Buprenorphine or buprenorphine/naloxone, a prescription drug, also referred to as "Bupe", helps people to stop using heroin or other opioid drugs. Opioid drugs, such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, 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 - In 2012, there were 1,848 deaths throughout the state caused by a drug overdose.  Opioid analgesics were involved in 879 of these deaths.
  • 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 in New York State who would like to find out more information about buprenorphine, or to find a doctor who prescribes buprenorphine, can call the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY.  The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) also has a treatment locator at 1-866-287-2728.

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