Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
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November 5, 2021

Alternatives to Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist that binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, easing pain and creating a sense of well-being. When taken as directed with direct supervision from medical professionals, buprenorphine is a component of many successful medication-assisted treatment plans for people working to end their physical and psychological dependence on opioids. What should you know about this evidence-based option, and are there any useful alternatives to buprenorphine?

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

While opioids can be effective drugs for managing short-term and chronic pain, they also create a sense of euphoria. Addiction occurs when drug use rewires the brain’s reward pathways to associate opioids with that pleasurable sensation. As your tolerance builds, you’ll require higher doses of medication to achieve that same desirable high.

Eventually, you may reach a point where your brain cannot attain or maintain its natural equilibrium without the presence of opioids. Then, you will experience an array of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit using drugs or scale back how much you take. That’s why people who rely on opioids continue abusing these medications, even after experiencing severe life consequences.

In the past, the approach to quitting opioids was to bite the bullet and go cold turkey, but we have seen that this mindset led to unnecessary suffering and pain. That’s why Beach House provides medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, as a comprehensive and proven approach that uses FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine and naltrexone to ease cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Buprenorphine vs. Naltrexone

Buprenorphine is a component of Subutex and Suboxone, which are two medications used in MAT for opioid addiction. Subutex only contains buprenorphine, while Suboxone adds another medication called naltrexone.

  • Buprenorphine produces similar effects as opioids, but at a much milder level. Taking it under strict supervision ensures you can focus on detoxification and therapy with a clearer head and fewer distractions. Once your body and brain are free from opioids and other substances, your treatment team will help you gradually taper off and discontinue use.
  • Naltrexone (also known as Vivitrol) is an alternative medication that can decrease cravings for opioids and alcohol. It has no risk of misuse or overdose, but may cause severe side effects if you take opioids while using it. Vivitrol is available as a pill and a once-monthly injection.

Why Is MAT Effective?

There’s a persistent myth that MAT can perpetuate the cycle of addiction by swapping one dangerous substance for another. However, you can think of taking medication to manage your opioid withdrawal process like taking drugs for any other chronic disease, like cancer or diabetes. Under the careful supervision of a qualified, licensed medical professional who specializes in treating addiction disorders, there is no risk of developing a new addiction with Subutex, Suboxone and Vivitrol.

When applied as the first stage of a comprehensive, holistic continuum of care, MAT during detox can create a more comfortable experience by significantly decreasing physical withdrawal symptoms. Our goal is for clients to complete the detoxification process sooner. That way, you will feel stable enough to start participating in a daily residential treatment program that integrates other evidence-based interventions, like group and individual therapy.

Evidence-based approaches like MAT have a high success rate in helping people overcome their opiate dependency, get on the path to wellness and maintain long-term sobriety. By bridging the biological and behavioral components of addiction, MAT represents a highly customizable approach to improving your quality of life and ability to cope with stress and anxiety.

Substance Abuse Recovery at Beach House

Beach House is one of the country’s leading providers of evidence-based treatment for substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. We have created a private enclave in the small community of Juno Beach, Florida, where adults can get the help they need to begin their healing process surrounded by love and compassion. Contact us today to learn more about our amenities and industry-leading client-to-therapist ratio.