Butorphanol Prescription Facts

Butorphanol is a prescription medication that can be used to treat moderate to severe pain. It’s classified as an opioid agonist-antagonist. Butorphanol works similarly to other opioid drugs like morphine. Specifically, it affects the central nervous system to change the way the patient’s body senses pain. Most commonly, butorphanol is prescribed as a nasal spray, although an injectable version can be used in hospital settings. The butorphanol nasal spray is used to treat pain associated with conditions such as migraines. Butorphanol can also be used to help ease labor pains or pain related to surgery. With the butorphanol nasal spray, it’s important for patients to follow their doctor’s instructions carefully. Butorphanol shouldn’t be used without a prescription, and there are risks associated with its use, including addiction and dependence.

Butorphanol Regulations

Butorphanol is a Schedule IV controlled substance in the U.S. Schedule IV drugs are indicated by the DEA to have the potential for misuse and psychological addiction as well as dependence. Schedule IV drugs are viewed as having less misuse potential than most opioids, most of which are Schedule II. Even though the risk of misuse and dependence are lower with butorphanol than with other similar drugs, it’s important for patients to be aware of the risk and to discuss any personal or family history of substance misuse with their physician before using this medication.

Most Commonly Abused Opioids

Butorphanol is only a partial opioid agonist. This means that many of the effects of butorphanol are similar to other opioids but in a milder sense. For example, while someone may experience mild euphoria with butorphanol, it’s not likely to be as profound as would be the case with other prescription opioids. Some of the most widely misused and most dangerous opioids currently in the U.S. include oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl. Oxycodone is the active opioid element of the drug OxyContin, while hydrocodone is in Vicodin. Heroin is also an opioid. These drugs are highly addictive and have given rise to the deadly opioid epidemic in the U.S. Again, butorphanol doesn’t have the misuse potential that full opioid agonists do, but it’s not entirely without these risks either.

How Butorphanol Affects The Brain And Body

As was touched on, the primary use of butorphanol in the medical sense is to alleviate moderate to severe pain. By interacting with opioid receptors in the central nervous system, butorphanol can change how the body senses pain. As with other opioids, butorphanol directly affects the respiratory centers on the brain stem, leading to the potential for respiratory depression. Respiratory depression levels with butorphanol are similar to morphine. Side effects of butorphanol that are frequently seen include nausea and vomiting. There is the potential for butorphanol to affect the cardiovascular system and also the endocrine and hormonal system of patients. 

Half-Life Of Butorphanol

The half-life of butorphanol or any drug is a measure of the time it takes the body to metabolize half a dose. The half-life of a drug is important for treatment purposes, to help patients avoid overdose and in opioid-dependent people to the time when withdrawal symptoms could begin. The half-life of butorphanol is estimated to be around 18 hours, on average. It usually takes five half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from the system of a patient, so that would mean it would take an estimated 90 hours for a full dose of butorphanol to be eliminated from the system.

Factors That Influence How Long Butorphanol Stays In Your System

While 90 hours might be an estimate for how long butorphanol stays in the system of patients, there are a lot of factors that play a role in the exact number. With butorphanol, one big factor is hepatic function. In people with hepatic impairment, the half-life can triple. Other factors that influence how long butorphanol stays in your system include:

  • Overall health: People with other health conditions besides hepatic impairment can take longer to eliminate drugs from their system.
  • Age: Older people tend to take longer to eliminate substances from their systems than younger people.
  • Other drugs: if someone is taking certain medications along with butorphanol, it may take them longer to be metabolized by the body and eliminated from the system. That’s why it’s important to give physicians a full list of any other substances used before taking butorphanol.
  • Weight and size: Larger people will usually metabolize and eliminate drugs faster than smaller people.

These aren’t the only factors that influence how long butorphanol stays in your system, but they are some of the major ones. Other factors include dosage and whether or not the medication is regularly used, which can accumulate in the system. Even certain foods can influence how long a drug stays in your system.

How Long Does Butorphanol Stay In Your Urine, Hair And Blood?

People often wonder how long drugs will stay in their system if they have to take a drug test for any reason. The three primary forms of drugs tests are urine, hair and blood screenings, and they have different detection windows for different drugs. Since butorphanol is a narcotic, it may show up on standard drug screenings. In a urine test, butorphanol could be detected for around four days after it was used, on average. In a hair test, most drugs can be detected for up to 90 days. Blood tests tend to have shorter detection windows, so butorphanol might show up for only a few hours after it’s used on one of these screenings.

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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.