Buprenorphine is a prescription drug made under the brand names of Suboxone® and Subutex®. Buprenorphine, also referred to as "Bupe", helps people to stop using heroin or other opioid drugs. Opioid drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone,k are included in prescription pain pills such as Percocet®, OxyContin®, Lortab® and Vicodin®. Buprenorphine can be used for detoxification or for a longer period of time to help people who are addicted to opioid drugs and to help people who want to stop using these drugs.
People who use heroin or other opioids may be at risk for the following:
- Overdose - Drug overdose is a significant problem in the United States. Recent data indicate that more than 1,300 fatalities resulted from drug overdoses in New York State during 2006.
- Arrest - Using heroin and unprescribed drugs is illegal. Because people may resort to illegal activities to obtain these drugs, the risks involved with doing this include arrest and even serving jail time.
- HIV, STDs and hepatitis C - People who are in withdrawal and feeling ill are more likely to share needles and have unprotected sex. People who use opioids are more likely to engage in sexual risk behaviors that could lead to acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Additionally, people who share needles may increase their changes of contracting hepatitis C and/or HIV.
Buprenorphine may be an appropriate treatment for people who are dependent on opioids, such as heroin and prescription drugs. Buprenorphine stops cravings, blocks withdrawal symptoms to prevent "dope sickness" and blocks the "high" from heroin and other opioids. Because buprenorphine helps with withdrawal and cravings, it can help to protect people from risky behaviors and can lower the chance of someone having an overdose. Additionally, people who are dependent on opioids and living with a chronic disease (e.g., HIV) are more likely to adhere to their chronic disease treatment and have better health outcomes if they are on buprenorphine treatment.
Consumers who would like to find out more information about buprenorphine, or to find a doctor who prescribes buprenorphine, should call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-866-287-2728.
Resources for Providers
- NYS Department of Health, Burprenorphine Mentorship
- "Attention Doctors: How You Can Help Patients with Opioid Addiction" (Brochure)
- New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services