In Los Angeles
The American Society of Anesthesiologists reports that more than 2 million Americans misuse opioids.
Perhaps you’re struggling with addiction to prescription painkillers. Or maybe you know and love someone who is. In either case, you know how difficult it is to fight opioid addiction.
Fortunately, treatment, including Sublocade injections, can help.
What is Sublocade? How does it work? Is it safe? Read on to find all the Sublocade facts you need to support your recovery.
Sublocade is the brand name for the drug buprenorphine. Currently, there is no generic alternative for pure, injectable buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine is an opioid. Unlike other opioids, though, buprenorphine isn’t used as a pain reliever. Also unlike other opioids, buprenorphine only partially stimulates the opioid receptors. Thus, people taking buprenorphine won’t experience the “high” associated with other opioids.
Sublocade helps opioid users manage their withdrawal symptoms. It is considered a partial opioid agonist. This means that it works by attaching to the brain’s opioid receptors so that other opioids cannot.
As a result, people taking Sublocade won’t experience opioids’ euphoric effects. They also will experience fewer and less intense cravings.
Sublocade treatment is administered as a monthly injection.
Sublocade is a Schedule III controlled substance. Therefore, you must see a certified provider to obtain a Sublocade injection. These providers include only doctors and clinics, like LA Suboxone, that have special training and certification from the government.
You can also only begin treatment with Sublocade injections after first using an oral dose of buprenorphine.
Suboxone is an oral form of buprenorphine. It offers buprenorphine in a dissolvable sheet that you’ll place under your tongue or in your cheek. You’ll need to maintain daily oral treatments with Suboxone for at least a week before switching to monthly Sublocade injections.
Suboxone sheets also contain Naloxone, which is used to treat opioid overdoses. In contrast, Sublocade only includes buprenorphine.
It is considered a maintenance treatment for opioid addiction.
Sublocade injections are administered monthly. In fact, it’s important to leave at least 26 days between doses.
Your provider will administer each injection in the skin of your abdomen. A liquid when it’s injected, the medication becomes a gel, called a depot, once inside the body. The depot is what enables monthly Sublocade injections. Throughout the month, it will release buprenorphine in a controlled and gradual way.
Accurate placement of the Sublocade depot is essential not only to the drug’s effectiveness but also to your safety. Injection into the veins or muscles can cause a dangerous and potentially fatal pulmonary embolism. A qualified provider will avoid this risk, carefully injecting the drug beneath the skin.
After your injection, you’ll be able to see and feel the depot under your skin. Over time, you’ll notice it shrink as it releases the medication.
Your doctor will advise you on how to care for the injection site. This means protecting the depot from contact. You should avoid massaging the depot with your hands. You should also take care when you choose your clothes. Tight waistbands or belts can put pressure on the depot and affect your treatment.
Studies show that Sublocade is effective at controlling opioid use.
During one 24-week clinical trial, participants were randomly assigned to a control or treatment group. The control group received placebo injections and counseling. Meanwhile, the treatment group received Sublocade injections and counseling.
Only 2% of the control group abstained from other opioids for the course of the study. In contrast, 30% of patients using Sublocade and counseling refrained from using other opioids.
When administered by a qualified provider, Sublocade is generally safe. The most common side effects are usually mild and can include:
More serious side effects are rare. However, it’s important to include all relevant information when weighing Sublocade benefits and risks.
Besides pulmonary embolism, Sublocade has, in rare cases, been associated with:
Taking Sublocade safely means, first, working with a certified clinic. A qualified provider, like the doctors at LA Suboxone, will help you transition from oral Suboxone treatments to monthly Sublocade injections. They’ll also take care to leave adequate time between injections and place the injections properly.
Still, there are steps you can and must take to protect yourself and enhance your treatment’s effectiveness.
Besides caring for your injection site, taking Sublocade safely means sharing your full medical history, including Sublocade treatment, with all of your medical providers. This is important because other drugs can interact with Sublocade.
When taking Sublocade, you cannot take the following medications:
Some interactions between these drugs and Sublocade, including serotonin syndrome, can be fatal.
Serotonin syndrome occurs when serotonin accumulates in your body. Symptoms include:
Seek emergency medical help if you notice any of these symptoms.
Another substance that you absolutely must avoid while taking Sublocade is alcohol. The results of mixing alcohol and Sublocade can be deadly.
Finally, the best way to improve the effectiveness of Sublocade treatment is to incorporate it into a comprehensive treatment program. This must include individual counseling and support group therapy.
If you’re struggling with addiction, you know fear, and you know despair. Because you’re learning about treatments, though, you also know hope.
The answer to the question, “Why Sublocade?” is simple: Hope. Hope and the promise of recovery.
At LA Suboxone, we offer treatment for opioid addiction. More importantly, however, we offer hope. Our hope is in treatments combining medication and counseling best practices. Our hope is in qualified and caring providers. And our hope is in you.
We hope you’ll put your trust in us. Contact us to learn more about the journey of recovery we can travel together.