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Precautions and Warnings With Sublingual Buprenorphine

Specific Sublingual Buprenorphine Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using this opioid medicine include the following:
  • Sublingual buprenorphine can cause potentially life-threatening slow and irregular breathing (called "respiratory depression"). Certain people have an increased risk for respiratory depression, including older adults, people who already have breathing problems, and people who are taking certain other medications. Signs of respiratory depression include:
    • Extreme drowsiness
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Infrequent, deep sighing breaths
    • Unusual snoring.
  • Sublingual buprenorphine is a narcotic medication with a significant potential for abuse. Do not use the drug more frequently or at a higher dose than prescribed. If you feel you may be developing a problem with sublingual buprenorphine abuse, please seek help from a healthcare provider.
  • There have been reports of liver damage in people using sublingual buprenorphine. To monitor for this problem, your healthcare provider should check your liver enzymes using a simple, standard blood test before you start this medication and periodically thereafter.
  • This medication can cause problems in people with head injuries or high intracranial pressure. It should only be used with extreme caution in such circumstances.
  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how sublingual buprenorphine affects you, as this drug can make you drowsy. Your reflexes and reaction times may be significantly affected, even if you feel fine.
  • This medication should be used with caution in people with low blood pressure, liver disease, kidney disease, gallbladder problems, or pancreatic disease. Check with your healthcare provider before taking sublingual buprenorphine if you have any of these conditions.
  • Do not drink alcohol while using this medication. Consuming alcohol with sublingual buprenorphine use could increase your risk for serious side effects, including extreme drowsiness, confusion, memory loss, or difficulty breathing.
  • Sublingual buprenorphine passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to using the drug (see Subutex and Breastfeeding).
  • Sublingual buprenorphine is a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see Subutex and Pregnancy).
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Sublingual Buprenorphine Information

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