Buprenorphine Transdermal System Addiction

The buprenorphine transdermal system is known under the trade name Butrans. Butrans is a patch that goes directly on the skin and contains a narcotic (opioid) pain medication. The buprenorphine transdermal system is intended as a way to manage pain that’s both severe and ongoing. This can include pain from arthritis or chronic back pain, for example. As with other opioids, buprenorphine changes the way the body senses pain and responds to it, by affecting the central nervous system. There are different strengths of the buprenorphine transdermal system available, including 7.5, 10, 15 and 20 micrograms. The transdermal patch is applied directly to the skin of the patient. The patch is usually changed every seven days. The buprenorphine transdermal system is often prescribed along with other non-opioid pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to increase pain relief effects. The buprenorphine transdermal system is an extended-release medication.

Buprenorphine is an opioid medication, but it’s unique from some other opioids. Buprenorphine is classified as a partial opioid agonist. As a result, buprenorphine causes less euphoria than other opioids and has a lower risk of physical dependence and misuse. There is a ceiling on the opioid effects of buprenorphine, meaning using over a certain amount isn’t going to cause heightened effects. Along with the use of the Butrans transdermal patch, buprenorphine is also used as an opioid dependence treatment. Buprenorphine can help reduce withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent people and also reduce cravings for opioids. Buprenorphine can block the effects of other opioids and can help people remain in addiction treatment programs.

The Butrans buprenorphine transdermal system is a skin patch. There are different sizes based on the amount of medicine in each patch. The sizes and buprenorphine dosages are as follows:

  • Butrans 5 mcg/hour: 45×45 mm
  • Butrans 7.5 mcg/hour: 45×58 mm
  • Butrans 10 mcg/hour: 45×68 mm
  • Butran 15 mcg/hour: 59×72 mm
  • Butrans 20 mcg/hour: 72×72 mm
While buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist and has a lower risk profile and fewer effects as compared to other opioids, misuse and addiction are still possible. The makers of the brand-name Butrans patch include warnings about the potential for misuse and addiction with the use of the drug. Buprenorphine works similarly to methadone, in that it can block the effects of other opioids. Getting high off buprenorphine is difficult, but not impossible. However, if someone is attempting to get high from buprenorphine, the effects aren’t likely to be the same level of euphoria as is seen with other opioids, and there is also the ceiling effect.

Buprenorphine does stimulate opioid receptors but also partially. If someone took buprenorphine or used the transdermal patch and then used heroin as an example, there wouldn’t be an effect. The most intense effects of buprenorphine would typically be felt in someone who hadn’t previously used opioids or who wasn’t opioid-tolerant. However, buprenorphine is usually only prescribed to people who are already opioid-tolerant. Because buprenorphine transdermal patches have time-released medications in them, some people attempt to chew them or misuse them in other ways to get high. There is the risk of an overdose when doing this, and again, it’s not likely to produce the level of euphoria experienced with other opioids.

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