Sublocade is an injectable opioid medication used to treat adult patients with moderate-to-severe opioid use disorder. FDA-approved since 2017, Sublocade, which comes as a liquid solution in a prefilled syringe, is for individuals who have already started an oral form of addiction treatment for a minimum of seven days. The buprenorphine injection, available only in an approved healthcare setting, provides a treatment option for patients who may value the benefits of a once-monthly injection compared to taking prescribed medication daily under the tongue and inside the cheek. Sublocade is available only as a brand-name medication and not as a generic. The drug is not safe for children and is not intended for use as a pain medication.
How Does Sublocade Work?
Sublocade should be used as part of a complete treatment program that includes counseling and psychosocial support. Sublocade cannot be self-administered and is not available in retail pharmacies. A certified healthcare professional must give you an injection in your belly, just under your skin, once a month. The recommended initial dosage of Sublocade is 300 mg once a month for the first two months. The maintenance dosage thereafter is 100 mg once a month. However, based on the severity of your condition and how your body responds to the drug, your doctor may increase the monthly maintenance dosage to 300 mg. You will need to do blood tests to check your liver before you start treatment with Sublocade and regularly during treatment with the drug. You should not use Sublocade if you are allergic to buprenorphine.
Sublocade should never be injected into your vein or your muscle because it could damage the skin or underlying tissues and cause death. Sublocade is injected as a liquid, and, once injected inside your body, forms a small lump containing buprenorphine. The lump could last for several weeks; but, throughout the month, the lump will shrink. Avoid wearing tight clothing over the affected area or rubbing or scratching the lump. You must wait at least 26 days between each injection of Sublocade and, during that time, you should not use alcohol or other types of prescription or over-the-counter medicines that have alcohol in them because it can cause serious side effects including slowed breathing, which can be fatal, physical dependence on the drug, severe allergic reaction, liver problems such as hepatitis and adrenal gland damage.
Side Effects Of Sublocade
While under treatment, you should not drive or operate heavy machinery because buprenorphine can make you drowsy and cause slow reaction times. You should not stop receiving Sublocade abruptly because you could experience unpleasant opioid withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, sweating profusely, runny nose, watery eyes, diarrhea, hot and cold flashes, vomiting, etc. Receiving Sublocade while pregnant can cause your baby to have opioid withdrawal symptoms at birth, which could be life-threatening. Likewise, if a woman is breastfeeding while receiving Sublocade, she can pass the drug to her baby in her breast milk and cause harm to her baby.
Despite the side effects of the drug, research shows that Sublocade patients are 14 times more likely to achieve treatment success.
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