About buprenorphine in the treatment of addiction
|Type of medicine||Opioid partial agonist|
|Used for||Treatment of addiction to opiate drugs such as morphine and heroin in over 16 year olds|
Suboxone® (buprenorphine with naloxone)
|Available as||Sublingual tablet (dissolves under the tongue)|
Buprenorphine is used to help people addicted to opiate drugs, such as morphine and heroin. It works by replacing the drug that you have previously used and prevents withdrawal symptoms.
Buprenorphine is also used for pain relief. When it is used for this, a different brand of buprenorphine tablet is used. There is more information about buprenorphine when it is used for pain relief in a separate leaflet called 'Buprenorphine (pain relief)'.
Before taking buprenorphine
Before taking buprenorphine make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have liver, kidney or prostate problems.
- If you have breathing problems, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- If you have low blood pressure.
- If you suffer from convulsions.
- If you have a problem in your bile duct.
- If you have been constipated for more than a week, or have an inflammatory bowel problem.
- If you have a thyroid or an adrenal gland problem.
- If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition causing muscle weakness).
- If you have recently suffered a serious head injury.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
- If you are taking any street or recreational drugs, or if you are taking any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take buprenorphine in the treatment of addiction
- Follow the advice your doctor has given you carefully, and read any printed information you have been given.
- Initially you will be asked to take buprenorphine where you can be supervised. This is to help you stick with your treatment and make sure you do not miss any doses.
- Buprenorphine is usually taken once each day. Put the tablet under your tongue and allow it to dissolve completely which will take 5 to 10 minutes. Do not swallow or chew the tablets.
- Do not take more than the dose your doctor has prescribed for you. Signs of overdose can include pinpoint pupils, difficulty breathing and eventually unconsciousness. If you suspect that you or someone else has had an overdose of buprenorphine contact your doctor or go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
- If you forget to take a dose, you should tell your doctor.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Keep your appointments with your doctor or Centre. The people there want to do everything they can to help you overcome drug dependency.
- If you do not stick to your appointments with your doctor, you risk having problems with your supply of buprenorphine. Buprenorphine cannot be supplied without a prescription, and the pharmacist can only dispense the prescription as the doctor has directed.
- If you miss three or more doses the pharmacist is likely to refer you back to your doctor as your dose may need to be reduced.
- Do not drink alcohol while you are being treated with buprenorphine.
- If you are planning a trip abroad you are advised to carry a letter with you from your doctor because buprenorphine is a controlled drug. If you plan to travel for more than 3 months, you must check first with the Home Office.
Can buprenorphine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common side-effects||What can I do if I experience this|
|Constipation||Try to eat a well balanced diet containing fibre and drink 6-8 glasses of water each day|
|Headache, difficulty sleeping||If these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Feeling or being sick||Eat little and often. Stick to simple foods|
|Drowsiness, weakness||Make sure your reactions are normal before driving, operating machinery or doing any other jobs which could be dangerous if you were not fully alert. Do not drink alcohol|
|Fainting or dizziness, particularly when getting up from a sitting or lying position||Getting up or moving more slowly may help|
|Sweating||Try to keep cool and drink plenty of water|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store buprenorphine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 59th Edition (March 2010) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Subutex® 0.4, 2 mg and 8 mg sublingual tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Subutex® 0.4, 2 mg and 8 mg sublingual tablets, Schering-Plough Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Suboxone® Tablets 2 mg & 8 mg; Manufacturer's PIL, Suboxone® Tablets 2 mg & 8 mg, Schering-Plough Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2011.
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen|
|Last Checked: 18/11/2010||Document ID: 1563 Version: 24||© EMIS|
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