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Nalbuphine (Nubain) is a synthetic opioid drug that has chemical similarities to opioid antagonist drugs, as it blocks the effects on opiate receptors in the brain, and opioid agonist drugs, as it attaches to opioid receptors and results in specific effects, such as pain suppression.
Nalbuphine is the only opioid narcotic drug of this type that is not currently listed as a controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Nonetheless, it is a drug that has significant risks associated with use.
Nalbuphine is used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. It is not a drug that is often prescribed by physicians compared to other narcotic medications used for pain control, such as Vicodin and OxyContin. Its primary use occurs in clinical settings, such as a hospital or medical clinic, where it is often administered by injection. There is an oral form of nalbuphine that is prescribed to some individuals, and this is the most likely form of nalbuphine that is abused.
The DEA and a number of other sources report that nalbuphine is not considered to be a primary drug of abuse. Part of the reason for this is that individuals who have an opioid use disorder are very likely to suffer an immediate withdrawal syndrome if they use nalbuphine. This is due to nalbuphine’s very powerful opioid antagonist effects.
The drug is abused in some cases by bodybuilders who also abuse steroids because it can help to burn fat and relieve fatigue and pain associated with heavy training. It may be abused by some healthcare professionals and others, as there are also a number of anecdotal reports of people claiming to abuse nalbuphine.
Despite being considered a drug that does not have a high potential for abuse, nalbuphine users may develop physical dependence on the drug.
Nalbuphine is considered to be a relatively safe drug when it is used for medicinal purposes, but there are several risks to using nalbuphine.
In the short-term, individuals who overdose on nalbuphine may experience life-threatening suppression of the respiratory system. This can result in significant damage to organs, such as the brain, heart, and other tissues due to a lack of oxygen and/or can potentially be fatal.
Individuals who have developed a substance use disorder as a result of abusing nalbuphine will most likely require a structured treatment approach. This will generally include some form of withdrawal management program to assist the individual through the withdrawal process, intensive counseling to help the individual understand the reasons for their substance abuse, the development of positive coping skills, the implementation of a long-term relapse management program, and a number of support mechanisms. For many individuals with substance use disorders, community support groups and 12-Step groups provide a positive method of social support that assists in staying sober.
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