Buprenorphine, also known under brand names Suboxone, Zubsolv and Subutex (FDA-approved for addiction treatment) and Butrans and Belbuca (FDA-approved for pain treatment), is a controlled medication available only by prescription from a specially-certified physician or physician assistant. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial-agonist which effectively substitutes for regular opiates and typically stabilizes the opioid system so the patient can feel “normal,” suffer less, and function better.
While not a cure for opioid addiction, substituting buprenorphine for a full agonist opioid (such as most opioid pain medications and heroin) often stabilizes a person’s brain chemistry, stops the development of further opioid tolerance, and buys time so that the person can get their life and health together in preparation for getting off opioids altogether.
Buprenorphine has other favorable pharmacologic properties and is well-tolerated by most. It is part of a harm reduction strategy and we have found it to be an extremely helpful adjunct to comprehensive treatment of opioid addiction.
There are also many nuances and controversies about treatment methods such as Suboxone, which we discuss with our patients in detail before they move forward with a recommended treatment plan.
What Kinds of Opioid Addiction Do We Treat?
The opioid medications and drugs most commonly misused in the United States include:
- Hydrocodone (Norco, Vicodin)
- Oxycodone (Percoset, Roxicodone, OxyContin)
- Tramadol (Ultram)
- Ultram / tramadol
- Kratom (opioid agonist also with other effects)