Drug and Alcohol - Medication-Assisted Treatment - Opioid Addiction

Thinking About Using Sublocade? Get the Facts Today

Thinking About Using Sublocade? Get the Facts Today

Sublocade has worked miracles (and saved lives) for many caught in opioid addictions. Get your facts about this treatment medication in our blog!

Have you (or a loved one) been recommended Sublocade as a part of your treatment for substance abuse or addiction?

In that case, you need to know a bit more about this medication, its side effects, and the general sentiments about using Sublocade as the medicine of choice.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Sublocade as the first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine product for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder (OUD) in adult patients.

What Is Sublocade?

Opioid use disorder, better known as opioid addiction, is a serious problem in the country. It’s increasingly being treated by using Sublocade—a medication that is often prescribed for OUD. It is usually prescribed as part of the overall treatment plan to help reduce the use/dependency of opioids. Sublocade can be very helpful in reducing opioid withdrawal symptoms among people who are struggling to overcome their opioid addiction.

The main ingredient in Sublocade is buprenorphine. This medication presents a sense of assurance since the FDA has approved it. It is among the few medications that have FDA approval for the treatment of opioid use disorder. For better results, it should ideally be used along with therapy, counseling, and other behavioral therapies.

What Is the Most Common Reason to Prescribe a Sublocade Injection?

A physician might recommend Sublocade if you have been searching for a medicine that can fast-track your recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD). Usually administered to people who have moderate-to-severe OUD, this medicine helps in controlling the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. It can also help people struggling with detoxification.

Opioids are among the most common medications used to treat severe pain. Addiction to opioids makes users continue taking the drug despite realizing that this addiction has destructive effects on their health—called opioid addiction.

Dependence on opioids can be pronounced. Soon, they tend to dictate how people conduct themselves in their everyday lives. If you want to quit opioids, but the withdrawal symptoms seem too hard to beat, Sublocade can surely help. For getting Sublocade shots, you cannot decide the course of medication yourself. You should have the opioid withdrawal symptoms supervised by a specialist. Only an addiction rehabilitation expert can decide whether to use orally administered buprenorphine or the Sublocade injection. It is wrong to assume that this is a standalone medication. It is used in conjunction with psychotherapy for the holistic treatment of opioid addiction. 

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You Should Understand OUD & MAT if You Are Considering Sublocade

Opioid use disorder or OUD has emerged as a chronic disease that can lead to severe challenges in performing day-to-day functions apart from physical distress. Patients diagnosed with OUD can benefit from medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a multi-dimensional treatment that includes therapy and prescription medicines. When buprenorphine is used as a part of this approach, the addict is bound to be less affected by opioid withdrawal symptoms. Such medications help the person navigate through the worst phases of addiction withdrawal, keeping away relapsing and boosting chances of sticking to the long-term treatment. Buprenorphine works effectively by curbing the effects of opioids. It is most likely that your physician will recommend treating the OUD with Sublocade and MAT—a method that finds increasing usage across the country, often used in the rehab center and inpatient/outpatient settings for addiction treatments.

Basics of Getting Access to and Using Sublocade

While Sublocade reviews are usually positive, a first-time user might have many apprehensions about how this medication is used. Typically, Buprenorphine is injected subcutaneously. This is done under the supervision of a medical practitioner. The Sublocade shot should be administered properly to avoid issues like tissue injury or the formation of an embolus or clot and this is also why Sublocade should not be injected intravenously. To receive the desired results from using Sublocade, its dose should be overseen by a qualified medical care professional as part of a managed recovery program. This medicine is not available over the counter and must be administered in a healthcare setting only. Trying this medication without expert care can have disastrous results.

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Sublocade vs Suboxone: Small (But Important!) Differences that You Should Know

Prefilled syringes are the most common form in which Sublocade is available. Injected just under the skin, Sublocade shots are not associated with immediate pain or an allergic reaction. However, some reactions to Buprenorphine can happen, and extreme side effects are rare. The generic version of the medicine is also available in tablet form. Different from Sublocade, the tablet form of the medicine – Suboxone, is taken orally. The primary difference here is that Buprenorphine in the liquid form as a part of the Sublocade injection is released gradually through the day. 

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 3.8 percent of American adults abuse opioids each year. That’s over 10 million people!

What to Expect when Using Sublocade for the First Time?

To understand how and why Sublocade works, it’s important to know more about opioids. Opioids refer to a category of medications often used to treat severe pain. They work effectively by acting on the brain's receptors. Acting as potent pain relievers, opioids can make someone feel high as the relief sets in. This is also the main reason why people can get addicted to opioids.

Sublocade tends to suppress withdrawal symptoms when people try getting off opioids, but it does without creating a similar high. It works more by reducing the intensity and impact of withdrawal symptoms.

Often the medicine is injected in the stomach—a common site for Sublocade injections. This is done as a part of the carefully managed protocol to avoid any adverse reactions. Yes, some potential dangers are associated with using this medicine, which is underlined by the boxed warning that comes with Sublocade packaging. Such boxed warnings should be taken seriously as they are put up only when very serious drug reactions are expected, alerting doctors and patients. It might be a good idea to ask your doctor about these warnings in detail. If you have experienced problems with Sublocade shots before, let your physician know about the challenges like extreme allergic reactions.

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Are There Any Withdrawal Symptoms if Someone Stops Taking Sublocade?

Sublocade can create a certain degree of dependence in some people, but because it’s given and used in a controlled, clinical environment, the addiction risk potential is low.

As compared to the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids, Sublocade withdrawal can be similar to opioid withdrawal. Sublocade withdrawal can cause insomnia-like symptoms. Some users might experience anxiety when they stop their daily dose. Other mild symptoms might arise in the form of vomiting or nausea.

You should note that the Sublocade stays in the body for some time. Therefore, it is possible that the onset of Sublocade withdrawal does not happen right away, and the symptoms might take up to a few days or weeks to surface, from the day of stopping the Sublocade dose.

If someone is hit hard by Sublocade withdrawal symptoms, it is better to seek a doctor’s help rather than trying over-the-counter medications to manage the symptoms. Though temporary, Sublocade withdrawal symptoms might hamper the workplace productivity of some people and they are better served by discussing their challenges with a clinical expert.

Sublocade and Naloxone Are Very Different Drugs

Sublocade is not the same as Naloxone. No naloxone is included in the Sublocade formulation. This confusion persists since both medications are used in the domain of addiction control and rehab for those with substance abuse problems. The buprenorphine in Sublocade forms an inherent part of a strategy to control opioid use disorder, it works primarily on the withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with long-term opioid usage.

However, naloxone is intended towards treating people undergoing an opioid overdose.

The confusion also persists because there are formulations that combine buprenorphine and naloxone as a combination drug. Moreover, Sublocade is most likely to be prescribed as an injection. Another form of buprenorphine, Suboxone, is commonly available as an oral film that is placed in the mouth. Sublocade is preferred in its liquid, injectable form.

While both Sublocade and Suboxone might be part of a treatment plan for managing opioid addiction, your doctor should clarify the distinctions between the two medications and the reason to put you on Sublocade.

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Things to Avoid When Using Sublocade

While Sublocade might not cause a serious interaction with some medications, always talk to your doctor about any recent meds you have been on. At all times, combining Sublocade with narcotic drugs should be avoided as this can dangerously raise the chances of suffering from an opioid overdose. As a result of this, you might experience difficulty in breathing. Extreme interactions with narcotic drugs can make a person unconscious, while some people might develop dangerous heart rate fluctuations.

If your loved one is already on Sublocade and will soon undergo surgery, talk to the attending physician about the pain medications that don’t pose any risk. This is important because the prescribed painkillers might often contain some level of opioids. Keeping watch from the beginning means avoiding overdosing. If someone in the family needs any symptomatic medication that is easily available without a prescription, always ask whether the medicine can be consumed by someone taking Sublocade shots. Sublocade does not present a high risk when used with some NSAIDs like ibuprofen. 

How Long Does Sublocade Stay in Your System?

Sublocade tends to remain in your system for a few days since your last dose. It has a half-life of about 40 to 60 days. This is why the after-effects of stopping Sublocade take some time to get noticeable.

Sublocade Dosage Basics

Maintaining the correct Sublocade dosage is important to experience its intended effects without any contradictions. Your physical assessment, your status in terms of addiction treatment, and observations from your first use of Sublocade are just some of the reasons that will be evaluated for finalizing a safe and effective dosage. As the severity of withdrawal symptoms changes, the dose can be adjusted accordingly. Sometimes, Sublocade is started after a small period of administering oral buprenorphine. Sublocade injections are usually given as part of a monthly schedule. You should not change the dosage schedule if you miss the scheduled Sublocade shot. If you feel that the unpleasant symptoms of opioid withdrawal are building up due to missing a Sublocade dose, talk to your doctor. Sublocade can be taken for a longer duration, depending on the severity of the opioid use disorder. It is not likely to get habit-forming as long as the recommended dose is maintained. You might want to share your Sublocade dosing reminders with someone in the family to ensure you never miss a shot. You can take Sublocade injection with or without food.

What Are the Most Common Sublocade Side Effects?

Constipation, nausea, headache, and drowsiness are among the most common Sublocade side effects. Usually, these problems subside on their own without taking any additional medication. The site of injection might get painful along with developing some itching. There have been some instances of the medicine affecting the liver. An abnormal liver function test report indicates an adverse reaction to Sublocade.

At all times, abstain from self-administering Sublocade. Mild side effects of Sublocade might go away in a couple of days, and unless they really bother you, a doctor’s appointment might not be necessary.

Serious side effects of Sublocade:

  • Respiratory problems like shallow breathing

  • Impact on the Central nervous system causing coma

  • Fatigue that does not go away

  • Extreme allergic reactions

  • Stress on the liver

Allergic reactions to Sublocade include:

  • Swollen eyelids and lips

  • Rashes on hands and feet

  • Swelling in the tongue and around the mouth

Get the Facts on Sublocade & MAT with The Edge Treatment Center

The use of Sublocade in your addiction treatment plan can come with many questions. It would be a great idea to visit the medical care expert along with a family member or a companion when talking about using this medication.

Our team of recovery experts at The Edge Treatment Center is familiar with the numerous complexities associated with drug and alcohol-related addictions. The trained staff at our drug rehab offers the assistance needed to combat and overcome long-term substance misuse. We proudly make use of Sublocade and offer a MAT program.

The compassionate approach has helped people break free from a lifetime of addiction issues. Expect customized treatment plans for people with different addiction challenges and for those at different stages of their addiction recovery journey.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Opioid Addiction

November 23, 2022