Buprenorphine addiction

Buprenorphine, also known as Subutex or Suboxone, is a prescription medication typically used to manage pain or treat opiate addictions. Buprenorphine works by binding to receptors in the brain, as a result blocking pain signals and reducing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. However, despite its legitimate medical uses, this drug also has the potential to be addiction-forming. In fact, buprenorphine-related deaths continue to rise, with the latest statistics showing 30 deaths in 2019.

If you or someone you know is struggling with buprenorphine addiction, don’t wait until it is too late to seek help. Buprenorphine rehab can help you to get back on your feet and start a drug-free life.

Buprenorphine addiction injection

What is buprenorphine addiction?

Buprenorphine addiction is a serious condition that is characterised by compulsive drug-seeking behaviour and the inability to stop using the substance despite negative consequences.

Although the risk of buprenorphine addiction is not as high compared to other drugs, it is often misused outside of a medical setting. For example, heroin users may obtain buprenorphine illegally in order to prolong their ability to take heroin, using buprenorphine as a means to quell withdrawal symptoms and then going back to heroin later. Abusing buprenorphine in this way is dangerous and can cause serious harm, including overdose.

Without proper treatment, it is possible to become dependent on buprenorphine, taking it as a means to live without withdrawal symptoms and to feel ‘normal’. In order to overcome this problem, buprenorphine rehab is a necessary step.

Am I addicted to buprenorphine?

As with other prescription drug addictions, it can be tough to admit when your buprenorphine use has become a problem or know when to seek professional help. However, there are some signs you can look out for that indicate an addiction to buprenorphine.

Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions and answer honestly:

  • Do I regularly consume buprenorphine outside of the ways in which it is prescribed?
  • Do I find myself preoccupied with buying and taking buprenorphine a lot of the time?
  • Do I visit multiple doctors to try and get a new prescription of buprenorphine?
  • Do I take buprenorphine even when I am not in pain, or ‘just in case’ I start to experience pain?
  • Do I often fail to meet responsibilities or commitments as a result of my buprenorphine use?
  • Have I tried to quit or reduce my consumption of buprenorphine but failed?
  • Do I need to take increasingly higher doses of buprenorphine to feel the same effects?
  • Do I experience cravings or withdrawal symptoms when I am not taking buprenorphine?
  • Has my buprenorphine use negatively impacted my work, school, relationships or finances?
  • Do I continue to take buprenorphine despite being aware of the detrimental effects it is having on my life?

It is important to remember that you do not need to answer ‘yes’ to every single one of these questions to be addicted to buprenorphine. If you can relate to even one of these statements, buprenorphine rehab could be beneficial to you – and the sooner you start treatment, the closer you will be to a healthier and happier life.

The side effects of buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has a number of common side effects which can pose a danger to your health if not properly managed.

Some of the buprenorphine side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and sweating
  • Oral health problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Hormone imbalances

Buprenorphine addiction fever

In particular, if buprenorphine is taken with other depressant stimulants such as alcohol, the effects on the central nervous system can cause respiratory failure, coma and even death.

How is buprenorphine addiction treated?

The most effective treatment for buprenorphine addiction is to attend an inpatient rehab programme. At Liberty House, rehab treatment consists of three stages: detox treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare.

Buprenorphine detox

Buprenorphine detox is a process that occurs when an individual attempts to stop taking buprenorphine. As your body naturally begins to expel the substance, it is common for individuals to experience some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. This happens as a result of the brain and body having to readjust to a life without the drug after a long period of abuse.

Some buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Fever and chills

Depending on the intensity of your buprenorphine addiction, these withdrawal symptoms can vary in both severity and duration. Most buprenorphine users will experience the worst of their withdrawal symptoms in the first three days, gradually easing as the week goes on. By week two, you may still experience some lingering psychological issues such as anxiety and depression – these may continue for months in severe cases.

Buprenorphine medical detox

If you undergo buprenorphine detox in an inpatient facility like Liberty House, it is likely that a tapering regime will be implemented to safely wean you off the drug and prevent any acute withdrawal symptoms. You will participate in a medical assessment where our doctors will calculate your individual needs and come up with a plan to support your detox journey.

Buprenorphine rehab

While buprenorphine detox treats the physical aspect of your addiction and is the first hurdle in recovery, you will next need to address the psychological causes of your drug use. This is done through buprenorphine rehab. During this stage of treatment, you will work with therapists to assess the reasons for your buprenorphine addiction, allowing you to develop a greater understanding of your triggers.

Some of the addiction therapies and activities offered at Liberty House include:

Without delving into the underlying cause of your drug abuse, it is unlikely you will achieve a long-term recovery. At Liberty House, we have built a buprenorphine rehab programme with your success in mind. Our goal is to help you reach sobriety in a healthy and meaningful way, to not only free you from the burden of drug abuse but to encourage you to grow on a personal level too.

Buprenorphine aftercare

Unfortunately, with any addiction, your recovery does not end when you walk out of the rehab facility’s doors – in fact, this is where the hard work really begins. Buprenorphine addiction is a long-term battle that you must continue to dedicate yourself to recovering from as you go back to your day-to-day life.

In reality, leaving buprenorphine rehab can feel daunting for many of our clients. The thought of going back home and being exposed to potential triggers is highly stressful. Liberty House, therefore, offers one year of free aftercare to all of our clients. This is vital to ensure you are still receiving adequate support as you adjust back to normal life, and it gives you the opportunity to connect with others in similar circumstances.

Attending aftercare is proven to boost your chances of maintaining sobriety, as it offers accountability, structure and motivation to continue on your path of recovery.

Risk of buprenorphine relapse

Your buprenorphine addiction recovery will be filled with ups and downs, and due to the chronic nature of addiction, the risk of relapse will unfortunately always be present. If you relapse, however, it should not be seen as a failure, but more as a lesson to learn from. Don’t let a slip-up deny you your chances of a life free from buprenorphine – instead, use it as motivation to get back on track.

Knowing the risk factors that can contribute to a potential buprenorphine relapse can help you to avoid falling back into old patterns. Some of the causes of relapse can include:

  • Stress: this is the number one cause of buprenorphine relapse as users turn to the drug as a way to cope with difficult circumstances. As stress is an unavoidable aspect of life, it is vital to learn healthier ways of coping, through buprenorphine rehab.
  • Negative emotions: feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration, loneliness and even boredom are all major causes of relapse and can easily push you back into the arms of buprenorphine. Learning how to manage your emotions, as well as keeping yourself busy with enjoyable activities, will help to negate your chances of relapse.
  • Social or environmental factors: encountering people who use buprenorphine or situations where you might have used buprenorphine can trigger intense cravings and lead to relapse. It is important to avoid coming into contact with these situations, especially in the early days of recovery.

Buprenorphine addiction is often a deeply rooted behaviour that is very difficult to overcome without the assistance of medical professionals. Choosing a reputable and trustworthy rehab facility will give you the best chances of getting clean and staying clean.7

Buprenorphine addiction stress

Buprenorphine addiction: the facts

  • Buprenorphine is known as a partial agonist opioid, whereas drugs like heroin, morphine and oxycodone are full opioid agonists.
  • Buprenorphine is not as potent compared to other opioids, however it does produce a mild euphoric effect and block pain receptors.
  • The effects of buprenorphine will plateau when larger doses are consumed and there will not be any further effects.
  • Buprenorphine is most commonly misused by existing drug addicts as a way to stop withdrawal symptoms in between highs.
  • Buprenorphine can also be abused by those seeking a mild opioid high and choose buprenorphine as their drug of choice.
  • Buprenorphine addiction can also develop in those who are prescribed the drug for pain management and begin to use it outside of its intended use.

What are the next steps?

If you are struggling with buprenorphine and are ready to get the help you need to recover, get in contact with Liberty House today. Our friendly and welcoming team have a wealth of experience in buprenorphine addiction treatment and can guide you every step of the way. Although buprenorphine rehab may seem like an intimidating process, don’t let your fears get in the way of achieving the life you dream of. We promise that as soon as you step through our doors, a weight will be lifted off of your shoulders.

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take for buprenorphine to get out of your system?
Buprenorphine has a long half-life of around twenty-four to forty-eight hours – this is the amount of time it takes for the buprenorphine in your body to reduce by half. For buprenorphine to be totally eliminated from the body, it takes around eight days.
Do I run the risk of getting addicted to buprenorphine when it is used for other addiction treatments?
Yes. There is, unfortunately, always a risk of addiction when it comes to taking buprenorphine. You can, however, mitigate this risk by following your doctor’s instructions and never taking the drug outside of its intended use.
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