Buprenorphine, also known and sold under the trade names of Belbuca and Subutex, is a drug that belongs to the group of narcotic analgesic. Narcotic analgesic are drugs used to relive pain, they work by binding with opioid receptors, which are present in the central and peripheral nervous system.
Buprenorphine is used in the treatment for addiction to drugs (opioids). It helps preventing the withdraw symptoms as a part of a complete treatment to drug abuse.
2 What to Know Before Using
Before this medicine is prescribed by the doctor, the benefits from its usage must outweigh the potential risks.
This medicine is available only with a doctor’s prescription. You should consult your doctor to get informed about the benefits and the potential risks, as well as inform the doctor about:
Allergies – Inform the doctor if you have ever before used this medicine and had an allergic reaction to it. Also if you had ever had an allergic reaction to any other medicine from the group of narcotic analgesic, if used before. Inform the doctor about any other allergies that you have, also inform the healthcare professional about any allergies to food, dye, fabric, animals and etc.
Pediatric – There are not yet any studies done which could confirm the efficiency and potential risks if this medicine is used in pediatric patients.
Geriatric – Recent studies have confirmed that there are no limits in using this medicine in geriatric patients. However, many geriatric patients have liver or kidney problems, so when this medicine is used, the dose should be adjusted in a way that won’t result in a worsening the condition.
Pregnancy – There are no studies yet that confirm the efficiency and potential risks if this medicine is used during pregnancy.
Breastfeeding – Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. The usage of Buprenorphine during breastfeeding has shown harmful infant effects, because this medicine is extracted in the milk. If you are breastfeeding your doctor will need to prescribe an alternative to this medication.
Drug interactions – It is known that sometimes using two or more medicines in a combination can and will occur harmful effects, but sometimes a combination of two or more medicines can be used in order to increase the efficiency of the treatment. Always remember to tell your doctor and healthcare professional if you are using any other prescribed or no prescribed medications. For example, using Buprenorphine in a combination with Naltrexone is not recommended, so if you are using this medicine, the doctor should find an alternative to Buprenorphine. Also, using Buprenorphine in a combination with any of the following medicines it is not recommended, but it can be used if it is necessary: Alfentanil. Atazanavir, Alprazolam, Baclofen, Clobazam, Diazepam and many others. For a complete list, contact your doctor.
Diet, usage of alcohol and tobacco – While you are on the treatment with this medicine a special diet may be recommended, also the usage of alcohol and tobacco can require a consult with your doctor with further instructions.
Other medical problems – Tell you doctor if you have any other medical problems, using this medicine while any of the following medical condition is present can cause worsening of your condition. Inform your doctor if you have/or ever had: Addison disease, Alcohol abuse, Brain tumor, Breathing problems, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Gallbladder disease or gallstones, Head injury, Heart problems, Hepatitis B or C, Hypokalemia, Hypomagnesaemia, Hypovolemia, Hypothyroidism, Hypotension, Constipation, Liver disease and etc.
Use this medicine as directed from the doctor. Remember to take it regularly, respecting the prescribed dose if you want to get the most beneficial effects from it.
This medicine can be applied by the doctor as a form of injection, but can be also used in a form of a tablet, taken orally – sublingual route. The tablet is usually taken once daily, placed under the tongue for 5 to 10 minutes to dissolve completely. If you are prescribed more than one tablet a day, place the tablets under your tongue at the same time.
The dose is prescribed accordingly to your condition and your response to the medications.
If Buprenorphine is used for a long time, withdrawal symptoms may occur, e.g. nausea, sweating, muscle pain, headache and etc. The doctor may reduce the dose.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, but if it is soon time to take the next dose, wait until it is time for the next one. Do not double the dose.
If you suspect of an overdose e.g. symptoms of slow breathing, slow heartbeat and loss of consciousness contact your doctor right away.
4 Precautions To Take
Tell your doctor if you have any allergic reactions to any medications, food, fabric and etc. Also, inform the doctor about your medical history, your usage of any other medications and other medical problems, past and present.
This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Avoid driving and any activities that require alertness during the treatment. Avoid using alcohol.
During pregnancy, this medicine should be used only if it is necessary or it can be found another alternative to it. Women should not be breastfeeding during the treatment with Buprenorphine.
Inform yourself about the potential side effects and report its presence as soon as you notice. Also, this drug may cause withdraw symptoms to occur, which should be also reported to the doctor as soon as noticed.
5 Potential Side Effects
Along with the beneficial effects, Buprenorphine can cause harmful side effects, which should be reported to the doctor. Not all people have side effects, some have no or minor side effects.
• Most common side effects – Constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, nausea, sweating and vomiting. • Severe side effects – Severe allergic reactions (skin rash, itching, hives, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, hands, feet or tongue), anxiety, irregular heartbeat, pale stools, dark urine, vision changes. Other side effects may also occur. It is important to get informed about the potential side effects in order to be able to notice them and report ti the doctor in time.
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