Mechanism of Drug Action

Opioid Receptors
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It binds to the receptors in the brain that are responsible for opioid intoxication (mu receptors). Buprenorphine has high affinity for these receptors and therefore is not displaced by other opioids. Because it is only a partial agonist, it does not produce as much euphoria but it does suppress withdrawal and cravings. In high doses it can precipitate withdrawal.
Related Resources: 
Description: 
This flow chart for buprenorphine treatment displays the steps to patient recovery, from initial patient contact or referral, through intake process, induction, day #2, stabilization, maintenance, and tapering.
Source: 
Colleen LaBelle, RN/Boston Medical Center
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Physician stage in practice: 
Description: 
One-page handout that provides graphics and a description of the pharmacology of buprenorphine in layman's terms.
Source: 
The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment (NAABT)
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Patient Handouts: