Clinically Reviewed by Linda Whiteside, LPCC

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson, MD

Buprenorphine Addiction Treatment

Table of Contents

Buprenorphine is an opioid medication that can help people with opioid addiction but can also be addictive. How does this happen, and what can you do if you or someone you love struggles with buprenorphine addiction?

What is Buprenorphine?

Doctors prescribe buprenorphine for the medical treatment of opioid dependence and chronic pain. It comes in different forms, such as transdermal patches, sublingual tablets, sublingual films, and extended-release injections.

As an opioid partial agonist, buprenorphine binds to the same opioid receptors as other opioids but with less effect. This can reduce the cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms they experience when they stop using opioids.

It can also prevent or reverse the effects of full opioid agonists, such as heroin or oxycodone if taken while on buprenorphine. As a potent analgesic, it can also treat severe pain. 

However, it’s not recommended for acute pain that can be treated with other medications.

However, buprenorphine isn’t a harmless drug. As a Schedule III drug, it has a moderate potential for abuse and dependence.

Buprenorphine can only be dispensed by pharmacies or opioid treatment programs registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

If misused or abused, it can also cause dependence, addiction, and overdose. Buprenorphine addiction can seriously affect physical, mental, and social health.

Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with buprenorphine addiction.

Side Effects of Buprenorphine

While buprenorphine is generally safe and effective for treating opioid use disorder, it can also cause some side effects, such as:

  • Constipation

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Headache

  • Sweating

  • Sleep problems

  • Pain

If you experience any of these side effects, talk to your doctor about how to manage them.

Patients taking buprenorphine must use it as prescribed and store it safely away from others.

How Buprenorphine Addiction Develops

Buprenorphine addiction can develop in different ways, such as:

  • Taking buprenorphine without a prescription or in higher doses than prescribed

  • Mixing buprenorphine with other substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, or other opioids

  • Crushing, snorting, or injecting buprenorphine to get a stronger effect

  • Using buprenorphine to cope with stress, trauma, or emotional issues

What Are the Signs of Buprenorphine Addiction?

Some of the signs and symptoms of buprenorphine addiction are:

  • Craving buprenorphine and spending a lot of time and money obtaining it

  • Neglecting personal, professional, or social responsibilities because of buprenorphine use

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to reduce or quit buprenorphine use

  • Developing tolerance and needing more buprenorphine to get the same effect

  • Experiencing negative effects on physical health, such as constipation, nausea, drowsiness, life-threatening respiratory depression, or liver damage

  • Experiencing adverse effects on mental health, such as depression, anxiety, mood swings, or impaired cognition

  • Having trouble controlling or stopping buprenorphine use despite the negative consequences

Why Buprenorphine Addiction is a Concern

Buprenorphine addiction is a serious problem that can affect many aspects of one’s life. Some of the risks and complications of buprenorphine addiction are:

  • Buprenorphine overdose can occur if a person takes too much buprenorphine or mixes it with other substances that depress the central nervous system.

  • Injection can increase the risk of infection from contaminated needles or equipment.

  • Possession or distribution of buprenorphine without a prescription is illegal and can result in fines, arrests, or imprisonment.

  • Addiction can damage relationships with family, friends, co-workers, or employers.

  • It can also cause financial difficulties due to the cost of obtaining the drug or losing income due to poor performance at work or school.

Buprenorphine Treatment Approaches

Buprenorphine addiction is a treatable condition that requires a comprehensive and individualized approach. Some of the standard treatment approaches are:

Detoxification or Medically Supervised Withdrawal

Generally, the first step in recovery is to remove buprenorphine or other drugs from the body. You can do this by going through detox or medically supervised withdrawal.

Detoxification is the process of eliminating buprenorphine from the body while managing withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification can be conducted in an inpatient facility or outpatient, depending on the addiction level and support availability.

Counseling and Behavioral Therapy

Counseling and behavioral therapy are key components of buprenorphine treatment that help the person understand the causes and effects of the addiction, develop coping skills and strategies, and enhance self-esteem and confidence.

Behavioral therapies can be conducted individually, in groups, or with family members. Some of the common types of counseling and therapy are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – helps the person identify and challenge negative thoughts and beliefs fuelling their buprenorphine or opioid addiction and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.

  • Motivational Interviewing (MI) – helps the person explore and resolve their ambivalence about quitting buprenorphine.

  • Family Therapy – involves your family members or significant others in your treatment process.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines medications with traditional treatment methods to treat buprenorphine addiction.

MAT can help reduce withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and relapse risk. It can also improve the person’s physical and mental health, social functioning, and quality of life.

Some of the medications that can be used for MAT are:

Naloxone (often combined with buprenorphine in Suboxone)

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses opioid overdose.

This drug can be combined with buprenorphine in Suboxone. This partial opioid agonist activates the same receptors as opioids but with less effect.


Naltrexone is another opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of buprenorphine and other opioids and reduces cravings.


Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist that replaces buprenorphine and prevents withdrawal symptoms.

Holistic Approaches

Holistic approaches are complementary or alternative methods that can enhance buprenorphine treatment by addressing the person’s well-being’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects.

Holistic approaches can include:

Mindfulness and Meditation

Mindfulness and meditation divert attention to the present moment, such as one’s breath, body sensations, thoughts, or feelings.

These practices can help reduce stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and cravings; improve mood, concentration, memory, and self-awareness; and promote relaxation, calmness, and acceptance.

Yoga and Breathing Exercises

Yoga and breathing exercises involve various poses and movements while controlling one’s breath.

These exercises can help improve flexibility, strength, balance, posture, circulation, digestion, immunity, and sleep; reduce tension, inflammation, blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol levels.

Recovery and Maintenance: How to Stay on Track After Buprenorphine Treatment

You may wonder what comes next if you have completed an addiction treatment program. How can you maintain your recovery and prevent relapse? What are some of the challenges and opportunities that await you in your new life?

Relapse Prevention Strategies

Relapse is a typical and expected part of the recovery process.

Understanding your triggers and having a plan in place can make a significant difference in maintaining your progress. Here are key strategies to consider:

  • Recognize the situations, emotions, or environments that can lead to cravings or relapse.

  • Avoiding high-risk situations or places where you used to use buprenorphine or other drugs

  • Having a plan for how to deal with cravings or urges, such as calling a friend, distracting yourself, or using a coping skill

  • Practicing self-care, such as eating well, sleeping enough, exercising, and relaxing

  • Seeking professional help if you experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or trauma

  • Having a relapse prevention plan that outlines your goals, strategies, and resources for recovery

  • Create a toolbox of healthy coping mechanisms to deal with cravings and stress. Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, journaling, and engaging in hobbies can help you navigate challenging moments.

  • When cravings strike, reach out to a supportive friend, family member, or sponsor who can offer encouragement and distraction.

Support Groups and Community

Support groups are a cornerstone of addiction recovery, offering a safe space for individuals to connect, share experiences, and offer mutual encouragement.

In the context of buprenorphine addiction, these groups provide unique insights and strategies tailored to overcoming the challenges associated with this specific substance.

Peer support helps individuals realize they’re not alone in their journey and provides a platform for sharing coping mechanisms.

The bond formed within these groups can foster a sense of belonging and accountability, motivating individuals to stay on track.

Aftercare Planning

Recovery doesn’t end with detoxification or medication-assisted treatment. Aftercare planning is a crucial phase involving strategies to prevent relapse and maintain progress.

Effective aftercare involves a combination of therapeutic approaches, monitoring, and ongoing support. Aftercare plans generally include the following:

Continuation of Therapy

Therapy remains a cornerstone of aftercare, helping individuals address underlying psychological factors contributing to addiction.

Monitoring and Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups and monitoring appointments with healthcare professionals are essential in the aftercare phase.

These appointments ensure the medication dosage remains appropriate and provide opportunities to discuss any challenges or concerns.

Family and Social Support

The support of family and close friends can make a significant difference in the recovery journey. Their involvement helps individuals feel loved, understood, and motivated to maintain sobriety.

Educating the Family about Buprenorphine Addiction

Family members often want to help but might lack understanding of addiction and medication-assisted treatment.

One of the most important steps is to educate yourself and your family about buprenorphine addiction.

Learning about the causes, effects, risks, and treatment options can help you understand what your loved one is going through and how to support them.

You can find reliable information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), or your local addiction treatment center.

The Role of Family in the Recovery Process

Another key step is to recognize the role of the family in the recovery process. Family members can positively or negatively influence the behavior and motivation of a person with buprenorphine addiction.

Family members can help by:

  • Expressing love, care, and concern for the person

  • Encouraging them to seek professional help and follow their treatment plan

  • Providing practical and emotional support during and after treatment

  • Participating in family therapy or support groups to improve communication and coping skills

  • Setting healthy boundaries and expectations for the person

  • Avoiding enabling, blaming, shaming, or judging the person

Rehab for Buprenorphine Addiction: Finding the Right Path to Recovery

Recovering from any form of substance abuse often requires professional help, so finding the right rehab center is crucial to get your life back on track.

Here’s what you need to consider when choosing the right substance abuse treatment center:

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab means staying at a treatment facility, where you’ll receive round-the-clock care.

On the other hand, outpatient rehab allows you to live at home while attending treatment sessions. The choice depends on your individual needs and the severity of your addiction.

Specialized Buprenorphine Treatment Programs

Not all rehab centers are the same, and for buprenorphine treatment, you want to find one specializing in buprenorphine addiction or opioid addiction.

These centers understand the complexities of this medication and tailor treatment accordingly. Look for programs that have experience in treating opioid addiction using buprenorphine.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

Concerns about costs and insurance coverage are valid, but don’t let them discourage you from seeking help.

Substance abuse treatment programs can be expensive, especially inpatient treatment. However, many insurance plans cover substance abuse treatment, including buprenorphine addiction.

Check with your insurance provider about your coverage for addiction treatment. Some plans fully or partially cover rehab expenses, ensuring you can get the help you need without unnecessary financial stress.

Taking the Next Step: Reclaim Your Life with NuView Treatment Center

If you or someone you care about is struggling with buprenorphine addiction, know that hope and help are available.

At NuView Treatment Center, we specialize in providing compassionate and effective care for individuals seeking recovery from buprenorphine addiction.

Why Choose NuView Treatment Center?

  1. Specialized Expertise: Our team of medical professionals and addiction specialists is well-versed in treating buprenorphine addiction. We understand your challenges and are committed to guiding you toward lasting recovery.

  2. Individualized Care: We recognize that no two individuals are the same. That’s why we develop personalized treatment plans that address your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being.

  3. Safe and Supportive Environment: At NuView Treatment Center, you’ll find a safe and nurturing environment where you can heal and grow. Our facilities are designed to promote comfort and tranquility throughout your recovery journey.

  4. Comprehensive Approach: We offer a range of treatment modalities, from medically supervised detoxification to therapy and aftercare planning. We aim to equip you with the tools to build a fulfilling, substance-free life.

Reclaim Your Life with NuView Treatment Center

If you’re ready to break free from the chains of buprenorphine addiction, NuView Treatment Center is here to support you.

Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how we can assist you or your loved one in recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Buprenorphine Treatment

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.
Buprenorphine withdrawal duration varies, but it often starts within 72 hours of the last dose and may last up to a few weeks. Symptoms can include anxiety, nausea, and muscle aches.
While overdosing on buprenorphine is less likely than other opioids, it’s not impossible. Using more than prescribed can lead to respiratory depression and other serious effects.

Buprenorphine effectively reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it a valuable treatment. It’s less likely to cause euphoria and overdose compared to full opioids.

Buprenorphine can be used for long-term maintenance to prevent relapse. It helps stabilize individuals and reduces the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms.

Certain medications can interact with buprenorphine and may lead to adverse effects or reduced effectiveness of the treatment.

Medications to be cautious with include:

  • Benzodiazepines

  • Sedatives

  • Certain Antidepressants

  • Antipsychotic Medications

  • Muscle Relaxants

  • Certain Antibiotics

  • Other Opioids

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the safe use of buprenorphine and to determine if any of your current medications could interact with it.

Buprenorphine can be a safer option for pregnant individuals with opioid dependence to prevent neonatal abstinence syndrome in newborns. It’s important to consult a healthcare provider to determine the best approach.

Buprenorphine has a vital role in addressing the opioid crisis by providing a safer alternative for individuals with opioid use disorder. Its partial agonist nature and lower risk of overdose make it a valuable tool in reducing the harm associated with opioid misuse.

Ling, Walter. “Buprenorphine Implant for Opioid Addiction.” Pain Management, vol. 2, no. 4, Future Medicine Ltd, July 2012, pp. 345–50. Crossref

“Buprenorphine.” What Is Buprenorphine? | SAMHSA, 18 July 2023,

“Buprenorphine Dispensing by Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs).” Buprenorphine Dispensing by Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) | SAMHSA, 22 Mar. 2023,

“Buprenorphine (MOUD) Q&A.” Buprenorphine (MOUD) Q&

“FDA Approves New Buprenorphine Treatment Option for Opioid Use Disorder.” FDA Approves New Buprenorphine Treatment Option for Opioid Use Disorder | FDA, 23 May 2023,

Latest posts

Share this post


Leave a comment

Written By: Linda Whiteside

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Read More

Addiction & Recovery

Did you know that we are always here for you 24/7?

You don't have to try to cope with life and addiction all on your own. Reach out to us now, no matter the time of day or night, even if you're not sure what you want to do yet and just need someone to listen.

We understand what you're going through and we can help you or a loved one survive addiction and find happiness in your life again.

Fill out the form below and we will contact you soon or call us any time at (323) 307-7997.
Contact Form - Blog

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction? We can help!

Our advisors are waiting for your call: (323) 307-7997

Ready to get Help?