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Precautions and Warnings With Buprenorphine

Specific Buprenorphine Warnings and Precautions

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this drug include the following:
  • Buprenorphine can cause potentially life-threatening slow and irregular breathing (called "respiratory depression"). Certain people have an increased risk for respiratory depression with this drug, including older adults, people who already have breathing difficulty, and people who are taking certain other medications. Signs of respiratory depression include:
    • Extreme drowsiness
    • Unresponsiveness
    • Infrequent, deep sighing breaths
    • Unusual snoring.
  • For buprenorphine patches (Butrans), heat may cause too much of the medication to be released, increasing the risk of an overdose. Therefore, you should avoid anything that could heat the skin, including:
    • Heating pads
    • Electric blankets
    • Hot tubs
    • Saunas
    • Tanning beds
    • Hot baths
    • Sunbathing.
Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop a fever, or your body temperature increases from physical exercise while taking this drug.
  • Because buprenorphine only partially activates opioid receptors, it may cause withdrawal symptoms to occur if given to people who are already dependent on other opioids and who continue to take other opioids.
  • Suboxone contains naloxone in addition to buprenorphine. This ingredient is added specifically to reduce the misuse of the drug by injection (it is intended to be taken under the tongue). If you abuse Suboxone by injection, especially while still taking other opioids, intense withdrawal symptoms are highly likely to occur (see Can You Shoot Up Suboxone?).
  • Buprenorphine is a narcotic medication with a significant potential for abuse. Do not take the drug more frequently or at a higher dose than was prescribed. If you feel you may be developing a problem with buprenorphine abuse, please seek help from a healthcare provider.
  • 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 buprenorphine affects you. This medicine may 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 the drug if you have any of these conditions.
  • Do not drink alcohol while using this medication. Consuming alcohol with buprenorphine could increase your risk of serious side effects, including:
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