Buprenorphine - a heads up
Bup is usually prescribed by a doctor as a replacement for heroin and to "get off" opiates, but it is also sometimes 'diverted' and used illegally.
Buprenorphine is prescribed as a legal replacement for heroin, to help reduce the harm of illegal heroin use. It is also often prescribed to help heroin withdrawal. It is sometimes called Bup or B. Since its a prescribed medication, it's usually available by seeing a doctor and then collecting it from a pharmacy. Some people use Bup that was prescribed for other people.
In Australia buprenorphine generally comes in a tablet form or a film which is often crushed to dissolve more easily. Tablets are placed under the tongue to dissolve. Chewing or swallowing the tablet makes it less effective. Using buprenorphine gives you similar effects to other opiates such as feelings of warmth, wellbeing, relaxation and sleepiness as well as nausea and sweating.
Buprenorphine is an opioid like heroin, but it has a slightly different effect compared to heroin and methadone. If you are used to using opiates you don’t get as strong a hit and the effects seem to even off after certain amount even at higher doses. It’s important to know that if you’ve still got opiates in your system when you take Bup, you might get some withdrawal symptoms.
If you’ve had too much buprenorphine, you might have shallow or difficult breathing, bluish nails and lips, or an inability to be roused or woken. An ambulance should be called if any of these happen. It’s also important to know that if you use alcohol, marijuana and other depressants at the same time as Bup, overdosing is more likely.
If you use buprenorphine, then if nothing else, make sure you know these ways to be as safe as possible.
- Follow directions from your prescribing doctor-especially when just starting treatment.
- Avoid injecting, especially when diverted from oral administration
- Avoid mixing with other drugs, especially alcohol and other opiates
Want more? This info is the bare minimum to give you the heads up - the ADF Fact Sheet has heaps more info.