• Generic Name or Active Ingridient: Buprenorphine
Drug Class: Buprenorphine > Semi Synthetic Opioid > Opioids > Opioid Agonist > Analgesic.

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opiate prescribed as a long-term analgesic for chronic moderate to acute pain relief. Buprenorphine is not indicated for short-term use but physicians may prescribe buprenorphine for other, off-label uses like reducing surgical pain.

Buprenorphine works by attaching to opiate receptor in your brain and nervous system in such a way that prevents symptoms of withdrawal to other narcotics like heroin and OxyContin. Because of this action, medical professionals use buprenorphine to treat opiate dependence.


Buprenorphine comes in two forms – tablets and a transdermal patch. An injectable formulation intended for pain relief is available under the brand name, Buprenex. Learn More About Buprenorphine Uses and Administration


You should not use a buprenorphine transdermal patch if you have severe breathing problems such as asthma or a history of bowel obstructive disease, paralytic ileus. Never wear more than one patch at a time unless directed to do so by your physician. Do not expose the buprenorphine transdermal patch to heat, as heat can increase the amount of medication absorbed into the skin.

Before taking buprenorphine, tell you doctor if you are allergic to it or to adhesives. Alert your physician to any other allergies you may have, as buprenorphine preparations may contain inactive substances that may trigger an allergic reaction. Seek medical help immediately if you show signs of an allergic reaction, such as hives, difficulty breathing or swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.

Discuss your medical history with your doctor, especially if you have had brain disorders like a head injury, seizures or tumors. Tell your physician about any respiratory problems such as asthma, COPD or sleep apnea. Note any kidney or liver disease, along with any family history of mental disorders and alcohol abuse.

Keep buprenorphine away from children and pets. The amount of narcotic in a buprenorphine patch is fatal to a child if she happened to suck or chew on the transdermal patch. Children under the age of 16 should not take buprenorphine. Elderly patients should take caution when using buprenorphine and should be watched for depressed breathing patterns and drowsiness. Read More About Buprenorphine Precautions

Side effects

Like other narcotics, buprenorphine can affect your breathing. Death can occur if your breathing becomes too shallow or weak. Notify your doctor right away if you notice severe side effects, such as yellowing of your skin or eyes, an allergic reaction, anxiety and nervousness, dark urine, mood changes, pale stools or depressed breathing. Other side effects include

  • Shallow or slowed breathing
  • Feeling light-headed or fainting
  • Confusion
  • Having unusual thoughts or exhibiting atypical behavior
  • Chills
  • Constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain

Learn More About Buprenorphine Side Effects


Talk with your doctor before taking buprenorphine if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Medical scientists warn that buprenorphine may affect an unborn baby. Buprenorphine is found in breast milk, so do not take this narcotic while breast feeding.

More Warnings About Using Buprenorphine


Health care professionals usually handle and store buprenorphine in a clinical setting. If you use buprenorphine at home, store as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. Read More About Storing Buprenorphine

Drug Interactions

You should not take buprenorphine if you have taken an MAO inhibitor such as urazolidone, isocarboxazid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline or tranylcypromine in the last 14 days. Serious, life-threatening conditions may develop if you take buprenorphine before all traces of the MAO inhibitor have left your body. Do not take buprenorphine if you are taking sodium oxybate, otherwise known as GHB. More Drug Interactions


If you forget to change your buprenorphine patch, replace the old patch with only one new one. Do not apply two patches in an attempt to catch up.

Seek medical help immediately from your local emergency room or by contacting the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 1-800-222-1222 if you suspect that you or someone you know may have suffered a buprenorphine overdose. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive Drowsiness
  • Severe Dizziness
  • Very Slow and Shallow Breathing
  • Very Small Pupils

Learn More About Buprenorphine Dosing


Those who misuse the drug typically crush the pills and then inhale the powder through their noses or inject it intravenously. Suboxone, which contains buprenorphine, is used recreationally to cause feelings of euphoria in opiate abusers.


There is a chance to develop dependency on buprenorphine when this powerful opiate is prescribed for real and acute pain. Risk for dependency rises dramatically when buprenorphine is used recreationally.


Do not suddenly stop taking buprenorphine unless otherwise directed by your physician. A sudden cessation of buprenorphine may cause unpleasant and acute withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
  • Fever
  • Sneezing or runny nose
  • Goosebumps, sweating and abnormal skin sensations
  • Shivers and tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat and rigid muscles
  • Insomnia

Read More About Abuse and Withdrawal


Detoxification from buprenorphine can cause extreme anxiety and withdrawal symptoms if not done correctly. Weaning your body from opiates such as buprenorphine can be a significantly uncomfortable process, regardless of whether dependency was gained through prescription or recreational use. A medically-supervised detoxification program is advised to ensure safety and increase comfort during the weaning process. Rapid detox involves deep sedation during the most acute phase of the withdrawal process. In this procedure, your body's opiate receptors are cleansed of buprenorphine while you are anaesthetized and asleep. Learn More About Buprenorphine Detoxification Programs

Other, off label uses for this medicine

Pharmacologists combined Buprenorphine with Narcan to create Suboxone, a semi-synthetic narcotic effective for treating addiction to opiates such as heroin, morphine, oxycodone and others. Treating addictions with Suboxone is superior to methadone, in that Suboxone is available in pill form which may be taken at home, in comparison with methadone which must be administered in a clinical setting. There is risk for developing addiction to buprenorphine when used as a treatment for addiction to other opiates.

More Off-Label Uses for Buprenorphine