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Sublocade Shot + Side Effects

Written By: Erika Dalton, LCSW
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD
Last Updated: September 13, 2023

Home » Services » Medication-Assisted Treatment Program in Atlanta » Sublocade

Buckhead Behavioral Health believes in staying on top of the newest approaches to treating opioid addiction. As part of this plan, we offer the Sublocade shot to help people overcome opioid use disorders and learn to live a sober life. Along with therapy provided in our alcohol and drug rehab in Atlanta, this life-saving monthly injection helps people experience fewer withdrawal symptoms. It contributes to an overall ability to live substance-free and focus on rebuilding a person’s life and good health.

How Does The Sublocade Shot Work?

When someone receives a Sublocade shot, it turns from a liquid form into a gel solid once under the skin. It releases buprenorphine slowly at sustained levels over the course of an entire month. The solid formed after the injection is administered breaks down completely during this time. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist and binds to a person’s opioid receptors. This process helps ease the symptoms that happen during opioid withdrawal and helps control a person’s cravings to use opioid drugs.

Sublocade was originally developed as an alternative to methadone, but doesn’t require daily doses that come with methadone use. Because it helps minimize a person’s desire to use opioids, it makes them more likely to stay sober and continue in their addiction treatment program.

Taking Sublocade injections should not be used as the sole way to overcome opioid addiction. Someone with an opioid use disorder should participate in all levels of treatment, beginning with a detox in Atlanta. From there, they can transfer to outpatient care or residential treatment. Sublocade shots coupled with addiction-related therapies provide people with the best ability to avoid relapse and stay off opioid drugs for good.

What is The Sublocade Shot Used For?

Sublocade is an FDA-approved medication used to treat opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder. It contains a medication called buprenorphine and is given as a monthly injection. It has been in use since 2017 and helps people overcome an addiction to opioids as part of an overall recovery treatment plan. Sublocade does not cause people to feel high. Instead, it activates the opioid receptors in the brain in a way that satisfies a person’s cravings for opioids. 

A Sublocade shot can not be done at home; it must be administered by a medical care provider. Many addiction treatment centers incorporate using Sublocade as part of their opioid treatment plan.

Opioid drugs include both prescription drugs and ones manufactured and obtained illegally. These include: 

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (common brand name: Vicodin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone (common brand names: OxyContin and Percocet)
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxymorphone (common brand name: Opana)

Nearly 75% of all drug overdose deaths in 2020 involved opioids, which points up how important it is that people who abuse this kind of drug get professional treatment from an addiction facility.

Sublocade Side Effects

Not everyone who uses Sublocade shots experiences side effects, but some people do. Any side effects should be discussed with the prescriber. Common side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Feeling tired
  • Injection site itching or pain
  • Dizziness
  • Increase in liver enzymes

If anyone experiences serious side effects while using Sublocade, they should seek immediate medical assistance. This includes cognitive difficulties, blurred vision, slurred speech, and breathing difficulties. It is recommended that someone beginning to take Sublocade avoid driving, operating heavy machinery, or performing other potentially dangerous activities until they establish how the medication affects them. People should also avoid drinking alcohol or consuming any prescription or over-the-counter medications that contain alcohol.

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Sublocade vs Vivitrol

Sublocade contains buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist. Vivitrol contains naltrexone which is an opioid antagonist. If a person uses opioids, Vivitrol will block the effects typically experienced, including feeling high. This removes the payoff of returning to using opioid products. Vivitrol does not stop withdrawal symptoms. Sublocade and Vivitrol cannot be used together. If they are combined, Vivitrol blocks the effects of Sublocade. In addition, the person may experience uncomfortable opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone vs Sublocade

Suboxone and Sublocade both contain buprenorphine, but Suboxone also contains something called naloxone. Sublocade is administered as a monthly injection and, due to its continuous release over time, the person is less prone to feeling levels of “up and down”, Suboxone is used daily in the form of a dissolving film placed under the tongue and makes it more likely for the person taking it to feel the varying levels of medication. Only needing to get a monthly Sublocade shot provides more convenience than having to take daily doses.

How Long Does Sublocade Stay in Your System?

Sublocade stays in your system for 28 to 30 days. It is recommended that a person receive a shot once a month, with at least 26 days between dosages required. How long a person should take Sublocade shots depends on factors unique to them. This includes the length and severity of the opioid addiction and how the person responds to taking Sublocade. The healthcare provider administering the shots will monitor the effectiveness and how the person progresses through recovery. From there, they can determine how long the individual should continue taking the shots.

More: How Long Does Sublocade Stay in Your System?

What is the Sublocade Success Rate?

A 24-week clinical study showed that people who used Sublocade were fourteen times more likely to achieve successful treatment for opioid addiction. Treatment success was defined as the individual remaining opioid-free for at least 80% of the weeks.

Another 12-month-long study showed that 88% of the 206 participants reported satisfaction with the medication.  Users reported improved scores for things such as quality of life and employment rates.

Get Treatment for Opioid Addiction in Atlanta, GA

Opioid addiction has impacted many families across the country and made it important that quality, effective treatment is available. For many, this includes using the Sublocade shot as part of an overall plan for overcoming addiction. Buckhead Behavioral Health provides outpatient care that helps people address their substance use disorder and learn to conquer it. Our staff of clinical experts uses modern treatment modalities to help minimize withdrawal symptoms and create the ability to live a drug-free life. 

If you would like more information about if the Sublocade shot is right for you, visit our admissions page now.

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