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Is Buprenorphine the new cure for drug withdrawal?

The Federal Government recently increased the total number of patients that doctors are allowed to prescribe buprenorphine to. Up until now, physicians certified to prescribe the drug were limited to 30 patients, but that has recently been changed to 100.

Buprenorphine is a synthetic opiate agonist/antagonist, meaning in smaller amounts it actually blocks some of the withdrawal effects and limits the sensation of being “high”. In larger amounts it still has the opiate properties and painkilling effects as other drugs in this class. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October of 2002.

When being prescribed buprenorphine (brand names include Suboxone and Subutex) on an outpatient basis or in a medical detox setting, the drug is administered to people coming down from opiates such as heroin, oxycontin and methadone over a short period of time to decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

However, some doctors have begun using it as a maintenance drug, much like methadone is used, and both chronic pain patients as well as opiate addicts are finding the darker side of the drug, because it’s still in the opiate family.

While many in the addiction treatment field have been quick to jump on the buprenorphine bandwagon, others say the jury is still out on whether or not this could wind up like another methadone.

We feel that in some limited cases, drugs like buprenorphine may be used for a short period of time, but the ultimate goal of the rehabilitation process would be to get off all drugs.

Article by Eric

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