Side Effects, Withdrawal, and Buprenorphine Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine Addiction Treatment Program overall in ColoradoBuprenorphine addiction happens more often that most people would care to admit. This is a drug that is frequently prescribed to people who want to stop using other opioids, like heroin or Oxycodone. For many, it can be their saving grace. For others, it can cause them even more problems. This is where our buprenorphine addiction treatment program comes into play.

Buprenorphine does have a lot of side effects, just like other opioid medications. Although many doctors claim it’s not possible, people do become addicted to it. When they do, they often suffer through painful withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit.

The good news is that treatment is available for you if you’re addicted. First, it’s important to learn as much about this medication as you can, including what you need to do to recover.

What is Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a medication that is frequently used to treat opioid addiction. When it’s prescribed for this purpose, it’s called opioid replacement therapy, or medication assisted treatment. It’s known to be highly effective, which often makes it doctors’ go-to choice for patients in need of recovery.

The drug was approved for medical use in our country in 1981. In 2012 alone, there were more than 9.3 million prescriptions written for it. It comes in the form of an injection, a tablet, a skin patch or an implant.

Buprenorphine has several brand names, including:

  • Subutex
  • Butrans
  • Temgesic
  • Buprenex
  • Norspan

It’s also included in other ORT medications, like Suboxone. This is a very informative video that gives a complete overview of Buprenorphine:

In most cases, people who take buprenorphine are using it as a way to transition from street drugs, such as heroin. However, there are those who will switch to it after being addicted to prescription opioids like Vicodin or Oxycodone. It works very well when it is used as intended.

This medication should never be considered the only way to recover from an addiction. Unfortunately, far too many people place all of their hope in buprenorphine. It should be used as a tool, along with therapy and a solid addiction recovery program.


Your body naturally creates its own opioids, which will attach to your opioid receptors. It usually does this in response to sensations of pain. It’s your body’s way of treating your pain without any outside interference. Sometimes it works really well, but people often need to take opioid medications to find the relief they’re looking for.

When you take an opioid drug, your receptors send a message to the brain that communicates pain relief. There are other sensations that will accompany what you experience. You may notice that you have increased levels of euphoria as a result as well. This happens because the medications will also cause the release of excess dopamine. This is the chemical you naturally experience whenever something good happens in your life.

The increased dopamine levels can become addicting, and this is why people continue to take opioid drugs or medications. They crave that sensation, and after some time has gone by, they don’t feel right without it.

If you’re looking for a helpful, scientific video about how opioids work in the brain, this is a good one:

Buprenorphine is a medication that can be used to treat pain. It’s most often used for those who have a history of opioid addiction, but who have chronic or severe pain.

One of the benefits of this drug is that it does have a ceiling effect. That means that there comes a point in taking it when it’s opioid-like effects stop working. This makes it quite a big different from other drugs. It could also make it the perfect option for doctors looking for opioid pain relief with a lower risk of addiction.

Buprenorphine Side Effects

This drug does carry a list of common side effects. Many of these will go away once the body adjusts to the medication. Others may persist, but most people feel that the benefits outweigh them.

The typical side effects of buprenorphine include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Problems with falling asleep or staying asleep

There are some more serious side effects that you should watch for.

If you experience any of these, please let your doctor know:

  • Slower breathing than normal
  • Problems with swallowing
  • Hives or a skin rash
  • Intense itching
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Loss of appetite


How do Partial Opioid Agonists Work?

Because buprenorphine is an opioid, it works the same way that other opioid drugs work in the brain. It will attach to the body’s opioid receptors to produce sensations of euphoria, pain relief and overall happiness.

For someone who is addicted to heroin, buprenorphine will attach to the opioid receptors. But it works as a partial opioid agonist to block any other opioid drugs from attaching. This means that even if someone were to use another substance, it wouldn’t have any effect. This is part of what makes it such an effective tool during recovery.


There are a lot of differences between buprenorphine and other, similar medications. This is a drug that is supposed to be very difficult to abuse because of its ceiling effect. It’s also much weaker than other opioid medications, which is a great benefit of it.

The bottom line is that the goal of placing a patient on buprenorphine is either to help with recovery, or prevent addiction. This sets it apart from other medications or drugs in its classification.


There is a big debate between buprenorphine and suboxone that has been discussed for years. These medications are very similar to one another, but there are some differences between them too.

Suboxone contains an added ingredient called Naloxone, in addition to buprenorphine. This alone makes it much harder to abuse. Both drugs are Schedule III controlled substances. They both last about the same amount of time in the body and are prescribed to aid in opioid addiction recovery, primarily. Both medications appear to be equally effective.

Many doctors will place their patients on both drugs at different times. They may start them on buprenorphine for a few days, and then switch them to Suboxone afterwards.

The Importance of Buprenorphine in Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Buprenorphine has become an important tool in combating our country’s opioid epidemic. All across the country, doctors are relying on it, as well as other medications to get people off these drugs.

An article in the NY Times states that, “Opioid overdoses are killing so many Americans that demographers say that they are likely behind a striking drop in life expectancy. Yet most of the more than two million people addicted to opioid painkillers, heroin and synthetic fentanyl get no treatment.” The goal is to fix this problem.

The article goes on to introduce Dr. Nicole Gastala, a family doctor who is attempting to do her part. She has increased the number of patients she sees for addiction treatment into her schedule each day. There are no doubt many like her all over the country.

Make no mistake – buprenorphine can be a big part of the answer to the opioid crisis in the United States. The issue is that patients cannot be left on the drug for too long. They need to be receiving therapy at the same time, and the drug should not be overprescribed.


Needless to say, the opioid crisis has gotten out of hand. The National Institute on Drug Abuse Reports that:

  • Anywhere between 21% and 29% of patients with an opioids prescription for pain will abuse them.
  • Between 8% and 12% of these individuals will go on to develop an opioid use disorder.
  • Between 4% and 6% of people who abuse their painkillers will eventually move on to heroin.
  • It’s been proven that 80% of heroin addicts first misuse their opioid pain pills.
  • In some parts of the country, there has been a 70% increase in opioid overdoses between July 2016 and September 2017.

In 2015, there were more than 33,000 people in the United States who died as a result of an opioid overdose. Many of these included prescription medications. The crisis we’re facing is, indeed, very real.

Is There a Risk of Transitioning From Buprenorphine to Heroin?

Many people who take buprenorphine were once heroin addicts. There is a very real risk for them of returning to using illegal opioids if they stay on this medication too long.

Because of our country’s opioid crisis, doctors are becoming more aware of the dangerous nature of these drugs. Most of them are afraid to leave their patients on them for too long. For someone who becomes dependent on buprenorphine, this can present a big problem for them; one that drives them back to heroin.

As we mentioned previously, many people who use heroin first used a prescribed opioid. For them, it often seems like the logical solution when they’re craving these types of drugs. It’s often cheaper, and it’s much more available to them because they can buy it on the street.

Breaking the Cycle and Recovering From Your Buprenorphine Addiction

It is our hope that after reading all of this information, you now have the desire to break the cycle. You may not have even realized you were addicted to buprenorphine up until this point. If you’re realizing that you are, the best way to stop is to get professional help.

When you’re addicted to buprenorphine, you’re addicted to an opioid drug that’s just like heroin or Vicodin. It’s a very strong mental and physical addiction that needs to be treated. It’s important for you to know what you can expect going forward.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

When you stop taking buprenorphine, you will encounter withdrawal symptoms. This is your body’s way of responding to the absence of the drug. These symptoms can be physical and psychological, and usually, people experience a combination of both.

Some of the more common symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Feeling easily agitated or angered
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Achiness in your muscles or joints
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • A runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Excessive yawning
  • Symptoms of diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea and vomiting

Buprenorphine was designed to be a drug that would work your system for a long time. Its effects can last as long as eight hours, and some people experience them for a few days after a dose. That means that it has a longer half-life than other opioid medications. As a result, it can take longer to be eliminated from your system.

Buprenorphine’s half-life is between 24 to 48 hours. This means that it takes this amount of time for half of the drug to leave your body. Once that time has expired, your body begins working on processing the next half. This will continue until there are no more traces of it in your system.

Tests indicate that buprenorphine may remain detectable in urine for as long as six days after the last dose. This can very from person to person, based on different factors.


Because this drug has such a long half-life, withdrawal may last longer for it than some other opioid medications. You may find that you have a difficult time coming off it, but it’s easier when you have professional support.

You might find that your buprenorphine withdrawal timeline looks similar to this:

  • For the first few days, your symptoms may be mild. You may only have a few of them, such as diarrhea and some nausea.
  • Symptoms will increase in severity as you get closer to the end of the third day. You may notice new ones that you didn’t have when you first quit.
  • After the third day, your symptoms will have reached the peak. However, you may still notice body pain and cravings. You may be irritable and depressed through the first week.
  • You’ll begin to feel better during the second week of withdrawal. You may have a hard time motivating yourself to complete tasks, and cravings will persist.
  • By the third week, you should notice that many of your symptoms have disappeared. Some may persist, such as depression and irritability. However, your cravings should be minimal.


You now know how hard it is to withdraw from opioid drugs like buprenorphine. But, can opioid withdrawal kill you?

The answer is, yes.

It’s possible to experience complications that are related to your cessation of opioid drugs. You may experience extreme vomiting and diarrhea that can result in dehydration, which is a fatal condition if left untreated. You may also experience elevated blood sodium levels, which could result in heart failure. Some people will also experience seizures during the detox phase, which can be life threatening.

This is one reason why it’s not a good idea for anyone to detox from opioids on their own. You never know if you’re at risk for a complication that could end up taking your life.

Your Options for Detoxing From Buprenorphine

The very first step you’ll take in your buprenorphine recovery is to go through the detox process. You’ll want to take the time to get this drug out of your system and treat your withdrawal symptoms. There are a few different ways you can accomplish this.


Today it seems as though there is a big shift toward everything natural. This includes home remedies for opioid withdrawal. You can find recommendations for everything from Ayurvedic medicine and chiropractic care to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

The most common recommendation is to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids. Gatorade is highly advised to replace electrolytes that may be lost due to vomiting or diarrhea.

These all sound good, and many people think they’re worth a try before investing in a professional detox program. The reality is that there are no natural remedies for opioid withdrawal that have proven to be effective. In fact, these may do more harm than good if you end up with a complication. It’s best to stick to the professional method of recovering.


In the same way, drug detox kits are often marketed as being the best alternative to opioid detox. They may promise great results, but few are able to follow through on that promise.

A drug detox kit usually ends up being little more than a drain on the wallet. They are not FDA approved, and therefore, shouldn’t be thought of as safe.


The best way to get through withdrawal is to attend an opioid detox program. This is a professional facility where you can get real help for your symptoms. The staff have all been trained on the best methods to use for withdrawal. You can trust that you’re in good hands with this type of facility.

Everyone is different, as far as what types of withdrawal treatments will work for them. You may find that you receive a combination of the following forms of treatment.

Medical Detox

Because you’re recovering from an opioid addiction, you’ll probably experience some form of medical detox. This means that you may be given medications to help you through your withdrawal symptoms.

There are different drugs that have been approved to treat opioid withdrawal, as you know. When you’re recovering from an addiction to a drug like buprenorphine, another opioid isn’t always the best option. In your case, you may just be exchanging one addiction for another.

Your doctor may talk to you about their Vivitrol services. Vivitrol is one of the newest forms of medication assisted treatment on the market. It is not an opioid drug, but it does treat that type of addiction. Many people have experienced dramatic results because of it, which makes it something you may want to consider.

Holistic Detox and Withdrawal Treatments

Holistic detox programs are becoming more common because there are natural therapies that can help with addiction recovery. You may find that making some simple changes in your everyday life works wonders for how you progress during detox.

For instance, many opioid addicts don’t eat the right kinds of food. They often are deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals. The first course of action may be to get you to see a nutrition therapist to talk about your diet. You’ll be amazed at how much different you feel when you give your body the fuel it needs to function well. You may also begin a regular exercise regimen to further improve your overall health.


The Importance of Opioid Rehab After Detoxing

Your detox program should take about a week to ten days to complete, although some may take longer. Afterwards, it’s important to continue your treatment by going to some type of addiction rehab center. This might be an inpatient program or an outpatient facility. The staff will talk with you about what would be best for you.

Regardless, please don’t skip this important step. It’s vital for you to get help for the psychological aspect of your addiction, which is what rehab will do.

How do You Know if Rehab is Right for You?

At this point, you might be unsure about whether rehab is right for you. There is a good chance that if you’re addicted to buprenorphine that it is, and we’ll tell you why.

Taking buprenorphine means that you probably have a history of addiction. It’s very likely that you’ve been to treatment before, or that you’ve tried to quit another substance before. Right now, you may be working your way through a dangerous addiction cycle. Getting the right kind of help may help you break that cycle and give you a chance at being successful long-term.


There are no experts who recommend quitting buprenorphine without treatment. It’s simply too risky. If you try, you could eventually suffer from a relapse, which could lead to an overdose.

At the very least, you’d be participating in your brain’s addiction cycle. You would be reinforcing the false belief that you need drugs to be OK. Going to treatment can help you learn new ways to think, which will benefit you in many areas of your life.


If you relapse on buprenorphine, you could be putting yourself at risk for an overdose. It’s not easy to overdose on this medication, but people have done it. In many ways, this type of overdose is different for this drug than for other opioids.

If you take too much buprenorphine, your symptoms may be difficult to reverse because of the way the drug works in the body. You may notice that you experience:

  • Extreme sedation
  • Depressed breathing
  • Fainting spells
  • Clammy skin
  • Weakness in your body
  • A low blood pressure

You may even fall into a coma, or taking too much of this drug could be fatal. You will want to avoid overdosing on it at all costs. The best way to do that is to get treatment and learn how you can avoid a relapse.


People in need of buprenorphine treatment no longer have to worry about how they can afford to get it. Thanks to The Affordable Care Act, their health insurance offers benefits to help pay for it. Many people will find that their insurance covers it completely. Others may only need to pay a small amount of money out of pocket in the form of a co-pay.


If you don’t have health insurance, you may want to consider one of the many free rehabs in our country. These programs offer grants made possible by SAMHSA for people without health insurance.

Get Help With Our Buprenorphine Addiction Treatment Program

If you have buprenorphine addiction, getting help should be your highest priority. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you need to recover from an addiction. At AspenRidge Fort Collins, we want you to know that we’re here for you every step of the way.

We’re not saying that it’s going to be easy. In fact, your recovery may be the biggest challenge you ever take on. But we are saying that it will be very rewarding for you to find freedom from this dangerous medication. Our program can assist you, and we can offer you help for both the physical and mental parts of your addiction.

Are you ready to get help through our buprenorphine addiction treatment program? Please let us know by contacting us at 866-957-6941 today.

GET HELP WITH burpenorphine ADDICTION treatment TODAY

The admissions process to our buprenorphine addiction treatment can be smooth with the help of our counselors. They’ll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.