Buprenorphine is an Anti-Craving medication for Drug Addiction

FDA approved medications such as suboxone (buprenorphine), methadone and naloxone are popular treatments often used in detox and residential addiction treatment programs. These medications have also been approved for use in adolescents over the age of 16. In fact, buprenorphine is an anti-craving medication for drug addiction and is often considered the gold standard for care when used to treat and reduce symptoms of opioid use disorder. However, it still has not been adopted as a standard of care with adolescent addiction treatment programs. This comes during a time when teens and young adults are experiencing substance overdose and death at an alarming rate.

In some cases, withdrawal can be so severe it becomes life threatening. On these occasions, MAT and other forms of medication management are utilized as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. They help patients manage the discomforts of opioid and substance withdrawal. According to recent studies, there is a limited number of residential programs for adolescents that use FDA approved medications for treatment. And parents of young teens are having a difficult time finding a residential treatment program that will offer these types of effective medications.

On a black background the word buprenorphine is written out next to pills, a syringe and pink stethoscope representing anti-craving medication for drug addiction.

Of an estimated 350 residential treatment centers across the nation, about 160 specialize in teen and adolescent addiction recovery. Of those rehab centers, only about 24% utilize FDA approved medications as a method of treatment despite recommendations from the American Society of Addiction Medication and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Substance and Alcohol use among Teens and Adolescents are on the rise

Drug overdose deaths are reaching record highs and spreading to more and more young people. Researchers believe this dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in teens and adolescents ages 14-18 is driven most likely by illicit and counterfeit substances. The increase in synthetic lab made substances, such as fentanyl, poses a dangerous threat. These substances are often created to be more potent compared to traditional opioids such as heroin or cocaine. On top of that, prescription and illicit substances have also become more widely available and accessible.

According to a 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 9.2 million people ages 12 and older were abusing opioids. Fentanyl was the most commonly abused. Among people between the ages of 10-19, fatal overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased by 182% from 2019 to 2021.

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Why aren’t adolescent focused addiction programs utilizing FDA approved medication for treatment?

The views on addiction are slowly starting to change. Addiction went from being considered bad behavior to a dangerous medical condition. This is especially true for addiction in teens and adolescents. Traditional substance addiction programs offer treatments such as art therapy and horse therapy. These can all work well within a comprehensive plan. However, most facilities fail to offer an important and sometimes vital treatment: medication treatment. In fact, many families seeking treatment are having a difficult time getting medications such as buprenorphine, for their teens and young adults.

Advocates and doctors believe buprenorphine is being underused in the area of adolescent addiction treatment. Evidence shows that buprenorphine can prevent overdose in teens and adolescents. Advocates say this and other types of approved medications should also become a standard of care for young people suffering from substance or opioid addiction.

Using an Anti-Craving Medication for Drug Addiction: Buphrenorphine

Buprenorphine is the generic name for the brand of medication called Suboxone. It comes in a small pill or a film that dissolves under the tongue. This anti-craving medication for drug addiction is commonly used to treat people ages 16 and older who suffer from severe opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine helps prevent and manage opioid withdrawal symptoms as well as helping to normalize brain function. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, patients on buprenorphine for opioid use disorder can potentially cut their risk of death in as much half. It is one of the most effective medications and has become the standard in opioid use disorder treatment.

Buprenorphine is a partial agonist. This means it only partially activates the opioid receptors producing the same euphoric and sedative effects, but at a much lower dose. This medication is often prescribed to help slowly diminish the effects of physical dependence to opioids, decrease cravings, and can lower the potential for misuse and overdose. How long does buprenorphine stay in your system? The medication can last anywhere from 5 to 8 days.

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We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

This synthetic opioid was developed in the 1960’s and was initially restricted in use through a special waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration. That policy recently ended when President Biden’s administration amended the Controlled Substance Act. When taken as recommended by a medical physician, it is safe and effective with a low potential for physical dependence. Some side effects of buprenorphine include:

  • Constipation and cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Sleep issues and fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Palpitations
  • Disturbance in attention span
  • Muscle aches
  • Respiratory depression (in severe cases)
  • Dependence and withdrawal (in severe cases)


Hotel California by the Sea utilizes FDA approved medications such as buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment for men, women and young adults. The substance use disorder treatment program specializes in treating clients who suffer from opioid abuse and dependence. Through intensive therapies along with the appropriate medication dosage, clients will receive a well-rounded treatment plan. This ensures a higher success rate of recovery and sobriety.

Hotel California by the Sea provides various levels of care including substance detox, residential treatment, PHP and IOP programming. The substance use disorder treatment program also utilizes effective therapies such as CBT, DBT, and EMDR therapy. These unique therapies help clients discover any underlying mental health conditions that may be present. Co-occurring mental health conditions are a common occurrence in substance and alcohol addiction. We provide all the necessary tools and resources for clients to overcome their addictions.