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What Is Buprenorphine Hydrochloride?

Article Details
  • Written By: M. West
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Buprenorphine hydrochloride is classified as an opioid, which means that it is in the same chemical family of morphine, codeine, and heroin; however, it has the distinction of producing less euphoric effects than these drugs. It is available as a tablet, which is used to treat opioid dependence, and as an injection, which is used as an analgesic for treating moderate to severe pain. As it is a medication capable of causing serious side effects and even death, it should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. Those who take this drug should be aware of special instructions to follow and what the correct dosage should be, as well as the medication’s extensive list of side effects and precautions.

The recommended dosage of buprenorphine hydrochloride should be strictly adhered to by the patient. Adults may receive a tablet dosage of 12 to 16 mg per day, while adults and children over the age of 13 may receive 0.3 mg in an injection every six hours, as needed. Overdosage is extremely dangerous, since it can cause respiratory depression, low blood pressure, and death.

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Patients and their families or caregivers should know the correct method of taking buprenorphine hydrochloride and also be familiar with the measures that they must take to reduce the likelihood of dangerous effects. Instead of swallowing the tablets, which hinders effectiveness, the tablets should be placed under the tongue until the medication dissolves. Also, the dosage should not be altered and patients should never stop taking the drug unless they have been told to do so by their doctor. Abstaining from alcohol and other central nervous system depressants, such as sleeping pills or narcotics, will help to avoid a life-threatening overdose. Additionally, patients should either avoid or exercise great care in driving or engaging in activities that require mental alertness.

Due to the serious nature of buprenorphine hydrochloride, patients should be alert to the manifestation of side effects it can cause. Cardiovascular effects include high or low blood pressure, along with a fast or slow heartbeat. Central nervous system effects involve dizziness, sedation. and confusion, as well as hallucinations, psychosis, and coma. Gastrointestinal side effects of buprenorphine hydrochloride include nausea, vomiting, and constipation, along with loss of appetite, diarrhea. and abdominal pain. Other symptoms include slow or shallow breathing, constricted pupils, and hepatitis, in addition to rash, itching, and infection.

In addition to the side effects, certain precautions should be considered when taking buprenorphine hydrochloride. As it has abuse potential, psychological and physical dependence can develop, along with tolerance. Elderly and debilitated patients are more susceptible to the adverse effects, so the drug should be used cautiously in these groups. It also should be used carefully in those with various medical conditions, some of which include impaired liver, kidney, or lung function, as well as central nervous system depression, coma, or toxic psychosis. Another group that should use the drug only with caution is head injury patients, as it can increase pressure within the head.

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