Last updated: 09/17/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Buprenorphine, one of the newer opiate addiction treatment medications, works along the same lines as methadone in terms of helping recovering addicts maintain abstinence on a day-to-day basis. While effective as a treatment solution, addiction’s aftereffects can stay with a person for an indeterminate length of time depending on the length and severity of his or her addiction.
Considering the often long-term effects left in addiction’s wake, treating addiction’s aftereffects rather than curing addiction itself becomes the overall objective in recovery. Understanding the buprenorphine treatment process and its overall purpose in recovery can go a long way towards helping you make the most of what this treatment approach has to offer.
Treating Addiction vs. Curing Addiction
During the course of abusing opiates, the brain undergoes certain chemical and structural changes as a result of the drug’s damaging effects. These changes account for why some people have such a difficult time maintaining abstinence in recovery. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the degree of damage caused, for the most part, determines whether a treatment “cure” is possible.
In cases of severe addiction, helping a person manage the lingering effects of chronic opiate abuse on the mind and body becomes the primary goal of treatment. Under these conditions, addiction functions in much the same way as a chronic medical condition, such as asthma or diabetes at which point curing the condition has more to do with managing the symptoms of the disease rather than trying to eliminate it. Buprenorphine treatment works to manage the symptoms of chronic addiction while equipping a person with the coping strategies needed to maintain continued abstinence.
Buprenorphine Treatment Components
Addictive opiates like heroin and OxyContin, force brain cells to release massive amounts of the body’s own “feel good” neurotransmitter chemicals. Over time, opiate effects overwork and damage cells, leaving them unable to function on their own. Consequently, by the time a person enters treatment recovery, widespread brain chemical imbalances have developed. These imbalances account for much of the discomfort and emotional distress experienced throughout the recovery process.
As a medication therapy, buprenorphine produces opiate-like effects at a slow-release rate, according to the National Institute of Justice. In effect, buprenorphine treatment works to support brain cell functions and restore a natural chemical balance in the brain.
Opiate addiction can have lasting effects on a person’s thinking in terms of keeping his or her attentions focused on the “need” to use the drug. This state of mind will persist regardless of whether a person receives the buprenorphine treatment drug.
For these reasons, buprenorphine treatment incorporates psychosocial interventions as a means for helping recovering addicts replace the addiction-based mindset with a drug-free lifestyle. Psychosocial interventions used typically include:
- 12-Step support group work
- Group therapy
- Individual psychotherapy
- Relapse prevention training
When all is said and done, the brain’s overall health determines a person’s quality of life at any given moment. While the damaging effects of chronic opiate addiction can have lasting effects on brain health, addiction’s aftereffects can be treated and managed making the likelihood of a successful recovery all the more possible. Buprenorphine treatment does a good job at providing needed physical support for normal brain functioning while also addressing the issues and challenges you’re likely to face in recovery.