Buprenorphine represents one of the latest advancements in medication for addiction treatment (MAT).

Medications such as buprenorphine, along with counseling and behavioral therapies, provide a whole-patient approach to treating OUD.

When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective.

How Does Buprenorphine Work?

Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist.

This means that Buprenoprhinecan activates opioid receptors in the brain, but to a much lesser degree.


This allows the drug to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing for a more gradual and controlled recovery while reducing the risk of relapse.

This “ceiling effect” (leveling off of opioid effects) lowers the risk of misuse, dependency, and side effects.

Because of buprenorphine’s long-acting agent, some patients may not have to take it every day.

Common brand names of Buprenorphine are: Subutex, Suboxone, Zubsolv

Potential Side Effects of Buprenorphine 

Buprenorphine’s side effects are similar to those of opioids and can include:


  • Constipation (this is the most common side effect)
  • Nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Cravings
  • Inability to sleep
  • Distress and irritability
  • Fever

Benefits of Buprenorphine

  • Lower the potential for misuse.
  • Diminish the effects of physical dependency to opioids, such as withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Increase safety in cases of overdose.

Buprenorphine and Pregnancy

Buprenorphine is safe and effective for treating opioid dependence during pregnancy.

Buprenorphine has similar outcomes for women with opioid use disorders, but is better for unborn children, resulting in fewer incidents of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

The risks of continued opioid abuse during pregnancy greatly outweighs the minimal risks involved in using Methadone or Buprenorphine.

The use of MAT for pregnant women should also include behavioral therapy in coordination with their medical provider who is providing their prenatal care.