Mental Health Channel
Topics & Medications
Related Channels

What Is Sublingual Buprenorphine Used For?

How Does This Medicine Work?

Sublingual buprenorphine contains buprenorphine, an opioid narcotic medication. Buprenorphine binds to specific types of opioid receptors, called opioid mu-receptors, which are located throughout the body. While the main effects occur in the central nervous system, buprenorphine can produce effects anywhere opioid mu-receptors are found.
Buprenorphine does not work well when swallowed, as only a small amount of the medication is actually absorbed into the bloodstream (mainly because it is destroyed by the liver first). However, sublingual buprenorphine is dissolved under the tongue and is absorbed directly through the tissues, avoiding this "first-pass effect" of the liver.
Some of the effects of buprenorphine are desirable. Others are undesirable and cause the side effects associated with buprenorphine use, which may include but are not limited to:
  • Pain relief
  • Drowsiness
  • Changes in mood, including feelings of unease (dysphoria) or unusually pleasant feelings (euphoria)
  • Cough suppression
  • Slowed or shallow breathing
  • Slowing of the digestive tract
  • Physical dependence.
Interestingly, buprenorphine is a partial (not full) agonist of mu-receptors. This means that it binds to the receptors, but only partially activates them. This usually translates into less of a chance of abuse, although this is not always the case.
Compared to full agonists, such as morphine, partial agonists, including sublingual buprenorphine, usually have a "ceiling effect." This means that there is a certain dosage after which taking more of the drug does not cause any further effects. This might make sublingual buprenorphine less dangerous than full agonist drugs, particularly in the case of an overdose.
Warning: 10 Hidden Sources of Lactose

Sublingual Buprenorphine Information

Terms of Use
Advertise with Us
Contact Us
About eMedTV
Privacy Policy
Copyright © 2006-2018 Clinaero, Inc.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind. Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click Terms of Use for more information.