Starting buprenorphine at home

For Patients

Buprenorphine treatment at home

Buprenorphine is a medication that can safely be used at home to reduce cravings, and provide relief from symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Typically, buprenorphine is started when you are already in withdrawal. If you were told to start buprenorphine at home, you can use this page to follow the instructions given to you by the provider who wrote your prescription.


Wait at least 12-24 hours since your last opioid use. You can take other prescribed medications to treat symptoms while you wait.


When you are in moderate withdrawal (3+ symptoms) take 2 tablets or films (16 mg) under your tongue.


Wait 30-60 minutes.


Take an additional 1-2 tablets or films if needed. Do not take more than 4 tablets or films (32 mg total) on day 1.

DAY 2 (and beyond)

Take 1 tablet or film (8 mg) in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Continue taking three times daily until your next visit.

How to take buprenorphine

  • Put the buprenorphine under your tongue.
  • Don’t swallow it—the medication won’t work!
  • Keep the medication there until it’s fully dissolved.
  • Drinking water beforehand can help the medication dissolve. Do not talk, eat, drink, or smoke while the medication is dissolving and do not eat or drink for 15 minutes after.
  • To prevent tooth decay, rinse your mouth with water 30 minutes after you take the medication.

Why do I need to be in withdrawal?

Taking buprenorphine when you still have other opioids in your system can cause sudden and severe withdrawal symptoms. This is called precipitated withdrawal. If this happens, take the other medications you were prescribed and an additional 2 tablets or films (16 mg) of buprenorphine. Precipitated withdrawal is unlikely if you are in moderate withdrawal when you start buprenorphine. Moderate withdrawal means that you have three or more of the following symptoms:

RestlessnessBig pupilsStomach crampsTwitchingGoosebumps
YawningWatery eyesBody achesSweatsNausea or vomiting
Runny noseNo appetiteShakingChillsDiarrhea

Common questions about buprenorphine

How long will buprenorphine take to work?

Most people start to feel better after 30 minutes, with the full effects of the medication after about an hour.

Can I overdose on buprenorphine?

You are very unlikely to overdose on buprenorphine alone since it does not affect your breathing as much as other opioids do. Overdoses can occur when buprenorphine is taken with other sedatives, like benzodiazepines and alcohol.

What happens if I use other opioids while on buprenorphine? 

Other opioids will have less of an effect, or none at all, when taken with buprenorphine.

How long can I take buprenorphine for?

Buprenorphine does not only treat withdrawal, it also reduces cravings and treats opioid use disorder. This means it can make sense to take buprenorphine long-term, the same way you might take blood pressure medications, or insulin for diabetes. How long you stay on buprenorphine should be up to you.

What can I do if I took the max daily dose of buprenorphine, but still feel sick? 

Take the other medications you were prescribed for withdrawal symptoms as directed. You can continue to use these medications while taking buprenorphine.

What about methadone?

Methadone is another highly effective medication that is used to treat opioid use disorder. Methadone may work better than buprenorphine for some people. Unlike buprenorphine, which can be prescribed and taken at home, methadone can only be given by special clinics called opioid treatment programs (OTPs). OTPs require frequent in person visits to get your medication and are only located in some areas in our state. If you are interested in methadone, call 1-866-789-1511 to find out if there are programs near you.

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ScalaNW provides better care for people who use drugs.

Staying safe

Practical advice you can use now to prevent overdose.