Partial opioid agonists are the scientific name for medications like buprenorphine, tramadol, butorphanol, and pentazocine. You have most likely heard of buprenorphine because of its applications to treat opioid use disorder. Other partial opioid agonists are commonly used to treat pain.
These medications are called partial opioid agonists because they can influence opioid receptors in the brain, but their effects are much weaker than full-fledged opioid agonists like fentanyl, codeine, or heroin.
Data shows that people can misuse some of these medications. Let’s look at how these medications are used so we can better understand what makes it easy for people to misuse them.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that buprenorphine use has increased substantially over the past decade.