U.S. Pain Foundation seeks to educate its members about all possible forms of treatment. Buprenorphine is one pain medication that has recently made headlines as a safer alternative to traditional opioid medications. Because it is a partial opioid agonist, it alleviates pain with less risk of euphoria and physical dependence as well as a smaller chance of respiratory depression.

U.S. Pain recently collaborated with The Herald Group to conduct an educational survey on members’ experiences with buprenorphine. More than 800 individuals responded. Here are some of the key findings from that survey:

  • 50 percent of all respondents said they were aware of buprenorphine as a treatment for pain
  • 11 percent said they were using buprenorphine as a treatment for pain
    • Of those taking buprenorphine, 30 percent said they felt slightly better, while 18 percent felt significantly better
    • Of those taking buprenorphine, 63 percent said they were required to try another medication first
  • 55 percent of all respondents said they would prefer to be told by their health care provider about medication options with less potential for abuse or addiction
  • The treatment options most commonly discussed with health care providers were immediate-release opioids (71 percent), anticonvulsants (69 percent), NSAIDs (68 percent) and muscle relaxants (68 percent)
  • 30 percent said they felt their treatment decisions were driven by their insurance coverage or cost, not their health care provider
  • 65 percent of all respondents said they would be somewhat or very likely to try buprenorphine because it has less potential for addiction and misuse and has less risk for respiratory depression

“There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings around buprenorphine because it can be used as an ingredient in medications for two very different conditions: pain and substance use disorder,” says Nicole Hemmenway, Interim CEO, U.S. Pain Foundation. “We were interested to see that most of our members had heard of it and that the majority are open to learning about medications that may have less risk of addiction. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, but we think it’s important for people to be aware of their options.”