as sampled by Matthew Gorman
So, a couple months back some complete and utter shithead that was all too likely speeding in my residential neighborhood clipped my cat's backside with his or her car. My poor cat, Willie, had his pelvis cracked in three places and had to have his tail amputated after it became swollen and eventually necrotic. To ease his suffering during the long period of recuperation that followed, the vet prescribed my feline friend some seriously good dope, the semi-synthetic opiate buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine, known on the street as "bupe", is a partial agonist analgesic derived from thebaine typically used in the treatment of chronic pain. As an opioid analgesic, its effects are 25 to 40 times more potent than a morphine dosage of the same size! For this reason buprenorphine is generally administered in smaller dose sizes.
The drug was originally marketed in the 1980's by the pharmaceutical firm of Reckitt & Coleman under the brand names Temgesic (.2 mg sublingual tablets) and Buprenex (a .3mg/ml injectable solution). In 2002, however, the FDA approved Suboxone and Subutex, higher-dose sublingual tablet preparations of buprenorphine to be used in the treatment of opiate addiction.
Because of its extremely long half-life (up to 72 hours!) and its partial agonist properties (meaning that it only bonds partially to the μ-opioid receptors unlike full agonists like morphine which bond completely to these receptors) buprenorphine, much in the same manner as methadone, has been extremely effective in the treatment of addiction to opiates with a shorter duration and higher propensity for addiction such as oxycodone, morphine and heroin.
Conversely, the long reaching effects of buprenorphine make it an ideal recreational drug for people who like to stay high for longer periods of time. Injecting dissolved Subutex tablets or crushing up these tablets and snorting them are the two most common ways in which buprenorphine is used for recreational purposes. The drug is highly popular in Finland and Sweden, So much so, in fact, that in 2007 in one county of Sweden, police authorities confiscated more buprenorphine than they did all the cocaine, ecstasy, and GHB put together!
But while there are the usual dangers associated with any opiate, when it comes to buprenorphine, medical professionals are finding more and more uses for the drug as time goes on. Recently it has met with success being employed as a spinal analgesic in India. And, of course, buprenorphine has been used in the veterinary sciences for quite some time as well.
So now, I know what you're thinking, Matt did your incorrigible druggie ass do some of your poor kitty's pain medicine? Well, let's just say that that's between my cat and me!