FDA Approves Sublocade: First Once-Monthly Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder

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Published: 12/1/2017 | Author:

The FDA recently approved the first once-monthly buprenorphine medication for use in treating opioid addiction. The medication, called Sublocade, works by eliminating cravings for heroin and painkillers, as well as withdrawal symptoms like nausea, muscle aches, and insomnia. Sublocade joins methadone, Suboxone, naltrexone, and other medications commonly used as part of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

What is Sublocade, and How Does it Treat Opioid Addiction?


Sublocade is a form of buprenorphine that only needs to be administered one per month.

Sublocade is a form of buprenorphine that is injected under the skin as an implant. Buprenorphine is a medication that binds with opioid receptors in the brain to eliminate heroin and painkiller withdrawal symptoms. This allows those overcoming opioid use disorder to recover more safely and comfortably, and face a lower risk for relapse, overdose, and death.

Sublocade is administered only once per month, and slowly releases its formula into the bloodstream over the course of that timeframe. Up until recently, the medication was only available as a dissolvable strip taken daily by those overcoming opioid use disorder. Sublocade is recommended for use in treating patients that have already been using the dissolvable form of buprenorphine for at least seven days.

The FDA’s latest press announcement states that Sublocade will now be available as a medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, to help reduce the severity of the U.S. opioid crisis. Heroin and painkillers caused more than 33,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2015, and 53,000 overdose deaths in 2016. MAT combines medications like Sublocade with therapy so patients can overcome opioid dependency along with psychological causes of opioid addiction.

Benefits of Using Sublocade for Opioid Addiction

Opioids are among the most highly addictive drugs in the world, and can quickly lead to dependence when used for longer than two weeks. Those who try recovering from opioid dependence without medications like Sublocade will suffer a range of mild to severe cravings and withdrawal symptoms as their brains and bodies try to rebalance without exposure to opioids. Unfortunately, these symptoms can influence individuals to relapse and suffer an overdose or death — especially when using high doses their bodies can no longer handle.

Sublocade eliminates opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms so patients can benefit from a higher recovery success rate. Sublocade is also more convenient than daily buprenorphine, since the medication is injected only once per month. Patients using Sublocade as part of opioid addiction treatment can stay focused on therapy, and continue to manage important life responsibilities related to career, education, family, and more.

Getting Help for Opioid Use Disorder

MAT is a widely accepted treatment for opioid use disorder, and is available at many drug detox centers that treat opioid addiction. If you or someone you love needs help recovering from opioid use disorder, call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-351-3840(Who Answers?) . Our experienced addiction counselors will discuss all your treatment options, and help you find the nearest detox center offering Sublocade and other safe, effective treatments for opioid use disorder.

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