Buprenorphine is a prescription medication used in detoxification as an opioid-replacement for heroin and prescription painkiller addictions. Approved by the Food Drug Administration in 2002, it was utilized as a tool for medically-assisted treatment (MAT) and is now used in combination with behavioral therapies to provide clients help with their opioid addictions and relapse prevention. Although normally taken orally, buprenorphine can also be taken intravenously or via a transdermal patch. Its most popular form is through Suboxone tablets, a controlled substance that contains buprenorphine along with the opioid adversary naloxone, which is used as an alternative to methadone in opioid replacement therapies. Because buprenorphine is a partial agonist opioid receptor modulator, the advantages of using buprenorphine or Suboxone in opioid replacement treatment lie in the fact that both negate respiratory depression caused by opioid abuse or overdose.
While both buprenorphine and Suboxone carry some risks of causing psychological and physical dependence—especially for people who are non-dependent on opioids—under careful medical supervision, both medications, in recommended dosages, do not achieve the same euphoric high that is experienced when using opioids. This allows for opioid detoxification to have relatively low withdrawal effects while also having a lower potential for misuse and physical dependence by the client. Whether an opioid substance abuser uses buprenorphine or Suboxone, undergoing drug detox therapy would require medical supervision and drug rehab treatment. Both medications are used as a tool for addicts to endure withdrawal and begin the steps to recovery and eventually a life of sobriety.