Nubain is the brand name of the semi-synthetic opioid (narcotic) Nalbuphine, which is used commercially as an analgesic (pain reliever). It is commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain after surgery or childbirth.

In recent years, bodybuilders and athletes have abused this potent narcotic to eliminate their pain, so they can continue to train and compete without interruption.

nubain chemical structure

Fig 1. Nubain Chemical Structure

Table of Contents


Nubain belongs in the group of substances known as mixed agonist-antagonists analgesics; in fact, it was developed as a means to find an opioid with less abuse potential.

Nubain was approved for marketing in the USA in 1978, and it is the only opioid analgesic not controlled. In 1971, Nubain was added as a schedule II compound, but Endo Labs petitioned the DEA to exclude it, and in 1976 it was removed.

Although it is not a federally controlled substance, it is still not available over the counter in the USA, and a prescription is needed for its use. The state of Kentucky has added Nubain as a schedule IV narcotic.

nubain amp nalbuphrine

Fig 2. Nubain Amp (nalbuphrine)

How it Works

Nubain is a pain reliever. It works by blocking certain receptor sites in the central nervous system (CNS), which helps to decrease pain. It does not heal injuries, it merely tricks your body into not feeling that you are injured.


In the May 2000 issue of MuscleMag International, it was claimed that 6 out of the top 10 Mr. Olympia contenders used nubain regularly. Although Nubain was developed to be less dangerous than other drugs in its class, it is still an opiate and closely related to drugs like heroin. This makes it potentially extremely addictive.

Bodybuilders who use Nubain with existing injuries, usually take the drug ahead of their workouts and report no pain. Although this might seem like a miracle drug, it merely masks injuries, it does not heal them. In fact, once this habit is started, it is very difficult to break. The bodybuilder will continue taking nubain as the injuries become more chronic and permanent due to continued training, as a way to temporarily numb away the pain.

Ahead of a competition, Nubain will assist in increasing thyroid hormone output, which will speed up metabolism. Another interesting way it is used leading up to a contest is to relieve the competitor from the mental and physical stresses.

Athletes who use Nubain should be very careful not to abuse this drug, and use only if absolutely necessary, when there are no other options available. Remember, there is very little difference between recreational use and abuse with this drug.

Side effects

The side effects of nubain are less likely than with other narcotics, but there is a chance of severe allergic reactions and overdose, as well as these symptoms.

Common Side Effects:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Weak breathing
  • Heart rate volatility
  • Confusion and hallucinations
  • Weakness or drowsiness

Nubain is also addictive and can easily be abused by those looking to numb the pain from injuries. Athletes who are pounding their bodies with heavy weights will risk further long term problems when taking Nubain. In fact, it is possible to sustain a severe injury during a workout and not realize it until the drug has cleared out of the body.

Dosage and Half-Life

Nubain is most effective when injected IM (intramuscular), but it can be injected subcutaneously as well. Typically, bodybuilders will inject 5-10mgs per day. The half life is around 3-6 hours, so athletes can easily time their workouts around administration of the drug. As a result, they will be pain free during the training session.


Nubain is a very serious opiate analgesic (pain reliever), which is being abused in the bodybuilding community by those looking to numb away their injuries. I do not believe it has a place in bodybuilding, as it's a recreational drug from the heroin family. It's a good way to get hooked on rec drugs without even realizing it.


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