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Buprenorphine Injection

Buprenorphine Injection, Uses, Effectiveness, Opioid Detox & Addiction Treatment

Injectable Buprenorphine

A newly published news release from National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests the long-acting buprenorphine formulation BUP-XR is more effective than placebo in helping patients struggling with addiction to opioids. BUP-XR is a monthly extended-release buprenorphine injection. [1]

Buprenorphine is able to activate opioid receptors and relieve cravings without eliciting any surge of euphoria. Being an opioid itself, it is able to fulfill the receptors’ physical need to be stimulated but does so without generating feelings of euphoria (the main cause of opioid addiction-forming behavior). What makes it even more useful is the limits in the effect this partial opioid can exert on these receptors. This ensures that no high can be achieved, effectively eliminating the likelihood of being abused, and also limits the effects of other opioids that are taken.

This medication functions similarly to methadone treatment, another opioid antagonist that is commonly used to treat opioid dependence. However, methadone has recently fallen out of favor as a treatment for opioid addiction due to its potential for being habit-forming. As such, it has largely been replaced in favor of buprenorphine in addiction treatment settings.

Buprenorphine Injection Uses

Daily dose buprenorphine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002 and has proven to be effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD). However, daily doses require patients to recommit to taking medication every day and can result in cravings near the end of the 24-hour cycle. Although the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) did not fund this current study, it did support the development of buprenorphine as a treatment for OUD.

Buprenorphine Injection
Buprenorphine extended-release injection is only available through a special distribution program called Sublocade REMS. 

In November of 2017, the FDA approved the use of extended-release buprenorphine (BUP-XR) under the brand name Sublocade* as a monthly long-acting injection, based on positive results in a Phase III human subjects study. While data that underlie FDA approval decisions are proprietary and not always available to the public, the study has now been published in The Lancet to make it available to the wider scientific community.

Opioid Use Disorder

Opioids are a powerful class of naturally occurring and synthetic drugs. These types of drugs are widely used for their pain management capabilities and are commonplace in the management of moderate and severe (and often chronic) pain. However, due to the nature of how opioids affect the body, opioids can cause sedative and euphoria-inducing effects which have made them a target of abuse.

Both the illegal types of opioids (heroin, fentanyl) and legal varieties (codeine, oxycodone,  hydrocodone) have become popular recreational drugs. The number of opioid-related fatalities has skyrocketed in the recent decade, accounting for nearly 70% of drug-related overdoses in 2018 [2]. Unfortunately, the hundreds of thousands of individuals who are already physically dependent on these substances must face the reality of opioid detox, withdrawal, and rehab if they are going to get their recovery on track and build a better life.

There is a wide array of opioids present in America. Some are prescription drugs used in a medical setting to manage severe pain, whereas others are illicitly-made and abused. Learn more about some of the most common and dangerous opioid addictions.

Danger of Fentanyl

A great controversy surrounding fentanyl is its associated high risk of a drug overdose. Even prescription fentanyl comes with warnings because of how powerful the substance is. However, illicit fentanyl is particularly dangerous due to the unknowns about how the substance was made. A single dose of fentanyl can have devastating effects, but it is the continued, uncontrolled use that carries the most risk. Additionally, the possibility of an overdose increases significantly when fentanyl is used along with other substances, such as heroin and alcohol.

Effects of Heroin

The euphoric and pain-relieving effects of heroin are one of the main reasons why people use the substance. In addition to these effects, using heroin can lead to a number of unpleasant changes in the mind and body. Depending on the individual and the dosage, the effects felt may be slightly different. The effects that one could anticipate are similar to other opioids and include:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Dependence and addiction
  • Respiratory distress
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Overdose
  • Death
Your doctor and your pharmacy must be enrolled in Sublocade REMS program before you can receive a buprenorphine injection. 


Heroin is a highly addictive opiate-based schedule II substance. The possession and use of heroin are illegal in all 50 states. Heroin addiction is extremely dangerous due to its highly addictive nature as well as the fact that it carries a high risk of overdosing or contracting a communicable disease. Although many will never escape the grips of heroin, it is possible and there is hope. The best chance at recovery is through an opioid detox and treatment program.


Naloxone is the generic name of a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It works by attaching itself to the same receptors occupied by the harmful opioids and taking their place. By disrupting the connection between the harmful opioid and the receptor, the negative effects of an overdose can immediately be reversed. This can be life-saving, namely by restoring the ability to breathe.

Naloxone treatment is available as an injectable liquid and as a nasal spray. with the most common brand names include Narcan and Evizo. This medication is only effective if administered when an overdose is occurring and cannot be used pre-emptively to prevent an opioid overdose.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for the treatment of substance use disorders. A combination of medication and behavioral therapies is effective in the treatment of substance use disorders and can help some people to sustain recovery. Buprenorphine/naloxone is a medication that works in the brain to treat opioid use disorder. Opioids include heroin and prescription pain relievers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl.

Buprenorphine is the active drug in buprenorphine/naloxone. It also has a “ceiling effect” so the opioid effects level off even with further dose increases which reduces the risk of misuse, dependency, and side effects. Buprenorphine lowers the effects of opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings to use opioids without having full opioid potency or effects. This helps people who take the medication abstain from other opioids.

Opioid Detox And Addiction Treatment

The opiate detoxification process is not exactly the same as detoxing from other addictive substances, such as alcohol or cocaine. The withdrawal symptoms are different and often, there are medications used to help minimize the physical withdrawal symptoms and to prevent the intense cravings that accompany opioid detox. Detox from heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids is a closely managed process and often the same or similar medications are continued to be used following detox.

The opioid detox process will be different for individuals who are detoxing via medically assisted treatment versus abstinence.

Buprenorphine extended-release (long-acting) injection comes as a solution (liquid) to be injected subcutaneously (just under the skin) by a health care provider into the stomach area.

Medications such as Subutex and Suboxone have been officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exclusively to treat opioid dependence. [3] These new medications have opened up various opioid detox treatment methods.

  • Buprenorphine – Buprenorphine injection is prescribed to reduce the span of time it takes for opioid detox and assists an individual in upholding prolonged abstinence from opioids. The commonly used brand name of this substance is Subutex. Following detox, Suboxone may be used for long-term medically assisted treatment. Suboxone is a drug that includes both buprenorphine & naloxone.
  • Methadone – Relieves and reduces the unpleasant impact of withdrawal symptoms. It is also used as long-term maintenance therapy for those addicted to opioids.
  • Naltrexone – It blocks the effects of opioids and may be used to induce withdrawal. It does not let the opioid intake affect the individual, therefore, it may also be used to avert future dependence and misuse.
  • Clonidine – Can help diminish the flu-like symptoms that come with opioid withdrawal, along with other withdrawal symptoms such as the anxiety and agitation most people experience.

Other medications may be used for symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Medical opioid detox helps smooth the withdrawal process, reduce side effects, prevent serious complications, and lessens opioid cravings. Overall, these medications offer a decent start towards recovery and help to maintain sobriety long-term. Opioid detox has to be followed with counseling, education and awareness, family and individual therapy, and support groups that can aid an individual in their attempt to stop using drugs and continue sobriety.

We Level Up opioid addiction treatment center is here to help individuals successfully complete the opioid detox process and to address psychological, physical, and spiritual issues connected to drug abuse. Qualified doctors, nurses, therapists, and addiction cases managers will be with you throughout the recovery process to ensure you have the support you need.

If you or a loved one is dealing with dependence or addiction to opioids, contact We Level Up addiction treatment support to find the best treatment options such as buprenorphine injection.