How To Taper Off Buprenorphine or Suboxone pt. 1

Many patients taking buprenorphine live in fear of a dark world around the corner where they will have to taper off the medication.  They see horror stories on YouTube posted by people who, for some reason, abruptly stopped the medication and kept a video log of their experiences.   My own Read more…

The Real Reason Fentanyl is So Dangerous

Fentanyl plays a role in more and more opioid overdose deaths. Most fentanyl used ‘on the streets’ starts in China, with precursors shipped to California or Mexico before distribution throughout the US. Fentanyl acts very potently at the same receptors as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. Reports of overdose deaths caused Read more…

How to Stop Buprenorphine or Suboxone, Pt 2

In the last post we discussed some of the misconceptions about tapering off opioids.  Today we will discuss a couple basic principles, and then describe the approach I recommend for my patients tapering off buprenorphine. Tapering off Suboxone is not impossible. Opioids act at receptors that normally bind endorphins, which Read more…

Buprenorphine Overdose After Naltrexone Treatment

Naltrexone induces mu-receptor hypersensitivity.  Buprenorphine’s protective ‘ceiling effect’ may not prevent overdose in patients with this ‘reverse tolerance’. A new patient described his recent history of respiratory failure several days into buprenorphine treatment.  He was told by his doctors that he experienced an allergic reaction to Suboxone. The rarity of Read more…

Cannabinoid Hyperemesis: How Rare?

I recently read a CBS news story about CHS, or Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, describing a 100% increase in cases in Colorado since the legalization of marijuana there.  A search for ‘THC’ and ‘CHS’ pulls stories from a range of sources including High Times, Wikipedia, Fusion.net, and Current Psychiatry.  A broader Read more…

Post-op Pain on Suboxone

Many patients on Suboxone or buprenorphine eventually require pain treatment, just like people who aren’t on buprenorphine products.  I’ve written about post-op pain control several times, but I continue to get emails from patients who haven’t seen my comments and who view an upcoming surgery with the same fear experienced Read more…

Media Bias Against Suboxone

First Posted 2.8.2014 After Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, I anticipated a flood of articles describing the ineffectiveness of non-medication treatments for opioid dependence.  I assumed the media would finally report on the need for long-term treatment of a long-term illness.  Instead we read more articles describing Suboxone (i.e. buprenorphine) as a ‘bad drug’, since Read more…

Does Suboxone Stop Working Over Time?

First Posted 12/31/2013 Buprenorphine is relatively unique among opioids in having a ‘ceiling’ to mu opioid effects.  There are other known molecules that act as partial agonists at mu opioid receptors, but buprenorphine is the most useful, at this point, because of other traits of the molecule– such as having Read more…

Toward Understanding Ibogaine

First Posted 12/30/2013 Paul Dessauer, Outreach Coordinator at WASUA, the Western Australian Substance Users’ Association, often adds insight to issues that come up on my blog.  He shared a few comments in response to my post about ibogaine, and at my request gave permission to post his remarks here. His Read more…

A Letter from Drug Court

I recently received a note from an area drug court, asking for help tapering one of my patients off buprenorphine. The patient came to me 4 years ago after being treated for a congenital pain condition.  He had been treated with 150 mg of methadone per day, becoming dependent on Read more…

Wasting Resources on Suboxone

Originally posted 1/26/2013 Readers of this blog know that I have often questioned whether there is any clinical difference between Suboxone and generic buprenorphine.  Naloxone is an opioid-blocking chemical added to buprenorphine, supposedly in order to reduce intravenous diversion of the medication.  The combination of buprenorphine plus naloxone is branded as Read more…

Withdrawal from Suboxone or Buprenorphine

I received a question from a reader about withdrawal symptoms from stopping buprenorphine. My answer has relevance to opioid withdrawal in general, and to a common misconception about the duration of withdrawal symptoms. The message: Basically I quit Suboxone about 18 days ago. When I decided to quit I was taking about Read more…