Buprenorphine Treatment: What Is It?

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May 8, 2018

Treatment options for an opioid addiction can be overwhelming whether it is for you or a loved one, especially if you are unfamiliar with the terminology. One of the treatment options you may see often is “Medication-Assisted Treatment” or “MAT”.

How Does the Addiction Start?

When you become addicted to something, such as pain pills, it alters the way your brain works and responds. In the case of pain pills, “opioids target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine.”1 When dopamine levels decrease, the brain sends signals to get more. You may think, “dopamine is a natural thing, why is it bad now?” Opioids lead to addiction because the amount and speed of dopamine released is much faster and provides almost instantaneous gratification. Unfortunately, “long-term abuse of these substances can lead the body to produce less dopamine over time, causing cravings similar to those by individuals on the verge of starvation or dehydration.”2

How Does the Treatment Help?

One of the top medications used is called “buprenorphine”, a tablet or film that can be prescribed by a trained physician in various treatment settings. This medication mimics the way opioids attach to brain receptors, and tricks the brain into thinking it is satisfied. Buprenorphine does not cause someone to feel “high” in the same way opioids do because opioids are full-agonists and buprenorphine is a partial-agonist. Buprenorphine, however, can decrease withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for opioids. Buprenorphine also has what’s known as a ‘ceiling’ effect, which means that you cannot build a ‘tolerance’ to this medication so that over time you will not need ‘more’ to get the same effect, as you would with opioids. At your first appointment, your physician can help determine the right dosage for you and will continue to monitor your progress through the induction phase of treatment and beyond. Buprenorphine maintenance treatment is a safe and effective treatment option when combined with a comprehensive recovery program.

How Do I Get Started?

First, it is important to find a treatment center with a good reputation and that you feel comfortable with. Once you have scheduled an appointment, a physician at the treatment center will start with an intake appointment which will include history of use, a physical exam, and allows for an opportunity for you to discuss any questions or concerns. After the physician reviews your case, they will determine the path they believe will be the best fit for you. AppleGate Recovery is a treatment facility that specializes in Medication-Assisted Treatment, specifically with buprenorphine. If you are unsure if you or a loved one is at risk for addiction, take their self-assessment to get a better insight. For those who live near Bossier City, they have a location that is there to help. They also have other locations in Louisiana and Texas, with plans to expand across the country. 1How Do Opioids Work in the Brain? (n.d.). Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.naabt.org/faq_answers.cfm?ID=6 2Wilkerson, M. (2015, April 27).

Why Understanding Dopamine Is Crucial to Treating Opioid Addiction. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.thefix.com/content/why-understanding-dopamine-crucial-treating-opioid-addiction