DRUG ABUSE AND DEPENDENCE
Buprenorphine hydrochloride contains buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance.
Buprenorphine hydrochloride contains buprenorphine, a Schedule III controlled substance with an abuse potential similar to other Schedule III opioids. Buprenorphine hydrochloride can be abused and is subject to misuse, addiction and criminal diversion [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS, PRECAUTIONS].
All patients treated with opioids require careful monitoring for signs of abuse and addiction, because use of opioid analgesic products carries the risk of addiction even under appropriate medical use.
Prescription drug abuse is the intentional, non-therapeutic use of prescription drug, even once, for its rewarding psychological or physiological effects.
Drug addiction is a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated substance use and includes: a strong desire to take the drug, difficulties controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to drug use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes physical withdrawal.
"Drug seeking" behavior is very common in persons with substance use disorders. Drug-seeking tactics include emergency calls or visits near the end of the office hours, refusal to undergo appropriate examination, testing, or referral, repeated "loss" of prescriptions, tampering with prescriptions and reluctance to provide prior medical records or contact information for other treating healthcare providers. "Doctor shopping" (visiting multiple prescribers to obtain additional prescriptions) is common among drug abusers and people suffering from untreated addictions. Preoccupation with achieving adequate pain relief can be appropriate behavior in a patient with poor pain control.
Abuse and addiction are separate and distinct from physical dependence and tolerance. Healthcare providers should be aware that addiction may not be accompanied by concurrent tolerance and symptoms of physical dependence in all addicts. In addition, abuse of opioids can occur in the absence of true addiction.
Buprenorphine hydrochloride, like other opioids, can be diverted for non-medical use into illicit channels of distribution. Careful record-keeping of prescribing information, including quantity and frequency, as required by state and federal law, is strongly advised.
Proper assessment of the patient, proper prescribing practices, periodic re-evaluation of therapy, and proper dispensing and storage are appropriate measures that help to limit abuse of opioid drugs.
Risks Specific to Abuse of Buprenorphine Hydrochloride
Abuse of buprenorphine hydrochloride poses a risk of overdose and death. The risk is increased with concurrent abuse of buprenorphine hydrochloride with alcohol and other central nervous system depressants.
Parenteral drug abuse is commonly associated with transmission of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.
Both tolerance and physical dependence can develop during chronic therapy. Tolerance is the need for increasing doses of opioids to maintain a defined effect such as analgesia (in the absence of disease progression or other external factors). Tolerance may occur to both the desired and undesired effects of drugs, and may develop at different rates for different effects.
Physical dependence results in withdrawal symptoms after abrupt discontinuation or a significant dosage reduction of a drug. Withdrawal also may be precipitated through the administration of drugs with opioid antagonist activity (e.g., naloxone, nalmefene), mixed agonist/antagonist analgesics (e.g., pentazocine, butorphanol, nalbuphine), or partial agonists (e.g., buprenorphine). Physical dependence may not occur to a clinically significant degree until after several days to weeks of continued opioid usage.
Buprenorphine hydrochloride should not be abruptly discontinued [see DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION]. If buprenorphine hydrochloride is abruptly discontinued in a physically-dependent patient, an abstinence a withdrawal syndrome may occur. Some or all of the following can characterize this syndrome: restlessness, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, perspiration, chills, myalgia, and mydriasis. Other signs and symptoms also may develop, including: irritability, anxiety, backache, joint pain, weakness, abdominal cramps, insomnia, nausea, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased blood pressure, respiratory rate, or heart rate.
Neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) is an expected and treatable outcome of prolonged use of opioids during pregnancy [see BOXED WARNING, WARNINGS: Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome, PRECAUTIONS: Pregnancy].