About Opioid Dependence

Why are opioids prescribed?

Opioids are prescribed to relieve pain. Drugs like morphine may be prescribed after a major surgery, while codeine is sometimes used to treat a bad cough. There is a range of reasons to prescribe opioids, and this may contribute to how prevalent they are in the United States. 1

If you are prescribed opioid medicines, you should take them exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take medicines that are not yours. Always ask questions when your doctor gives you a new or different medicine. When you’re getting a prescription filled, know why you are taking it, for how long, and if there are risks associated with the medicine.

If your doctor prescribes you an opioid medication, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Does this medicine come with a risk of dependence?
  • Are there pain relief options with a lower risk of addiction?
  • How do I know if I am addicted to a prescribed medicine?
  • What are my options if I think I am addicted to a prescribed medicine?
  • In 2014, more people died in the United States from a drug overdose than in any other year of our history, 2 and 46 people die each day from an overdose of prescribed painkillers. 3 If you are prescribed an opioid medication, it is important that you understand the medicine you are taking.

    Always remember, the most important thing is the health and wellbeing of you and your family. If you are prescribed an opioid medicine, understand why your doctor has prescribed an opioid, and do not hesitate to ask your doctor questions.

  • 1 NIH. Prescription Drug Abuse PDF/Pg2/Col2/Para2; Pg3/Col1/Para1
  • 2 CDC. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report/Pg2/Col1/Para4
  • 3 CDC. Vital Signs. Opioid Painkiller Prescribing/Pg1/Image on left

Back to Top ^

Important Safety Information


BUNAVAIL® (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film (CIII) is a prescription medicine indicated for the maintenance treatment
of opioid dependence. BUNAVAIL should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.

Prescription use of this product is limited under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act (DATA).


Keep BUNAVAIL (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film (CIII) out of the sight and reach of children. Ingestion of BUNAVAIL by a child may cause severe breathing problems and death. If a child takes BUNAVAIL, get emergency help right away.

Do not take BUNAVAIL if you are allergic to buprenorphine or naloxone, as serious negative effects including anaphylactic shock, have been reported.

Do not take BUNAVAIL before the effects of other opioids (e.g., heroin, methadone, oxycodone, morphine) have lessened as you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Do not drive, operate heavy machinery, or perform any other dangerous activities until you know how BUNAVAIL affects you.

BUNAVAIL contains buprenorphine, an opioid that can cause physical dependence. Your doctor can tell you more about the difference between physical dependence and drug addiction. Do not stop taking BUNAVAIL without talking to your doctor. You could become sick with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms because your body has become used to this medicine.

Do not switch from BUNAVAIL to other medicines that contain buprenorphine without talking with your doctor. The amount of buprenorphine in a dose of BUNAVAIL is not the same as the amount of buprenorphine in other medicines. Your doctor will prescribe a dose of BUNAVAIL that may be different than other buprenorphine-containing medicines you may have been taking.

BUNAVAIL can cause serious life-threatening breathing problems, overdose and death, particularly when taken by the intravenous (IV) route in combination with benzodiazepines, sedatives, tranquilizers or alcohol. You should not drink alcohol while taking BUNAVAIL, as this can lead to loss of consciousness or even death.

Like other opioids (e.g., heroin, methadone, oxycodone, morphine), BUNAVAIL may produce orthostatic hypotension ('dizzy spells') in ambulatory individuals.

Common side effects of BUNAVAIL include headache, drug withdrawal syndrome, lethargy (lack of energy), sweating, constipation, decrease in sleep (insomnia), fatigue and sleepiness.

Because BUNAVAIL contains naloxone, injecting BUNAVAIL may cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as pain, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, sleep problems, and cravings.

BUNAVAIL can be abused in a manner similar to other opioids, legal or illicit. Keep BUNAVAIL in a safe place. Do not give your BUNAVAIL to other people, it can cause them harm or even death. Selling or giving away this medicine is against the law.

BUNAVAIL is not recommended in patients with severe hepatic impairment. BUNAVAIL may be used with caution for maintenance treatment in patients with moderate hepatic impairment.

Before taking BUNAVAIL, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking BUNAVAIL, tell your doctor immediately as there may be significant risks to you and your baby; your baby may have symptoms of withdrawal at birth.

Before taking BUNAVAIL, talk to your doctor if you are breast-feeding or plan to breast-feed your baby. BUNAVAIL can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby. Monitor your baby for increased sleepiness and breathing problems. Your doctor should tell you about the best way to feed your baby if you are taking BUNAVAIL.

This is not a complete list of potential adverse events associated with BUNAVAIL buccal film. Please see full Prescribing Information for a complete list.

To report negative side effects associated with taking BUNAVAIL buccal film, please call 1-800-469-0261. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, please see full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for BUNAVAIL® (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film (CIII).

Important Safety Information and Indication

BUNAVAIL® (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film (CIII) is a prescription medicine indicated for the maintenance treatment of opioid dependence. BUNAVAIL should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.