What Is Buprenorphine Used For?

Fact Checked and Peer Reviewed

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Buprenorphine, known by its brand name Suboxone, is used to treat opioid addiction.

For a long time, the treatment for opioid use disorder was a 30 day detox and then being sent back out into the world. But the evidence shows that long-term buprenorphine treatment can improve treatment outcomes, and buprenorphine (Suboxone) is now the recommended treatment for opioid use disorder.

So what is Suboxone, anyways?

Suboxone is the most well-known brand name combination of two medications: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. This is a fancy way of saying that it works the same way in the brain that other, stronger opioids do, like heroin or prescription pain pills. But it produces milder effects than other opioids, making it an ideal medication to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). The naloxone prevents the medication from being injected or misused.

Read more: Is buprenorphine an opiate?

Why would I take an opioid to treat opioid use disorder?

Addiction is a chronic brain disease, and long-term opioid use affects the body and the brain in the same way any other chronic disease does. The damage done by addiction can be repaired, though. Self-care, counseling, and buprenorphine treatment can all help you get back on track.

Read more: This is your brain on opioids

So how will buprenorphine help?

Buprenorphine can help with cravings and withdrawal caused by addiction, and long-term buprenorphine treatment has been shown to cut all causes of mortality in half. As Dr. Erik Anderson, the attending physician at Highland Hospital’s ED-Bridge Clinic in California, explains: “Buprenorphine is a clearly effective, evidence-based medicine for the treatment of opioid use disorder. It saves lives. Buprenorphine treats withdrawal symptoms and cravings, and very well tolerated by patients. Not only is buprenorphine a clearly life saving medication, patients have improved quality of life as well.”

Read more: The long-term benefits of buprenorphine treatment

If I take buprenorphine, will I be sober?

Yes! Buprenorphine and other prescribed medications, when taken as prescribed and under the supervision of a medical professional, can absolutely be a part of your recovery from addiction. If you feel mood-altered or have negative side effects from your medication, talk to your provider about adjusting your dose.

Read more: Why Suboxone is sober

I’m not sure if I have a problem with opioids. How can I know if I’m addicted?

If you’re wondering about a problem, you might have one. You can be dependent on opioids without being addicted to them. Many people rely on prescription opioids for chronic pain and have no problem taking them as prescribed by their doctors. Prescription opioids, or heroin, can become a problem for anyone. If you’re constantly taking more and more opioids despite negative consequences in your life, it might be time to talk to someone.

Take our quiz: Could it be opioid addiction?

The good news is recovery is possible. Although the headlines of the opioid crisis are often all gloom and doom, people are recovering from opioid use disorder every day. Many of our staff are in long-term recovery at Workit Health, and we are motivated by seeing our clients get their lives back from opiate addiction. If you need the motivation to start your recovery journey, check out some stories of recovery from opioid addiction.

As Workit Health’s Head of Marketing, Kali Lux leans in to the culture gap between addiction, recovery, and medicine. She’s interested in finding solutions that work for substance users better than drinking or drugging does, and believes Workit is one of them. She’s written extensively on her own experience through addiction into long-term recovery. You can connect with her on Twitter @kalireadsbooks.

Free 5 week Recovery Roadmap course from Workit Health

Sign up for our free course.

Get more advice, tips, and tricks by subscribing 
to our weekly newsletter.