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Buprenorphine Side Effects

Buprenorphine is an opioid and narcotic that is used to relieve pain as well as treat heroin withdrawal. It belongs to the depressants category of psychoactive drugs and its mechanism of working is; inhibiting signals to and from the brain and other body organs.

It is less addictive than heroin, oxycodone and other opioids of its class, but with prolonged use and large intake amounts, it can also develop into addiction.

Opioids trigger an increase in production of endorphins by the body and these endorphins are responsible for attaching themselves to the brain and Central Nervous System receptacles, inhibiting or altering signal perception by the brain. This is what makes them effective pain killers.

Buprenorphine side effects

The most commonly experienced side effects of buprenorphine treatment, whether one is taking the medication under a doctor’s prescription to relieve pain or if they are just taking the drug recreationally are:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Low respiration rate
  • Slowed heart beat
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild confusion
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Stomach and digestive system discomforts
  • Nausea that may induce vomiting
  • Low blood pressure or hypotension
  • Lowered cognitive ability

Factors that may enhance buprenorphine side effects are:

Body conditions

  • A heart defect that makes its pumping already slow
  • Deformed lungs or tracheas that make breathing slow
  • Lungs that are filled with fluid
  • Low blood pressure
  • An overactive thyroid gland
  • An ineffective kidney
  • A malfunctioning liver
  • Respiratory problems – low metabolic rate
  • Allergies to buprenorphine or other narcotics
  • Mental illness
  • Intestinal problems
  • Spine deformities
  • Intra cranial pressure
  • Urination problems and gall bladder issues

Interaction with other drugs

Alcohol and other depressant drugs react to enhance their effects of slowing the brain and bodily functions and may cause multiple organ failure; which may result in death. This is because their working mechanisms involve slowing the brain. A combination of buprenorphine and these other drugs may slow the body to the point of death.

Side effects amplified – overdose

An intake of more buprenorphine than is prescribed may lead to an accumulation of the drug in the system and this might lead to an overdose.

An overdose is characterized by:

  • Multiple organ failure
  • Cardiac arrest where the heart slows to a halt
  • Blue lips and skin – indicating that the blood is not flowing there
  • Muscles becoming flaccid
  • Fainting and total loss of consciousness
  • Stroke might result from brain damage caused by low blood supply to the brain
  • Coma
  • Death

Treatment of buprenorphine side effects 

Side effects of buprenorphine might be reduced by taking its compounds. Buprenorphine compounds contain buprenorphine and some other medications which lower the addictive factor of buprenorphine as well as reduce its side effects. The two commonly known and used (in prescription of pain relief) are Suboxone and subutex. Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.