Buprenorphine is used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
Approved for clinical use in October 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), medications such as buprenorphine, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of opioid dependency. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective.
As with all medications used in MAT, buprenorphine is prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and participation in social support programs.
Buprenorphine has unique pharmacological properties that help:
Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means that, like opioids, it produces effects such as euphoria or respiratory depression at low to moderate doses. With buprenorphine, however, these effects are weaker than full opioid agonists such as heroin and methadone.
Buprenorphine’s opioid effects increase with each dose until at moderate doses they level off, even with further dose increases. This “ceiling effect” lowers the risk of misuse, dependency, and side effects. Also, because of buprenorphine’s long-acting agent, many patients may not have to take it every day.
Buprenorphine’s side effects are similar to those of opioids and can include: