Your healthcare provider will individualize your dosage of sublingual ("under the tongue") buprenorphine (used for treating opioid dependence), based largely on how you respond to the medication. Typically, this medication is started at least four hours after your last dose of other opioids, preferably after withdrawal symptoms start to appear (if you start it too soon, it might actually worsen withdrawal symptoms).
One typical way is to start with Subutex 8 mg on the first day and Subutex 16 mg (the full dosage) on the second day. Often, by the third day you can be switched to Suboxone, a similar medication that is a better option for use outside of a treatment center, since it is less likely to be abused (see Subutex Uses for more information about Suboxone versus Subutex).
Your healthcare provider can start with a lower dose and gradually increase it, but this is definitely more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms than a fast, two-day start.
Your healthcare provider should adjust your dosage (up or down) until you find an amount that adequately reduces your withdrawal symptoms. For most people, this ends up being between 4 and 24 mg per day.
Subutex and Suboxone last long enough that you can take them just once a day.
Some considerations to keep in mind during treatment with buprenorphine include the following:
- Be sure to follow the dosage and directions from your healthcare provider. Different buprenorphine products are dosed differently and taken in different ways.
- This medication is a controlled substance because it can be abused. Proper storage and disposal are important to prevent theft. Keep buprenorphine in a safe place.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be used as prescribed.
- If you are unsure about anything related to dosing with buprenorphine, please talk with your healthcare provider, nurse, or pharmacist.