Abusing opiate medications disrupts the natural endorphins of the brain. Endorphins help to give feelings of pleasure. Healthy people will feel content when they've accomplished something or had a meaningful conversation with someone they care about. Opiates mimic the natural endorphins and as a response, the brain shuts down production of the natural neurochemical. When patients taper down to a low enough level of buprenorphine, the patient's brain will gradually return to normal.
When paired with counseling, this method has a high rate of success in allowing patients to stay clean and enjoy their lives again.