What Is Belbuca (Buprenorphine)?

Belbuca is a strong opioid pain medication. The generic active ingredient is buprenorphine, prescribed to treat severe around-the-clock pain. Belbuca is a film, and it’s used when other pain medications including non-opioids or immediate-release narcotics aren’t effective. Belbuca is a film placed in the lining of the cheek. The FDA only recently approved Belbuca, and it’s the first buccal buprenorphine formula approved to treat pain. When someone uses Belbuca, the film dissolves on their cheek lining. While Belbuca is a relatively new product, buprenorphine isn’t. Buprenorphine is often used as a treatment for opioid use disorder as well as severe chronic pain. The structure of buprenorphine is similar to opioids like oxycodone and hydromorphone, but it works differently. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist of opioid receptors. This means that while it does activate the same receptors as opioid drugs of misuse, it does so in a milder way. There is also a ceiling effect on buprenorphine. Even if someone attempts to increase the dosage they use to get more of an effect, it won’t increase the effects beyond a certain point.

Some of the common side effects of Belbuca can include sleep problems, such as insomnia, headache and sweating. Also possible are gastrointestinal problems like constipation, nausea and vomiting. As with other narcotics, there is a potential for respiratory depression with Belbecua. Severe side effects requiring immediate medical attention can include dizziness, loss of coordination, chest pain or problems breathing. Other severe side effects with Belbecua can include shallow breathing, sexual problems, confusion or changes in mood and behavior.

What Does Belbuca Look Like?

Belbuca is a dissolvable film that’s small, square and yellow. When someone is prescribed Belbuca, it adheres to what is called the buccal mucosa, and it should be fully dissolved within around 30 minutes. Belbuca requires more frequent dosing than something like Butrans. For example, Butrans is usually prescribed to be taken every 24 hours. Belbeuca is typically taken every 12 hours for around-the-clock pain management. There are many Belbecua dosages available. These dosages include:

  • 75 mcg
  • 150 mcg
  • 300 mcg
  • 450 mcg
  • 600 mcg
  • 750 mcg
  • 900 mcg

Is Belbuca Addictive?

The active ingredient in Belbecua, buprenorphine, is potentially addictive. Despite the fact that buprenorphine is often used as a medication to help people stop using opioids, it does still have an addiction potential. Buprenorphine is derived from something called thebaine, which is similar to opium. Even though buprenorphine is only a partial opioid agonist, it can create euphoria in people who use it. With that being said, buprenorphine doesn’t have the same risk of misuse as full opioid agonists. Any euphoria a person might experience will be milder than what they would experience with other prescription opioids or heroin. Along with the milder effects, the ceiling effect of buprenorphine also lowers the risk of misuse and addiction. What can happen with Belbuca and other buprenorphine products is that people may use them other than how they’re prescribed. This could include liquefying the drug and injecting it. That would make the effects stronger and would increase the chances of becoming addicted to Belbuca.

Belbuca manufacturers include certain warnings with the drug. First, patients are instructed to apply it exactly as instructed by the prescribing healthcare provider and not to change the dose. People who use Belbuca should also avoid chewing, swallowing, snorting or injecting Belbuca. According to the drug manufacturers, this leads to an uncontrolled delivery of buprenorphine and can cause an overdose.

We understand the weight of addiction and its far-reaching effects. We’d like to help, so contact The Recovery Village to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.