Sublocade and Suboxone are both FDA-approved medications for the management of opioid dependence. Before considering either of these medications, you should consult with your healthcare provider or a qualified online Suboxone doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your needs. Sublocade and Suboxone treatment alleviate discomfort from withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing you to stay focused on your recovery goals. This guide to Sublocade vs. Suboxone is for informational purposes, and you should always reach out to your physician with any questions about proper treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD). 

To find out if Sublocade or Suboxone care may be right for you, contact the clinicians at Confidant Health’s online Suboxone clinic. The team at our virtual telemedicine clinic can guide you through Suboxone care or refer you to the appropriate providers to inquire about Sublocade treatment. Get started today by downloading our app and booking an appointment with our team. A happier, healthier life is only a click away. 

What Is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a newer medication approved by the FDA in 2017 to treat opioid dependence. It consists solely of buprenorphine, an opioid partial agonist. What makes Sublocade unique from other forms of buprenorphine treatment is that it is provided as a once-monthly injection rather than a tablet or film that requires daily use to keep symptoms under control. 

What Is Sublocade Used For? 

Sublocade is used to minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings in people with opioid use disorder. As part of a complete treatment plan consisting of therapy and support, Sublocade can help people keep their symptoms under control. 

Sublocade vs. Suboxone

Uses

Both medications are used to minimize withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Suboxone also contains naloxone, which is an opioid antagonist that blocks the activation of opioid receptors and helps prevent misuse.

Ingredients

Sublocade contains only buprenorphine, while Suboxone consists of buprenorphine and naloxone.

Side Effects

The side effects of your prescribed Sublocade or Suboxone regimen may vary, with some people experiencing minimal discomfort and others seeing more severe adverse effects. If you experience Sublocade or Suboxone side effects, contact your provider immediately for guidance or seek emergency medical care. Some side effects to be aware of include:

  • Blurred vision

  • Constipation

  • Dizziness

  • Fever

  • Muscle aches

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Insomnia

  • Sweating

Since Sublocade is injected into the skin, there are additional side effects that may appear at the injection site, such as:

  • Irritation

  • Itchiness

  • Pain

  • Redness

  • Skin hardening

  • Swelling

Some people also find that Sublocade treatment makes them feel very drowsy or slows down their reaction time. These side effects may be temporary, and you could see them dissipate within a few days or weeks of starting your Sublocade prescription. If these side effects are particularly bothersome, worsen, or do not go away after several weeks, reach out to your provider for guidance. 

In some cases, Suboxone and Sublocade can lead to serious side effects. Be alert for the following adverse effects:

  • Low blood pressure

  • Jaundice

  • Stomach pain

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dark-colored urine

  • Pale-colored stool

If you notice any of the above side effects after beginning a Suboxone or Sublocade regimen, contact your provider immediately or seek emergency medical treatment. 

Dosage and Forms

Sublocade

Sublocade is delivered as an injection that can only be administered by a licensed medical professional. You will receive an injection in your provider’s office once a month to keep opioid withdrawal symptoms under control. Sublocade is injected into the abdominal wall, and the medication is slowly released over thirty days. The effects of the medication should last the entire month, making it the most convenient form of opioid medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Sublocade is available in two dosages of buprenorphine:

  • 100 mg injection

  • 300 mg injection

A Sublocade regimen begins after your provider has ensured you have been stabilized with a minimum of seven days of Suboxone treatment. At this point, you will start with a monthly injection containing 300 mg of Sublocade. Your provider will evaluate your condition after two months and determine whether to decrease your dosage to 100 mg or keep you on the 300 mg injection. If you experience any discomfort after beginning Sublocade treatment, speak with your provider to determine the best course of action.

Suboxone

Suboxone is supplied as a sublingual tablet or film that your provider prescribes. You will either fill the prescription at a licensed pharmacy and follow your provider’s instructions at home or receive your Suboxone treatment in your provider’s office. Suboxone tablets and films are dissolved under the tongue and are typically prescribed as a single daily dose, although your provider may have you take more than one dose during induction as needed. 

Suboxone is available in four dosages, all in a 4:1 ratio of buprenorphine to naloxone:

  • 2 mg/0.5 mg films or tablets

  • 4 mg/1 mg films

  • 8 mg/2 mg films or tablets

  • 12 mg/3 mg films

A Suboxone regimen usually begins with an induction phase in which your provider starts you on the lowest dose of Suboxone. They may choose to prescribe films or pills for your treatment. An hour or two after your first dose, they will evaluate your condition and may instruct you to take a second 2 mg/0.5 mg dose. During the first day of induction, the typical Suboxone dosage is up to 8 mg/2 mg. By the second day, that dose may go up to 16 mg/4 mg.

Once your provider determines that your condition has stabilized, which is usually by the third day, they will move you into the maintenance phase of treatment. A maintenance dosage typically ranges between 4 mg/1 mg to 24 mg/6 mg daily, with a target dosage of 16 mg/4 mg. Your provider will still monitor you to ensure you receive the optimal dosage of Suboxone to manage your symptoms. If you encounter any discomfort after beginning Suboxone treatment, consult with your provider for advice. 

Suboxone vs. Sublocade FAQs 

Is Sublocade similar or the same as Suboxone?

Sublocade has the same benefits of reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings as Suboxone. However, Sublocade does not contain naloxone, so it doesn’t offer the same prevention against misuse. Since the Sublocade injection can only be administered by a certified healthcare provider, there is no need for the addition of naloxone to this medication.  

Is Sublocade better than Suboxone?

Some people consider Sublocade to be better than Suboxone because it is the most convenient form of medication for managing OUD. It only requires one monthly injection, which can cut down on trips to your provider or pharmacy. But, your provider will need to put you through a minimum seven-day course of Suboxone care before considering switching you to Sublocade. 

Does Sublocade cost more than Suboxone?

Sublocade may be more desirable for OUD treatment since it is more convenient. However, it is also more expensive than Suboxone, which can make it inaccessible to some. The cost of Sublocade or Suboxone treatment will depend largely on your health insurance coverage and the pharmacy you use.

Switching from Suboxone to Sublocade

If you are interested in the convenience of Sublocade care for OUD, consult with your provider so they can determine if switching from Suboxone to Sublocade is the right move for you. If your provider feels that Sublocade is the right choice for your treatment, you will need to go through an induction phase to ensure withdrawal symptoms are under control. This involves a minimum of seven days of OUD treatment with Suboxone or another sublingual buprenorphine medication. Once you are stabilized, your provider may then start you on a once-monthly injection of Sublocade.

Is Suboxone or Sublocade Right for You? Consult Confidant Health’s Online Suboxone Clinic

If you think Suboxone or Sublocade may help you manage opioid use disorder, reach out to the clinicians at Confidant Health’s online Suboxone clinic. Our team can provide you with a convenient virtual assessment to determine the best care plan for your needs.