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What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a prescription medication containing buprenorphine that is used to treat opioid addiction. Since it is a narcotic, it is only available in specialty programs. It must be administered by certified healthcare professionals. The medication is known to reduce cravings, mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms, and replace the effects of opioids that someone is addicted to.

The FDA approved the use of Sublocade for the treatment of opioid use disorders in 2017, making it a fairly new drug. However, it is a highly effective form of medication-assisted treatment because it has little to no abuse potential. If you are suffering from opioid use disorder, Sublocade treatment may be right for you.

Sublocade vs. Other Medication-Assisted Treatment Drugs

Unlike Suboxone, Sublocade is an injection of buprenorphine that is administered once a month. As an extended-release medication, the injection slowly absorbs into the body over the course of a month. Furthermore, it should not be taken more than once a month. Many people prefer Sublocade over Suboxone because they don’t have to worry about taking a sublingual film each day. In addition, Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone while Sublocade only contains buprenorphine.

Vivitrol is another popular drug used in medication-assisted treatment. While both Sublocade and Vivitrol are monthly injections, they contain two completely different drugs. Vivitrol contains naloxone, an opioid antagonist that blocks all opioids from attaching to the brain’s receptors. Vivitrol requires a person to be completely detoxed from opioids before getting the shot, but Sublocade administration can begin during the detox process. In addition, Sublocade has opioid properties that reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings to help people stay away from more dangerous opioids like oxycodone, heroin, and fentanyl.

How Sublocade Works

When a person abuses opioids, the chemicals in the drugs attach to specific receptors in the brain that activate euphoric and pleasurable feelings. The flood of feel-good endorphins in the brain is a rewarding effect that can increase the likelihood of persistent opioid abuse. When a person becomes addicted to opioids, the body experiences withdrawal symptoms when opioids are not taken.

Sublocade is a partial opioid agonist. It attaches to the same receptors that opioids do, making it difficult for other opioids to attach to these receptors. As a result, it blocks the rewarding and pleasurable effects produced by opioids. However, the drug is an opioid itself, so it suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The primary active ingredient in Sublocade is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, binds to the same receptors that opioids do, but it does not produce the intense euphoria that opioids produce.

Sublocade is a subcutaneous injection that is given in the abdomen and releases slowly over time, allowing for a constant concentration of buprenorphine to remain in the blood over the course of a month. The injection can only be given after a person has received an alternative form of buprenorphine treatment, such as Suboxone. After a person has received doses of buprenorphine, they can get the Sublocade injection.

Potential Side Effects of Sublocade

Sublocade is generally very safe to take, but all medications have potential side effects. Some side effects that may occur with the Sublocade injection include:

  • Pain, itching, and redness at the injection site
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic reactions
  • Slowed breathing
  • Low hormone levels
  • Physical dependence

If you begin using Sublocade and experience any of these side effects, you should contact your addiction specialist immediately.

Who Shouldn’t Take Sublocade

Sublocade isn’t for everyone. It is crucial that you are honest with your healthcare provider before you start Sublocade treatment. Before you get your first injection, you should let your healthcare provider know if you have any of the following medical conditions:

  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Problems urinating
  • Scoliosis
  • Liver problems
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Adrenal gland problems
  • History of alcoholism
  • Addison’s disease
  • Mental health conditions
  • Pregnancy or planning to become pregnant
  • Breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed

Additionally, you should let your healthcare provider know about any medications or supplements you are taking. Sublocade may interact with certain medications, so you should take the time to be thorough and honest with your physician before starting Sublocade.

Using Sublocade for MAT

For the first two months of Sublocade treatment, patients will receive a 300 mg subcutaneous injection. After the first two months, Sublocade maintenance consists of a 100 mg dose each month. If a dose is missed, the patient should get the next dose as soon as possible.

Clinical studies have proven that Sublocade may be up to 80% effective in treating opioid use disorders.[3] As a maintenance therapy, Sublocade can be used as long as needed, given that the patient stays sober and remains medically stable. While some people may only need the drug for a short period of time, people with chronic opioid use disorders may need to remain on the drug indefinitely. Similarly, patients should check in with their doctors on a regular basis to make sure they are staying sober and are not experiencing any serious side effects. In addition, if a patient wants to stop taking the drug, they should first consult with their physician.

Since Sublocade can lead to physical dependency, it can cause withdrawal symptoms if it is stopped abruptly. Instead of stopping cold-turkey, patients should work with their health care provider to come up with a plan for getting off of the medication.

When Sublocade is used simultaneously with addiction treatment or behavioral therapy, people are likely to achieve a full recovery from opioid use disorder, There are many benefits to using Sublocade. After all, it is low maintenance and helps get rid of cravings. If you are seeking medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, contact a medication-assisted treatment center near you as soon as possible.


  1. https://www.sublocade.com/how-sublocade-works?gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=CjwKCAiA__HvBRACEiwAbViuUypyH_29Ie8mJ8le9YmOUONXvF8Kz1mGxSH8cQ2dL4wKrXBiM4UdixoC74QQAvD_BwE
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326658.php#sublocade-vs-suboxone
  3. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/timothy-o-shea/2018/01/sublocade-for-opioid-use-disorder-what-pharmacists-should-know

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