Drug and Alcohol - Opioid Addiction - Medication-Assisted Treatment

What You Need to Know About Buprenorphine & Mat for Opioid Addiction

Addiction to opioids can be extremely harmful. Buprenorphine and MAT can help treat heroin, fentanyl, and other forms of opioid addiction.

What You Need to Know About Buprenorphine & MAT For Opioid Addiction

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 24, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

Stats About Opioid Use Disorder:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid use disorder (OUD) is a very serious and widespread disease. In 2019, 70% of overdose deaths involved opioids. 

Buprenorphine is a medication used to treat OUD as well as pain. It is specifically used as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), but it's crucial that this drug is prescribed as part of a holistic treatment approach with other treatment modalities.

As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states: "As with all medications used in MAT, buprenorphine should be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and other behavioral therapies to provide patients with a whole-person approach.

This prescription medication is used to help individuals reduce or quit opiate use and is available in the following FDA-approved forms:

  • Sublingual tablets (Subutex)

  • Buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual films (Suboxone)

  • Buprenorphine/naloxone sublingual tablets (Zubsolv)

  • Buprenorphine/naloxone buccal film (Bunavail)

  • Buprenorphine implants (Probuphine)

  • Buprenorphine extended-release injection (Sublocade)

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment? 

MAT is a safe and highly successful way to help individuals recover from substance use disorder (SUD) by using prescription medications. Here at The Edge Treatment Center, we see the correlation between chronic diseases and drug addiction, so we treat both.

MAT can help individuals caught in a cycle of receiving treatment and then relapsing. MAT replaces the negative emotions of illicit drug use with positive emotions through rehabilitation, also known as drug replacement theory

Ways that MAT & Buprenorphine can help those with SUD include:
  • Helps manage withdrawal symptoms through the medications 

  • Reduces drug cravings 

  • Eliminates the harmful effects of drug use such as overdose, assault, and potentially laced drugs

How Does Buprenorphine Work? 

An opioid partial agonist, buprenorphine "produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression at low to moderate doses," according to SAMHSA. These effects are less intense than methadone and heroin, which are full opioid agonists.

Buprenorphine, which is safe and effective when taken as prescribed, can help "diminish the effects of physical dependency to opioids" and has a lower potential for misuse. 

Buprenorphine and Opioid Use Disorder

To begin buprenorphine treatment, the individual must refrain from opioid use for 12-14 hours before treatment. The main focus of this drug is to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms, so the client must also be in the early stages of withdrawal to get the full effects of buprenorphine.

Once the withdrawal symptoms have lessened or gone away entirely, an adjustment to the dosage can be made. To prevent relapse in the future, the client can continue with long-term treatment. 

Buprenorphine treatment occurs in three phases: 

Induction phase: This is the initial phase, medically monitored to ensure a successful onset. It is also essential to keep in mind that buprenorphine can cause minor to severe withdrawal symptoms in those who are not in the early stages of withdrawal or who have other opioids in their bloodstream. 

Stabilization phase: This is the second phase, which begins when the client's withdrawal symptoms have gone away or reduced. 

Maintenance phase: This is when the client has adjusted to their dose. This phase looks different for each client, so it will be tailored to their individual needs. The client then can look into other long-term treatments to prevent relapse. 

What Are the Side Effects of Buprenorphine? 

One of the main side effects of buprenorphine is respiratory depression, which causes the client's breathing to become shallow and slower. This is one of the more dangerous side effects of buprenorphine and happens with misuse. 

Other physical side effects may include: 

  • Headache 

  • Nausea and vomiting 

  • Sweating 

  • Constipation 

  • Dizziness and fainting 

  • Irregular heartbeat 

  • Backpain 

  • Blurry vision 

  • Drowsiness 

Mental and emotional side effects may include: 

  • Anxiety 

  • Depression 

  • Nervousness 

  • Difficulty sleeping 

All of these side effects should be monitored closely while a client is taking buprenorphine. 

Safety Precautions to Keep in Mind

It's crucial to consult a health professional before taking new medications, including MAT drugs such as buprenorphine. Additional precautions surrounding the use of buprenorphine include:

  • Mixing large amounts of buprenorphine with other drugs can be very harmful or fatal

  • Tell a doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant before using buprenorphine

  • Don't share buprenorphine with anyone, even if they are experiencing the same symptoms as you

The Edge Treatment Center Makes Use of Buprenorphine & Mat

At The Edge Treatment Center, we have a different approach to recovery. We focus on education and teamwork, and we understand the positive effects that using medication during the withdrawal phases can have. We prescribe medications such as buprenorphine to help ease the withdrawal process and ensure a more successful recovery. We also understand that every client is unique, and that treatment should take a one-size-fits-all approach.

During your time spent at The Edge, we will provide you with essential life skills, meaningful relationships, fun activities, and comprehensive relapse prevention education. 

If this is a program you have been researching for a while but still have questions about, now is the perfect time to reach out to The Edge Treatment Center. We understand how scary SUD can be and are here to help you or a loved one take action in your life.

Contact us today to learn more.

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