The generic form of a medicine called Subutex, Buprenorphine is a prescription drug that is used primarily for the treatment of opioid painkiller dependence. For example, the drug can treat dependence on OxyContin or oxycodone. It is also used to treat pain but in lower dosages.
After an operation, the doctor may prescribe buprenorphine to treat pain and help the client recover fast. The pain is effectively reduced because the drug works on the brain and the nervous system.
Buprenorphine is also effective in treating addictions to narcotic drugs. To succeed in treating these addictions, naloxone is combined with buprenorphine. Naloxone is an ingredient that effectively counters the effects of buprenorphine overdose. When buprenorphine and naloxone is combined, it is called Suboxone, which is oftentimes given inside the doctor’s office to ensure safety and privacy.
Buprenorphine is a controlled and narcotic substance. Any prescription from the doctor means that it is only for use of the client. The client should not share the drug to other clients even if they all seem to have the same symptoms.
Warnings for Buprenorphine
Buprenorphine is similar to other narcotic medicines. It can slow down the user’s breathing. When there is improper use of the drug, there will be increased risk of suffering from the side effects and may lead to death later on. Whenever you feel like the medicine is no longer working, you should immediately tell your doctor.
When your doctor has given you prescription to take buprenorphine, you should not take sleeping pills, tranquilizers, sedatives or any other narcotic medications for pain. You should not also take other medicines that may cause slow breathing and sleepiness. If these are not avoided, it can result to side effects that are more dangerous.
In addition, you should not take buprenorphine when drinking alcohol. The drug may increase the effects of alcohol and this could also lead to dangerous side effects. Taking buprenorphine may form a habit in its users.
When about to be given a prescription of the drug, you should inform your doctor if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other breathing problems, kidney problems and liver problems.
If your doctor advised you to take the drug for a certain period of time, you should not take the drug beyond the prescribed time because it may lead to unwanted side effects. When there is continued intake even after the prescribed time, you may develop dependency to the drug. This is dangerous because when you suddenly stop taking the drug, you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms.
Buprenorphine and Pregnancy
Buprenorphine is not advisable for women who want to get pregnant and women who are already pregnant. For breastfeeding mothers, it is also very important to let their doctors know that they are feeding babies. This is because the substance can be passed on to the baby through the mother’s breast milk. When this happens, the baby can be in a dangerous situation and may suffer from the negative side effects of the drugs.
Side Effects of Buprenorphine
Like other drugs, buprenorphine also has side effects. You should always inform your doctor whenever symptoms are not subsiding. The symptoms include:
- Stomach pain
- Difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep
The other side effect that are less serious include:
- Depressed mood, headache
- Double vision, blurred vision
- Constipation, nausea, vomiting
- Tired feeling, spinning sensation, weakness, dizziness
- Tingly feeling or numbness, increased sweating
Serious Side Effects
Buprenorphine also has serious side effects. Though the symptoms are uncommon you should immediately call your doctor whenever you observe any of them. These are:
- Skin rash
- Upset stomach
- Slowed breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Unusual bruising or bleeding
- Extreme tiredness
- Pain in the stomach’s upper right part
Then, you should also watch out for allergic reactions. When you start to notice any of these reactions, then you should immediately ask for emergency medical help. These reactions include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of throat, tongue, lips, or face
Buprenorphine is similar to other narcotic medicines because it can slow down the user’s breathing. When the breathing becomes too weak, the client may die.
If there are serious side effects, the user must call the doctor immediately. The following are considered serious side effects:
- Slow or fast heart rate
- Blue fingernails or lips
- Shallow or weak breathing, fainting, feeling light-headed
- Not urinating or urinating less than usual
- Feelings of extreme happiness
When you experience or feel problems that are unusual while under buprenorphine medication, you should immediately inform your doctor to apply the necessary first aid solution or treatment.
Interactions with Buprenorphine
Patients should not use buprenorphine with tranquilizers, muscle relaxers, sleeping pills, sedatives and other narcotic medications for pain. The same is true with medicines that can make the client suffer from slow breathing or sleepiness. If this is not avoided, mixing of buprenorphine with other narcotic drugs will result to dangerous side effects.
On the other hand, there are other medicines that can have interaction with buprenorphine. Before you use buprenorphine, you should inform your doctor whether or not you are currently taking the following medicines:
- St. John’s wort
- Methadone (Dolophine)
- HIV protease inhibitors like ritonavir (Norvir)
- Azole antifungals ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- Other narcotic pain medicine
While taking Buprenorphine, you should always avoid drinking alcohol because doing so will increase the alcohol’s effects. Increased side effects is dangerous.
Buprenorphine can cause the client to suffer from blurred vision and impaired reaction or thinking. When this happens, users have to be careful when driving.
If you want to consume grapefruit juice, ask your doctor first if you are taking the medicine.
Dosage of Buprenorphine
The doctor will prescribe Buprenorphine in the form of injections or tablets when treating pain. The drug also comes in the form of skin patches that are used for the treatment of long-term pains.
There are overdose symptoms such as:
- Slow breathing
- Weak pulse
- Clammy or cold skin
- Slow heart rate
- Weakness or extreme drowsiness
Buprenorphine Missed Dose
Whenever you miss taking a dose, it is advisable that you take it the soonest time possible. But if it’s already a few minutes before the next dose, skip the dose you missed and try sticking to your regular schedule of dosing.