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Belbuca is a pain relieving narcotic medication, prescribed to patients with severe, ongoing pain. Belbuca isn’t something that should be used to treat pain on an as-needed basis. This buccal film is placed on the lining of the cheek, where it then dissolves over a period of around 30 minutes. Once the medication is absorbed, it delivers controlled-release pain relief over a 12-hour period. The active ingredient in Belbuca is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is primarily used as an opioid addiction and dependence medication. Buprenorphine can be given to people with opioid dependencies to help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Buprenorphine activates the same receptors as prescription narcotics and heroin but in a lesser way. It’s classified as a partial opioid agonist, which is how it has milder effects than other opioids. Belbuca can change the way the brain and body sense pain and how pain signals are sent. Buprenorphine can also block the effects of other opioids if they’re used at the same time.
Since buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, the risk of misuse and addiction is lower than it is with other opioids. There are still risks associated with buprenorphine-containing drugs like Belbuca, however. Buprenorphine is a Schedule III controlled substance in the U.S. This scheduling indicates the DEA does see buprenorphine as having a misuse potential, but it’s lower than full opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone. Belbuca can cause addiction and dependence. It can also cause respiratory depression since it slows down the functions of the central nervous system. Before someone is prescribed Belbuca, their doctor will likely go over any history they may have of substance misuse or addiction. It’s also important for physicians prescribing Belbuca to ensure patients understand this can’t be used with other central nervous system depressants. While Belbuca is a controlled-release drug with a lower potential for misuse, some patients may chew, swallow or inject the buprenorphine in Belbuca to feel a euphoric opioid high. Other possible side effects of Belbuca can include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness and drowsiness.
There are different reasons someone might mix alcohol and Belbuca. One reason could be an inadvertent scenario. Someone prescribed Belbuca might have a drink, not realizing there could be possible interactions or side effects. On the other hand, some people might mix alcohol and Belbuca to increase the effects of both substances. Another scenario could include a person with a dependency on both alcohol and Belbuca who’s combining the substances as a result. Regardless of the reasons, mixing alcohol and Belbuca is not only a bad idea, but it can also be a deadly combination.
Belbuca and alcohol used together can increase the likelihood of side effects, as well as their severity. Common side effects of mixing alcohol and Belbuca can include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and constipation. Headache, changes in vision, dizziness and fainting may occur when someone mixes alcohol and Belbuca. Sweating, changes in heart rate, changes in blood pressure and cardiac complications can occur. Someone who’s mixed alcohol and Belbuca may experience impaired motor function and coordination, impaired thinking and judgment, and changes in mood and behavior. Memory problems and blackouts may be more likely to happen when someone is combining two substances like alcohol and Belbuca.
Beyond these side effects, alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, as is Belbuca. When two central nervous system depressants are used together, it can cause respiratory problems including decreased breathing rate. Breathing can slow so much that a person experiences a lack of oxygen delivered to the brain, resulting in damage. A fatal overdose can occur as well. Some warnings come with the use of Belbuca about the risks of mixing it not only with alcohol but other CNS depressants such as benzodiazepines or prescription sleep medications.
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Beyond the physical side effects of that can occur when mixing alcohol and Belbuca, there are other considerations as well. Mixing alcohol and Belbuca can make it more likely a person will develop a polysubstance addiction. Polysubstance addiction and dependence can be difficult and more complex to treat. There is also an increased likelihood of certain new or worsening psychological symptoms when regularly mixing alcohol and Belbuca, such as depression. The combination of alcohol and any opioid is never a good one, nor is it advisable.
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Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.