What Are The Side Effects Of Buprenorphine?

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 13, 2021

Buprenorphine is a medication used for treating opioid use disorder and chronic pain. Side effects can occur while taking buprenorphine. Serious side effects may require medical attention.

Buprenorphine Side Effects - What Are The Side Effects Of Buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is a medication that is FDA-approved to treat opioid use disorder. It can be prescribed alone or as part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.

Side effects can occur while taking buprenorphine. If side effects become serious, consider talking to your doctor about recommended steps for managing side effects.

Learn more about using buprenorphine in addiction treatment

Side Effects Of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine can have some physical and cognitive side effects.

Short-term side effects of buprenorphine may include:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • dry mouth
  • constipation
  • stomach pain
  • difficulty falling asleep
  • mouth numbness or redness
  • back pain
  • blurred vision

Side effects while taking buprenorphine can vary. Not everyone may experience the same side effects, and this may indicate a need for a dose adjustment.

Long-Term Side Effects Of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has been associated with some long-term side effects. People who take buprenorphine for a long time may develop drug tolerance and dependence.

People who develop buprenorphine dependence will need to gradually taper their dose if they wish to stop taking it. Otherwise, they may experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms.

Other long-term side effects can include:

  • adrenal insufficiency (hormonal problems)
  • liver damage
  • insomnia
  • constipation

When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is not associated with severe long-term health issues.


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Buprenorphine And Liver Damage

Liver damage can occur with buprenorphine misuse. People who misuse buprenorphine can be at risk for acute liver injury and liver damage.

People who are prescribed buprenorphine may be regularly tested by a doctor to monitor liver function.

Read more about liver damage from buprenorphine

Buprenorphine And Blood Pressure

Buprenorphine use can cause low blood pressure. This can be a sign of an allergic reaction to buprenorphine or be a symptom of adrenal insufficiency.

Read more about how buprenorphine can affect blood pressure

Buprenorphine And Sleep Troubles

Difficulty falling or staying asleep is a commonly reported symptom among people who take buprenorphine. Effects on sleep may be short-term or become chronic.

Learn more about the effects of buprenorphine on sleep

Serious Side Effects From Taking Buprenorphine

Like other prescription drugs, serious side effects can occur in some people who take buprenorphine.

If you or a loved one experiences serious side effects after taking buprenorphine, contact your doctor or a local emergency center right away for further guidance.

Serious side effects may include:

  • skin rashes
  • swelling
  • hives
  • vomiting
  • very slow breathing
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • hallucinations
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • extreme tiredness
  • dark-colored urine
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • light-colored stools
  • symptoms of opioid withdrawal (e.g. tremors, diarrhea, muscle pain, fever)

Taking an excessive dose of buprenorphine, or taking multiple doses within a short period of time can cause drug overdose.

If someone has stopped breathing or collapsed after taking buprenorphine, call 911 for emergency assistance.

Buprenorphine Tolerance And Dependence

Buprenorphine can be habit-forming. People who take buprenorphine may have their dosage adjusted by a doctor over time. This is normal and does not indicate danger.

It is possible to develop a physical dependence on buprenorphine. This may require that a person tapers their dosage, should they wish to stop using buprenorphine.

If you have been taking buprenorphine or another opioid drug regularly for some time, do not stop taking buprenorphine all at once. Talk to a doctor for further guidance.

Buprenorphine Side Effects FAQs

Find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about buprenorphine and its potential side effects.

❓ How Long Do Buprenorphine’s Effects Last?

✔️ Buprenorphine has a long half-life. After taking buprenorphine, its effects can last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, depending on the dosage and formulation.

❓ Can Buprenorphine Get You High?

✔️ Buprenorphine can have mild euphoric effects. Side effects of buprenorphine may vary depending on the type of buprenorphine drug, and if the drug also contains naloxone.

Buprenorphine does not cause the same rush of euphoria as opioids like heroin when taken as directed by a doctor.

❓ Is Buprenorphine Addictive?

✔️ Buprenorphine can cause physical dependence. While there have been reports of psychological addiction, the risk of becoming addicted to buprenorphine is low.

Risk factors for developing buprenorphine addiction include:

  • taking buprenorphine in any way other than prescribed
  • frequent misuse of buprenorphine
  • having a history of opioid misuse
  • taking buprenorphine with other drugs to get high

When taken as directed, buprenorphine can be safe and effective for treating pain and opioid use disorder.

❓ What Is Buprenorphine Used For?

✔️ Buprenorphine (also known as Suboxone) is an opioid-based medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid dependence, opioid withdrawal, and chronic pain.

Buprenorphine can:

  • reduce opioid cravings
  • reduce the discomfort of opioid withdrawal
  • treat opioid dependence
  • provide physical pain relief

❓ Is Buprenorphine The Same As Suboxone?

✔️ Suboxone is the brand name for a drug that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine can be administered by a physician. Suboxone can be administered by a physician in-office, or be prescribed and dispensed for take-home use.

Find Buprenorphine Treatment For Opioid Abuse And Addiction

Buprenorphine is a leading treatment for opioid addiction, alongside behavioral therapy and drug rehab. If you or a loved one is addicted to opioids, we can help you find a treatment program.

Call our helpline today to learn more about buprenorphine and to find treatment for opioid addiction at a rehab center near you.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on July 13, 2021


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