Buprenorphine is a schedule III drug that is used to treat opioid addictions, however it has become a popular drug of abuse in recent times.
Is Buprenorphine a Narcotic?
Buprenorphine is considered a narcotic, although its status as a partial agonist makes it less dangerous to the potential for abuse when compared to other drugs in the same class. However, if you have been abusing this medication––or another type of opioid––and need treatment, it is important to seek help by calling 844-431-5818(Who Answers?) today.
Buprenorphine and Its Drug Class
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Buprenorphine is in a class of medications called opioid partial agonist-antagonists.” Narcotic is another term for opioids, which are any type of drug that causes pain relief, drowsiness, and respiratory depression that has either been synthesized from or created directly by the poppy plant. Buprenorphine is in this drug category, but it is different from other narcotics for a number of reasons.
- The drug itself produces the same effects that other opioids do, including pain relief, respiratory depression, and, when taken in large doses, euphoria. It also occupies the opioid receptors in the brain.
- When used, however, it produces these effects in much weaker amounts than full opioid agonists do. For example, methadone will create more intense effects than buprenorphine at their respective optimal doses.
- Buprenorphine also has a ceiling effect, where eventually, the effects the drug causes begin to level off, even if the person continues taking larger doses of it.
- According to the Substance Abuse and mental Health Services Administration, “This ‘ceiling effect’ lowers the risk of misuse, dependency, and side effects.”
- For this reason, buprenorphine is only considered a partial opioid agonist. It is still a narcotic/opioid, though.
Which Drug Schedule Is Buprenorphine?
Any product containing buprenorphine as well as the drug itself is controlled under Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. This means the drug has potential for abuse, but this potential is not as high as it would be for a Schedule I substance, like heroin, or a Schedule II substance, like methadone. It also means that buprenorphine is approved for medicinal use but must be prescribed by a doctor. The medication cannot legally be bought or sold without a doctor’s prescription.
Does Buprenorphine Still Cause the Same Effects Other Narcotics Cause?
Yes, but the former drug often causes more mild side effects as well as milder intended effects. This is why individuals with a mild or moderate dependence on opioids will often be given buprenorphine as part of their treatment program, but those who have more intense dependencies will need to take methadone.
Methadone has stronger effects, and its optimal dose is stronger than buprenorphine’s optimal dose. Not everyone needs the strongest effects possible, though, which is why buprenorphine is appropriate for many individuals.
Is It Possible to Abuse This Drug Like Other Narcotics?
Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that the medication is more protected from the potential of abuse than other opioids, many people do still abuse buprenorphine like they do other narcotics. According to the DEA, the medication has become popular as a heroin substitute as of late in many countries.
Usually, abusers of buprenorphine are those who are not dependent on opioids themselves, but anyone determined enough might try to experience euphoric effects using buprenorphine.
There is another safeguard put into place in order to help people avoid abusing buprenorphine, though. Naloxone is often combined with the drug, and it precipitates withdrawal in anyone dependent on opioids who attempts to abuse it.
Normally, the medication is prescribed as a sublingual tablet, and those who crush and snort or inject it in order to feel the high faster experience withdrawal instead. Some still do abuse the drug in spite of this, but buprenorphine is slightly more protected from abuse than full narcotics/opioid agonists for many reasons.
Buprenorphine: Narcotic and Addiction Treatment
Buprenorphine can do many things to help treat someone with an addiction to narcotics. Still, the drug itself, while not a full opioid agonist, has many of the properties of narcotics and falls into this category. This means that it must always be taken exactly as prescribed and that one should never stray from their doctor’s orders while on the drug.