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What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is an injectable form of buprenorphine recently approved by the FDA. Whereas buprenorphine, or Suboxone, is typically taken under the tongue daily, Sublocade is taken as an injection once a month. This provides a steady dose of the drug with no need for daily maintenance.

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it attaches to opioid receptors in the brain the same way an opioid does, but it does not produce euphoria the way opioids do. Buprenorphine also has a ceiling effect, which means above a certain dose, the effect does not become stronger. This means there is little chance of overdose.

Sublocade is intended for use in the later stages of treatment. Detox typically requires a higher dose of buprenorphine to manage the more intense withdrawal symptoms and is tapered during the post-acute phase. After that, it may take some adjustment to find the right stable dosage. During this period, the doctor has to be able to increase or reduce the dose, which means a monthly injection is not an option. Once the dosage has been steady for at least seven days, you can start getting Sublocade injections.

Like other opioid treatment medications, such as methadone, naltrexone, and sublingual buprenorphine, Sublocade is most effective in conjunction in the context of a comprehensive treatment program that includes therapy.

The major advantage of Sublocade over Vivitrol, the other monthly injectable opioid treatment, is Sublocade both reduces cravings and prevents opioids from causing euphoria, while Vivitrol only does the latter. People receiving monthly injections of Vivitrol, often by court order, still experience cravings. Sometimes these cravings are so intense they will try to overcome the Vivitrol with a high dose of heroin or fentanyl, which greatly increases the risk of overdose.

Until now, the major drawback of buprenorphine has been that you have to take it daily, which means if you decide you really want to get high, you only have to wait a day for drug to wear off. Sublocade entails a longer-term commitment to sobriety and can get you through cravings that might fluctuate by the day or by the hour.

Although, Sublocade is relatively safe on its own, it still has some of the physiological effects of an opioid and should not be mixed with other drugs, especially alcohol or benzos or it may suppress breathing and heart rate. There are also some possible side effects, such as constipation, nausea, headaches, and abnormal liver function.

Like any form of treatment or medication, buprenorphine works better for some people than others. Some people say buprenorphine saved their lives, while others say it made them feel terrible. Sublocade, by extension, will probably be similar. Being honest with your doctor and therapist will help you figure out what method of treatment works best for you.

The bottom line is that every new treatment is a new avenue for recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help you detox and decide on a treatment strategy. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.