Depending on the phase of buprenorphine therapy, the medicine may block opiates for several hours or days, says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Buprenorphine is used for opioid addiction treatment, and there are three phases involved: induction, stabilization and maintenance.
In the induction phase of therapy, buprenorphine is administered to an individual who has not taken opiates for 12-to-24 hours and is undergoing the early stages of withdrawal, explains the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This first phase occurs in a doctor's office, and the medicine may be given orally or via injection depending on the specific prescription. In the second phase of treatment, the patient no longer has cravings, is having few or no side effects and has reduced or stopped use of other opioids. During this phase, it is possible to switch to a dose every other day because of the drug's long half-life. The third phase is reached once a patient is doing well with a steady dose; this phase may be indefinite.
At low doses, buprenorphine produces effects that allow individuals to avoid withdrawal symptoms from other opioids, notes the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Increasing doses increases the effects until a plateau is reached, which means there is a lower risk of abuse and addiction. At higher doses, it blocks the effects of other opioids and can create withdrawal symptoms in individuals with other opioids in their blood.