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Buprenorphine Patches: A Miracle or a Curse?

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Belonging to the family of medications used to assist opioid addiction, Buprenorphine is a increasingly popular drug in addiction treatment. It is an opioid itself and is used in "Opioid Substitution Therapy", replacing more dangerous drugs like heroin or OxyContin. Buprenorphine Patches are a relatively new form of the drug, allowing patients an extended slow release of medicine. Are these new patches more effective in assisting opioid maintenance? Are there any drawbacks to patches compared to the traditional tablets?


How It Works

Medical information provided by the companies behind Buprenorphine claims:

Buprenorphine is used to help you keep off street drugs such as heroin. It can prevent or reduce the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you stop using such drugs. It is a medicine that is similar to heroin and works as a replacement treatment. Many people choose to stay on Buprenorphine long-term, although some people gradually reduce their dose and come off it.

In treatment of opioid addiction and substance abuse, Naloxone is combined with the drug. Naloxone is an opioid blocker that reduces the euphoric effects of opioids and reduces cravings. It has been in the news recently for its use in Narcan. Used to prevent opioid overdoses, Narcan save someone overdosing on opiates by reversing the effects of the drugs.

Basically, Buprenorphine Patches allow the opioid dependent person to still receive opioids without the potential for abuse and overdose that is common with heroin, OxyContin, and painkillers. Patients taking Buprenorphine for addiction reasons are strongly recommended to participate in additional recovery practice; therapy, 12-Step Programs, etc.

Whats the Down-Side?

Even with Naloxone and in the patch form there is a chance of misuse and abuse.  Medical communities warn that the "Buprenorphine patch is a narcotic pain medicine that may become habit-forming. Misuse or abuse of Buprenorphine patch by placing it in the mouth or chewing, swallowing, injecting, or snorting it can lead to overdose and death".


It is important to remember that Buprenorphine is still an opioid and requires daily constant medication. If someone were to stop taking Buprenorphine they would be at risk of withdrawals and a return to other opioids. Addiction specialists warn against long-term use of the medication. Patients receiving Buprenorphine should discuss a gradual tapering off of the medicine, along with therapy or a program of recovery. When used correctly, Buprenorphine can aid recovery from opioid addiction.



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