treatment
To be successful while taking buprenorphine, a person must also be either receiving professional support form a substance abuse counselor or be admitted into a heroin addiction treatment program. The types of programs that are now available for heroin addiction include advanced treatment methods that rely on evidence-based forms of psychotherapy proven to help a person overcome their addiction. Heroin addiction is a disease of the mind and emotions that stem from multiple influencers. Buprenorphine does not treat addiction, but it assists addiction treatment by providing relief from heroin detox symptoms reducing cravings, preventing relapse. Yes, a person can get high from heroin while on buprenorphine, but not with the same intensity as they would just from heroin. If you or a loved one is on buprenorphine and still using heroin, a professional treatment program can provide the counseling and therapy to help you or your relative change internally so they won’t want to use heroin. To learn about these programs at Evoke Wellness in Florida, please reach out to one of our representatives.