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About 2.4 million adults are prescribed buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid, to address opioid use disorder, according to the report. In treatment, it substitutes for stronger opioids like heroin to prevent withdrawals. The end goal is for patients to then taper off use of buprenorphine as well. Discovering that some patients are undermining the treatment should be a red flag for clinicians, according to Jarratt Pytell, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and co-author of the study.