What is Sublocade (BUP-XR)?

Sublocade for opioid treatmentSublocade is the brand name for an extended release formulation of the drug buprenorphine, also known as BUP-XR. Sublocade is used by medical professionals to treat people who are addicted to opiates and other painkiller drugs like OxyContin, heroin and Vicodin. It’s often used in clinical settings as part of a more comprehensive Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) plan. Sometimes the drug is also used in settings such as jails and mental health treatment programs for people who have been diagnosed with an opioid use disorder.

How is Sublocade Used in Addiction Treatment?

Sublocade is an opioid ‘partial agonist.’ This means that it binds to receptors in the brain that prevent other opiate drugs from binding to.  The result is less temptation to relapse on opiates like heroin or fentanyl, and a lesser pleasurable effect if a relapse occurs.

How is Sublocade Administered?

Sublocade is administered by a monthly injection. It then has a gradual release into the bloodstream and crosses the blood/brain barrier to bind to the receptors.  Only specific doctors who are trained in the dispensation of buprenorphine products for the recovery from opiate use disorder (OUD) can dispense the shot.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment? 

The FDA has approved several different medications to treat opioid addiction. Medications for treatment help relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Sometimes withdrawal symptoms can persist for months or even years. Cravings are something that addicted people have to deal with throughout their recovery.

MAT programs use a combination of other therapies such as talk therapy and behavioral therapy to help people reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opioids, such as Vicoden or Oxycontin.

Some people wrongly think that MAT substitutes one drug for another. This is not the case. First, the medications that are prescribed for these purposes don’t get a person “high”. They’re available to simply relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings. You see, long-term drug use can cause chemical imbalances in the body.

MAT programs can provide a safe environment for a person to nurture their body and safely quit the use of drugs. Treatment will involve a controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an opioid.

Drugs like Sublocade help to dramatically reduce cravings and lessen the side effects of withdrawal for people who are addicted. Addiction makes it nearly impossible for a person to stop using on his or her own. Withdrawal causes painful and upsetting side effects that can cause a person who is trying to quit using drugs to relapse. Often, when a person wants to go to treatment, they are put on a waiting list. Medication-assisted treatment can help fill the gap.

What’s in Sublocade?

Sublocade is a drug made of Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is the go-to drug when it comes to addictions to opioids and opiates, including addiction to street drugs like heroin. Doctors around the world use it to help people cease or reduce their use of opioids and drugs like heroin.

Buprenorphine is an “essential medicine” according to the World Health Organization.

The difference between Sublocade and other drugs that contain Buprenorphine is the dosage and dispensing method.

Buprenorphine and methadone are “essential medicines” according to the World Health Organization

What is an Opioid Use Disorder?

Opioid use disorder is defined as a problematic pattern of opioid use that leads to serious impairment or distress. This may mean that a person’s dependence on the drug has transformed into an addiction. Problematic use means that it is affecting a person’s life in an adverse way; there are consequences. Examples of consequences could be overdose, financial troubles, arrests or other negative events. A person who has an opioid use order will pretty much use no matter what when they are in active addiction. They will manipulate others, do desperate things for money, and sometimes put their drug use above everything else.

Addiction to drugs can be an isolating problem that has a serious impact on a person’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. Treatment, and medication-assisted treatment, can help a person begin to recovery and live a new life without the use of drugs or alcohol.

What Kinds of Drugs Can Sublocade Help With?

Sublocade can help people who are addicted to opioids (synthetic, man-made drugs) and opiates (drugs derived from the opium poppy).

Some of the drugs Sublocade can help with are:

  • Heroin
  • OxyContin
  • Morphine
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • Fentanyl (including Carfentanil)

Opioids and opiates are considered to be the most addictive drugs sold on the black market. Many people who abuse opioids started out by taking them as legitimate prescription medications.

When somebody is on an opioid drug for weeks or months, it may take more of the drug to get the same effects. When a person is in the process of becoming addicted, they’re usually chasing a high or the euphoria caused by the drug. So they may take more of the drug to feel the way they felt last week. The next thing they know, they have a tolerance and needs more and more of the same drug to get the same effects.

How Can I Get a Prescription for Sublocade?

Most doctors won’t simply prescribe Sublocade because they’re not experts in addiction. You’ll need to also get treatment help in addition to the medication. (Remember, it’s called “Medication Assisted Treatment).

Enrolling in a detox program or long-term treatment program will help you get off of opioids and opiates safely. When you do your research, make sure to ask about medication options at each treatment center.

What Other Drugs Are Available for Opioid Use Disorder?

Buprenorphine is also available in pill form or as a sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue. You can also get a small implant that goes under your skin and dispenses twenty-four hours a day.

Methadone is a drug that’s been used for a long time in treatment centers. It’s usually dispensed in liquid, oral solutions, tablets, and injectable forms. It’s also sometimes used by hospitals for pain relief.

Methadone tricks the brain into thinking you’re still getting high. When a person takes it, they don’t experience any opioid withdrawal.

Naltrexone is another drug used in medication-assisted treatment. The pill form can be taken once a day and there is an injectable extended-release form of the drug (Vivitrol) that can been given a month.  If a person using naltrexone relapses, naltrexone blocks the “high”, i.e. the euphoric and sedative effects of the abused drug. Naltrexone is often used by programs such as jail-based addiction treatment and is primarily prescribed in cases of heroin addiction.

Naltrexone is unique among MAT. All patients must abstain from opioids for a minimum of 7-10 days before they start it, otherwise they actually WILL experience intense withdrawal symptoms. This is true even if a patient is switching from another MAT.