If you are struggling with an addiction to opiates, you know how difficult it can be to get through withdrawal. Even if you are dedicated to quitting, you are faced with the potentially lethal side effects that come from withdrawal. However, there are several treatments that can be utilized to help minimize or even eliminate those side effects. And transdermal buprenorphine patches are among the most promising of these methods.
Why Are Buprenorphine Patches Prescribed?
Buprenorphine patches were originally developed as a pain relieving method for people who couldn’t be treated with other types of medication. Essentially, it disperses a manageable level of buprenorphine over an extended period, allowing round-the-clock pain management with a minimum of fuss. Since buprenorphine is an opiate, it is usually prescribed in very low levels to avoid potential addiction.
As a result, dosages are increased very gradually, usually no more than a few milligrams every three days. And once you are ready to no longer use the patch, your dosage is gradually decreased to help avoid triggering severe withdrawal pains. The fact that they only need to be administered once every seven days makes them an increasingly popular pain management method.
Are There Potential Dangers?
Buprenorphine is an opiate, which means they may be habit forming if used improperly, such as for the purpose of getting high. Thankfully, the low level utilized in most patches means that most people who utilize them properly aren’t likely to develop an addiction.
Buprenorphine can also interact poorly with other medications, including Reyataz, Xanax, Librium, Klonopin, Diastat, Valium, Ativan, Restoril, Halcion, and others. It may also cause problems with pregnancy, as it is possible for babies to become addicted and may experience withdrawal symptoms once born. Buprenorphine may also cause allergic reactions in very rare instances. Always talk to your doctor about any potential side effects and reactions before using buprenorphine patches.
Can It Be Used For Addiction Treatment?
A randomized trial presented in PAINWeek 2015 found that buprenorphine patches could be used to manage withdrawal symptoms. The study focused primarily on switching patients to these patches from morphine or oxycodone. Although the people studied had been using those opiate medications primarily as a pain management tool, the results can be easily transposed to someone who used opiates illicitly.
Patients in the trial were switched to a small patch, which was placed on the skin of the inner cheek using a system called BioErodible MucoAdhesive or BEMA. The switch between the two delivery methods was successful: patients suffered from no major withdrawal symptoms, despite the lower dosage delivered by the patch system.
This finding is particularly promising because buprenorphine is one of the least potent opiates on the market. Essentially, this indicates that it can be used to help avoid withdrawal symptoms. And it will also be easier to carefully decrease the dosage in a way that doesn’t trigger those dangerous withdrawal symptoms.
Are There Any Studies About Its Effectiveness?
A study titled “Evaluation of a transdermal buprenorphine formulation in opioid detoxification” focused on studying the positive effects of buprenorphine on the treatment of opiate addiction. Basically, they tested the safety of the delivery method and how well it kept withdrawal at a safe and manageable level.
Nine people with opiate dependencies were tested for 10 days, wearing a patch that delivered 1.9 mg/day of buprenorphine. They found that there were almost no adverse events at the site of the patch application and that the patients in the study reported a drop of withdrawal severity by at least 50%. And once the patch was removed, the symptoms increased very little.
Are There Any Legal Concerns?
While buprenorphine patches may be prescribed for addiction recovery, it is important to use them for their proper purpose. If you obtain patches through illegal means, you may still get in legal trouble, even if you are using them to help wean yourself off of opiate addiction. Opiates like buprenorphine are carefully controlled and improper use may lead to fines and even time in jail.
This is true even if you receive buprenorphine patches for pain treatment and then use them to treat your opiate addiction. You are not only breaking the law, but putting your health at risk. Remember: a doctor can prescribe the safest dosage and can also help you decrease your dosage without putting your health at risk.
Deciding If It’s Right For You
Making the decision to choose a buprenorphine patch for your detoxification is a major concern. It’s not one that you should take lightly. Make sure to talk to your doctor or rehab specialists first. And if you have any more questions about these patches or anything else related to rehab, please contact us at DrugRehab.org. We can help you make the decision that is right for you and your needs.