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What is Sublocade? And How Does It Work?

sublocade  doctor using laptop and electronic medical record system

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Sublocade, the first once-monthly injectable buprenorphine product for the treatment of moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder.

Sublocade is an extended-release once-a-month injection of Buprenorphine. Similar to Suboxone, Buprenorphine is an opiate that activates receptors in a controlled fashion. That means there will be no euphoria that can cause opiate cravings.

How Does Sublocade Work?

  • When you take an opioid such as heroin or morphine, the drug binds fully to a receptor (mu-receptor) which gives the pleasure or high that you get when taking that drug.
  • When you take Sublocade it binds to the same opioid receptor more easily than other drugs, but even though the Subocade binds to the receptor really well, it doesn’t work properly to switch it on, so you don’t get the high or pleasurable sensation.
  • Instead of giving you a high, the effect of Sublocade is that it prevents your cravings.
  • Sublocade works to help stop the cravings, without the high, by binding to the opioid receptors.
chart of the mean level of buprenorphine after an injection of sublocade

What Are The Advantages of Sublocade?

  • It breaks the hand-to-mouth repetition that came with prior opioid abuse and helps to reinforce positive habits.
  • not having to worry about carrying around medicine and remembering to take it.
  • It’s only once a month.
  • Prevents the loss of medicine either through theft or misplacement.
  • Access to a much more convenient and flexible addiction management schedule
group of hikers walking on a mountain after getting a subolcade injection

How and where is the Sublocade injection given?

Sublocade should only be administered into the stomach area (abdomen), except for a 2-inch circle around your navel (belly button), as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection. It must be given by a certified healthcare provider who has met certain qualifying requirements, including only prescribing Sublocade for the treatment of opioid dependence. Sublocade is administered monthly with a minimum of 26 days between doses.

Sublocade must not be administered intravenously, intramuscularly, or intradermally and each injection should be administered only using the syringe and safety needle included with the product.

Smiling asian after an injection of buprenorphine woman with long dark hair in sunglasses talking by a smartphone

Why do you need to take oral forms of buprenorphine before you start Sublocade?

Sublocade (buprenorphine) is an extended-release, once-monthly injection that steadily releases buprenorphine into your bloodstream.

  • You can only start on Sublocade when you are fully detoxified, if you are not detoxified Sublocade will cause precipitated withdrawal, which can be severe and potentially serious.
  • To prevent precipitated withdrawal Sublocade can only be started on people who have been stable for at least a week, on the daily form of buprenorphine that you take under your tongue or inside your cheek.
  • Once stabilized on daily buprenorphine for at least a week, then you can start the Sublocade extended-release injection which is given monthly, so will keep the cravings under long-term control.



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