If you’re considering opioid addiction treatment, you’ll learn about several types of treatment options offered through a variety of clinics. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one of the most common methods and effective methods. MAT programs generally use one of three drugs to help treat opioid use disorder: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. Buprenorphine is one of the newer medications and an increasingly common choice among doctors who treat addiction.
What Is Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid. In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved buprenorphine as a treatment for opioid use disorder. This medication is a partial agonist, meaning it blocks the effects of other opioids. When buprenorphine blocks other opioids, including illicit substances like heroin or morphine, patients experience reduced cravings, fewer withdrawal symptoms and no feelings of euphoria. This process is an effective part of opioid addiction treatment and recovery.
Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction
Many MAT programs offer buprenorphine as part of their opioid use disorder treatment plans. It is a long-acting drug, which means a once-daily dose is adequate for most patients. If you receive services at an opioid treatment program (OTP), your doctor and clinic staff will determine the right prescription and treatment length for your recovery. Buprenorphine comes in several different formulations, including films, tablets, implants and injectables. Misuse-deterrent formulas reduce the risks of overdose among patients taking buprenorphine.
Patients taking buprenorphine for opioid addiction may experience side effects like drowsiness, dizziness, headaches and constipation. Talk to your doctor if you experience these or more severe side effects.
Why Is Buprenorphine Use Growing?
Buprenorphine is one of the three FDA-approved drugs for treating opioid use disorder, along with methadone and naltrexone. In the 20 years since its introduction to the market, buprenorphine has become the most commonly prescribed medication for treating opioid addiction. Between 2009 and 2018, the overall rate of buprenorphine use among people aged 15 to 80 increased from 1.97 to 4.43%. Data indicates this trend will continue.
While buprenorphine is similar to methadone, key differences explain why buprenorphine use is growing. Methadone is a highly regulated Schedule II drug only approved for use at Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs). Buprenorphine, however, is a Schedule III drug and more widely accessible through office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) and physicians who are certified to prescribe it.
This difference in regulations is because buprenorphine is a partial agonist, while methadone is a full agonist. As a partial agonist, buprenorphine has a ceiling effect. This limit makes buprenorphine safer and reduces the risk of overdose compared to a full agonist like methadone.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Clinics in the U.S.
At MedMark Treatment Centers, we have over 40 facilities around the country dedicated to providing medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Our medical providers and clinic staff combine medication, including buprenorphine and methadone maintenance, with counseling and other support services to help you get sober. We offer compassionate care to treat persistent opioid addiction.
If you’re struggling with opioid addiction, reach out to learn more about MedMark and how we can help you on your path to recovery.