Buprenorphine was first marketed in the 1980s as a pain reliever. Since then several types of buprenorphines, such as Suboxone and Subutex, have been synthesized and approved by the FDA for use in treating opioid dependency in the United States. Recently buprenorphine has been introduced to other countries for use in chronic pain.

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid prescription medication used to treat patients addicted to heroin or other opiates. Considerably less addictive than methadone, buprenorphine relieves the symptoms of opiate withdrawal such as nausea, insomnia and agitation. Buprenorphine is a derivative of thebaine, an opiate alkaloid stimulant. Thebaine is chemically similar to cocaine or morphine, but is 25-40 times as potent. Buprenorphine is sold under the brand name Subutex®. Its intended use is for the initial phases of opioid dependency treatment. Suboxone®, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is to be used as maintenance treatment for opiate addiction.

As a drug of abuse, the effects of buprenorphines are similar to that of other opiates, and are often used as an alternative to such drugs as heroin or cocaine. Not only do they also produce a sense of euphoria and pain relief, it is slightly less addictive than methadone.

Common adverse effects associated with the use of buprenorphines are very similar to those of other opioids. These can include dizziness, headaches, perspiration, itchiness, decreased libido, urinary retention and problems with male ejaculation, nausea, vomiting, constricted pupils, drowsiness and dry mouth. Other side effects can include mood swings, cold or flu-like symptoms, difficulty breathing and insomnia. These effects can worsen or become life threatening, especially if buprenorphine is used in conjunction with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants. Overdose effects on buprenorphines are extremely possible and very difficult to reverse. These can include difficulty breathing, clammy skin, convulsions, a comatose state and possible death.

Withdrawal symptoms can consist of a loss of apetite, irritability, nausea, cramps, chills, perspiration, panic attacks, drowsiness, and cold or flu-like symptoms.

Buprenorphine Street Names

  • Bupe
  • Subbies
  • Temmies