Human pharmacology and abuse potential of the analgesic buprenorphine: a potential agent for treating narcotic addiction

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978 Apr;35(4):501-16. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.1978.01770280111012.


Buprenorphine was evaluated for its abuse potential and utility in treating narcotic addiction. The drug was morphine-like but was 25 to 50 times more potent than morphine and was longer-acting. Little if any physical dependence of clinical significance was produced by buprenorphine. The effects of morphine to 120-mg doses were blocked by buprenorphine, a blockade that persisted for 29 1/2 hours. In man, buprenorphine has less intrinsic activity than morphine, and as such, as a low abuse potential. Moreover, the drug has potential for treating narcotic addiction since it is acceptable to addicts, is long-acting, produces a low level of physical dependence such that patients may be easily detoxified, is less toxic than drugs used for maintenance therapy, and blocks the effects of narcotics.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Buprenorphine / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Euphoria / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / administration & dosage
  • Middle Aged
  • Morphinans / therapeutic use*
  • Morphine / administration & dosage
  • Naloxone / administration & dosage
  • Narcotics*
  • Pulse / drug effects
  • Pupil / drug effects
  • Receptors, Opioid / drug effects*
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / etiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / etiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*


  • Morphinans
  • Narcotics
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Naloxone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Morphine
  • Methadone