In May of 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a buprenorphine implant called Probuphine for use in treating opioid addiction. The implant provides users with a low dose of Buprenorphine over a six-month period and is meant to be used by patients who have already been on a low to a mid-range dose of sublingual buprenorphine. The benefits of the implant are numerous, including most specifically improved patient adherence to the treatment regimen. In addition, the implant is quite convenient and does not require patients to remember to take daily medication.

[su_note note_color=”#F0F0F0″]The initial study for Probuphine showed that it worked just as well if not better than sublingual buprenorphine does. However, the study only looked at 177 individuals of which 87 used the implant while the other 90 used the sublingual medication. In the future, larger studies will be performed to give improved and more trustworthy results. This study showed that nearly 86 percent of participants using the implant abstained from opioid use while only 72 percent of sublingual users met the same results.[/su_note]

Factors to Consider with Buprenorphine Usage

As with any medication, buprenorphine implants do come with some risks and side effects. Buprenorphine is a low-dose opioid, and, as such, it can create side effects consistent with a depressant. For example, some users may experience respiratory depression, and some extreme situations may result in coma or even death. In addition, the implant should only be used for six months before being removed. The implant may occasionally migrate beneath the skin or may protrude from the skin. In the case of a protrusion, the implant should be kept away from children who may experience profound side effects, including respiratory depression. Finally, nerve damage may occur during implant insertion, but this is rare.

Most patients experience great results using a form of buprenorphine to maintain opioid abstinence. For the best results, patients should take part in all of the prescribed treatment regimen, including behavioral therapy or group therapy. Following a treatment plan accurately and for the prescribed length of time leads to the best results for drug rehab and may help control future relapses.

[su_note note_color=”#F0F0F0″]Dr. Matney can discuss all types of treatments, including the possibility of buprenorphine implants, with patients and their family members at First Step Recovery Center in Victorville, California. While buprenorphine may not be for every recovering addict, it has shown promising results for many recovering from an opioid dependency.[/su_note]