Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services
Airport Executive Plaza
1321 Murfreesboro Pike Suite 155
Nashville, TN 37217
Phone: 615-780-5901 firstname.lastname@example.org
Things You Need To Know
What is buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine (‘bup’, ‘B’) is available by
prescription, under the name of Subutex, as a treatment for Opioid
dependence. It has been found to be effective in reducing the need
to continue using Opioids (buprenorphine maintenance) and also in
helping people to withdraw.
The effectiveness of any treatment,
including for heroin or other Opioid dependency (addiction), is
more likely to be successful if it is part of a comprehensive
treatment program. Often, a range of factors contributes to an
individual’s use of drugs. Thus, it is strongly recommended that
those wanting to remain free of heroin engage in a treatment
program that addresses the physical (the body), psychological (the
mind) and environmental issues relating to the person’s drug use.
This may involve combining several treatment approaches, such as
buprenorphine maintenance, counseling, alternative or holistic
therapies such as massage and naturopathic treatment; and
developing a positive support network including peers, family and
friends and support groups.
Advantages of buprenorphine maintenance treatment
There are many benefits of being on
buprenorphine maintenance, when compared with continuing the use
Buprenorphine is generally well tolerated;
however, some side effects have been
Before a person commences any drug
treatment program, it is important that all the relevant
information has been explained to them by a qualified health
professional and, where appropriate, to carergivers such as
family, friends etc. This includes the length of the program, how
much it costs, what other supports are included or recommended,
all the risks and side effects, and any other health issues to
consider. When deciding on the suitability of buprenorphine
maintenance, the following issues should also be discussed with a
How is buprenorphine taken?
A Subutex tablet must be placed under the
tongue and allowed to dissolve. Chewing or swallowing the tablet
will make it ineffective. Injecting Subutex is dangerous, and can
lead to severe vein damage, blood clots and other health
What is the right dosage?
The dosage of buprenorphine often varies for each person. As a guide, doses range from 4 milligrams to 32 milligrams per day for people with heroin dependence. A health practitioner should be informed of any side effects that are experienced, so that the dosage can be adjusted where appropriate. When first starting on buprenorphine maintenance, it may take a number of days (typically from three to seven days) for the effects of buprenorphine to become stable in the body. Continuing heroin use can make it difficult for the person to stabilize.
If a person misses their buprenorphine doses for more than five days in a row, they will need to undergo a review by the prescribing health professional. If this occurs, it is recommended that the person start again on a lower dose of buprenorphine.
Using buprenorphine with other drugs
Combining the use of any drugs can increase
or alter the effects that are usually experienced from using the
individual drug. It is often difficult to predict the consequences
of combining the use of different drugs.
Phases of treatment
The stabilization phase has begun when a patient has discontinued or greatly reduced the use of his or her drug of abuse, no longer has cravings, and is experiencing few or no side effects. The buprenorphine dose may need to be adjusted during the stabilization phase. Because of the long half-life of buprenorphine it is sometimes possible to switch patients to alternate-day dosing once stabilization has been achieved.
The maintenance phase is reached when the patient is doing well on a steady dose of buprenorphine (or buprenorphine/naloxone). The length of time of the maintenance phase is individualized for each patient and may be indefinite. The alternative to going into (or continuing) a maintenance phase, once stabilization has been achieved, is medically supervised withdrawal. This takes the place of what was formerly called “detoxification.”
Withdrawal from long-term use of
buprenorphine may produce symptoms similar to those experienced
from heroin withdrawal. However, withdrawal symptoms tend to be
milder with buprenorphine than those from methadone and other
Where can I get buprenorphine and what does it cost?
Buprenorphine may only be prescribed by a doctor who has a permit from the Department of Human Services (DHS). Like methadone, buprenorphine is subject to a dispensing fee, currently about $5.00 per dose.
Revised 03/04 Source:
Drug Info Clearinghouse and ADF, Inc.
TAADAS Meetings are held the 2nd Thursday each month 1 PM - 3 PM at the TAADAS office building 2nd floor.