Guest Author - Susan Hubenthal
Buprenorphine has been around a while and there have been some doctors using it for opiate addiction treatment. Researchers in the US and Europe have determined that alternative drug treatments often are more successful in treating heroin/opiate addiction than low dose methadone maintenance, according the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Buprenorphine and higher doses of methadone were found to be more effective for treating heroin addiction than the recommended low dose now being used in most treatment centers.
The US is home to nearly one million heroin users. These alternative treatment studies may pave the way to a new avenue for drug treatment, by offering more options than the ones currently being prescribed. They are methadone, naltrexone, and LAMM. A study of a group of adult heroin addicted volunteers, where one group was given the regular low dose of methadone, and the other group was given buprenorphine or higher methadone doses. The buprenorphine group had a higher incidence of improved outcome than those in the low dose methadone group.
Buprenorphine also has limited side effects. There is less euphoria than morphine and heroin, less sedation and respiratory problems, where as heroin causes the slowing down of breathing and that is what makes it so dangerous. Buprenorphine is slowly released and produces a long lasting effect. It can be administered to patients every other day, rather than daily doses like methadone. Some studies have suggested that withdrawal effects are less severe with buprenorphine than methadone. Buprenorphine can be administered sublingually, absorbed under the tongue, not swallowed. As with any drug, buprenorphine has potential for abuse by patient/addicts making it unsuitable for patients to take home and medicate themselves. If an addict did attempt to abuse buprenorphine, they could experience the misery of withdrawal symptoms.
The War On Drugs marches on wounding and killing more and more of our precious young people. We must demand that our leaders find ways to fund more research into drug addiction, effective drug treatment, effective drug education for both parents and students, more after school, and mentoring programs to help stop the spread of this disease. We save the owls, we save the whales, we save the trees. WE MUST save our kids