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An OBOT program utilizes buprenorphine, or buprenorphine compounds such as Suboxone®, to eliminate withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for illicit opioids. It is similar to a traditional opioid treatment program in that it supports the medication with in-house counseling and recovery services to provide a comprehensive treatment plan. However, OBOTs do not require a daily visit for medication. Instead they operate like a physician’s office where medication is prescribed and then filled at the patient’s pharmacy.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but not to the extent of a full agonist such as methadone. Buprenorphine has a “ceiling effect”, lessening its ability to be used to get “high” or feel euphoria because taking more buprenorphine does not lead to more effects. This ceiling effect also reduces side effects and the risk of overdose.
Buprenorphine compounds such as Suboxone® contain naloxone, added to decrease the likelihood of misuse. Naloxone causes no opioid effect and has no negative reaction when taken under the tongue as prescribed. However, if it is used in other ways, it can lead to instant withdrawal. This consequence of misuse is a benefit of Suboxone® not only to the patient, but to others who might illicitly attempt to misuse the medication.
For more information about medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine, visit our
Frequently Asked Questions page.