Opioids are one of the most addictive drugs abused today, causing a huge increase in overdose deaths over the last two decades. Opioids include the illegal drug heroin, and prescription medications like hydrocodone, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and many others. Many people’s problem with opioids begins with a prescription for pain relief, which quickly spirals into dependency and addiction.

The most difficult thing about opioid abuse is how difficult it often is for people to stop using. Opioid withdrawal involves many different very unpleasant side effects that often lead people to keep using in order to avoid. Even after detoxing, many people end up relapsing back into opioid abuse because the cravings are just too strong to ignore. Luckily, today we have options to help people manage both withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is considered the most effective treatment for opioid addiction.

What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a brand name for a form of buprenorphine, which has been used in opioid medication-assisted treatment for a number of years. Unlike other MAT medications like methadone, buprenorphine is a partial opioid antagonist, which means that it has a much lower risk of dependence because it cannot get a user high. What sets Sublocade apart is how it is dosed. While other opioid MAT medications require daily or every-other-day visits in order to get your dosage, Sublocade only requires a once per month visit. This is because Sublocade is injected under the skin, and its extended-release formula stays in your system for 26 days.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment is a program designed to help people addicted to opioids manage their withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. MAT uses both behavioral therapy and medications to help treat opioid addiction in a holistic way. Treatment addresses the mental and emotional effects of addiction, as well as how it affects your overall physical health. The cornerstone of all MAT programs is the use of FDA-approved medications to treat withdrawal and cravings. The most well-known of these medications are methadone, suboxone, and subutex. More recently, however, newer options have come onto the market for opioid MAT programs. One of these medications is Sublocade, and it has many distinct advantages over older MAT medication options.

As with all forms of MAT, success in recovery is best achieved when combined with psychotherapy and psychosocial support. We incorporate this into every visit and typically a patient will continue therapy between Sublocade visits.

How Does Sublocade Work?

Before you can begin taking Sublocade injections, you must first go through a process called induction treatment. This involves taking a sublingual, or under the tongue, form of buprenorphine, to treat the beginning stages of withdrawal. These daily dosages help you build up buprenorphine in your system, significantly reducing your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. After about 30-60 days, you can receive a Sublocade injection at Wave Treatment Centers as a part of your long-term opioid Medication-Assisted Treatment program plan. The extended-release aspect of Sublocade means that you can maintain your sobriety for the long-term without having to make time for frequent doctor or clinic visits.

Does Sublocade Have Any Side Effects?

Just like any other prescription medication, Sublocade injections do have some risk of side effects. The most commonly reported ones are pain, redness, or itching around the injection site. These symptoms are usually very minor, and clear up within a few days. Some of the other potential common side effects are:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Sublocade is Just One Component of Opioid Addiction Treatment

One of the most common misconceptions about the medications used in MAT treatment is that they can “cure” your addiction, or that they can be used as a standalone treatment. Unfortunately, neither of these claims is true. Addiction is a chronic often relapsing disease that requires commitment and dedication to manage – even after years of being sober, one wrong move can send you right back into your addiction. That is why MAT also focuses on behavioral therapy, overall wellness, and aftercare services. With this combination of addiction recovery services, you are far more likely to not only achieve sobriety, but also maintain it for the long-term.

Is Sublocade Right for You?

With the implementation of either Vivitrol or Sublocade, most of our patients are able to return to productive lives with minimal disruption of their goals from substances. That is because we take the time to identify what treatment option will work best for you and we partner with you to keep on top of your recovery and make changes when and if something is not working towards your goals.

We are here to help you answer any questions you may have about opioid addiction treatment options. Contact us today to learn more about the Sublocade services we offer in Philadelphia, as well as whether or not you may be a good candidate for Sublocade treatment.

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