There are over 2.1 million people now who have opiate addiction, an alarming statistic that is only going up. Around 8-12% of them started out with prescription painkillers, and that’s a conservative percentage. Once an opioid use disorder manifests, it becomes incredibly tough to beat as it takes over your body and your life.
The fight against opiate addiction has made some headway with an aid to recovery, which is Sublocade. It’s not a wonder drug that eliminates opiate addiction in a flash, but it does help you wean off of the painkillers. Let’s look into what makes Sublocade an effective opiate addiction recovery aid.
What is Sublocade?
Buprenorphine is the main component of Sublocade, which is a partial agonist for mu opioid receptors in your brain. Those receptors are responsible for what most people feel when they take opioids, including drug-liking, which is the subjective effect of feeling pleasure from the drug and wanting more of it.
As an agonist, Sublocade can block opioids from attaching to those mu opioid receptors, thus also blocking those pleasurable side effects that can result in rewiring your brain and furthering one’s addiction. That then allows the brain to operate as normally as it can.
Sublocade can also curtail the common symptoms of opioid withdrawal, which include nausea, vomiting, body aches, fever, diarrhea, depression, and anxiety. That then helps make the recovery process easier to deal with, thus making it more encouraging to kick the habit for good.
Taking Sublocade for Opioid Addiction Treatment
Sublocade is typically administered as an extended-release injection done once a month. Before proceeding with the injection, it’s advised to start with sublingual buprenorphine for seven days to ease your body into the process, then proceed with the monthly Sublocade injection.
These injections should only be taken upon the prescription of your treatment specialist. It’s really strong stuff and there’s a good reason why they’re only taken once a month. You may ask your treatment specialist about Sublocade and if it’s good for your opiate addiction treatment.
When approved, Sublocade can be administered for as long as the patient needs it. Along as one’s condition remains stable and there’s no threat of relapse, treatment with Sublocade can be continued to avoid chronic opioid addiction. For now, there’s no maximum duration for this treatment.
As such, the patient should be monitored periodically to make sure that they’re indeed staying away from opioids and not experiencing any severe side effects. If ever the patient decides to stop being given Sublocade every month, they must consult with their treatment specialist to make sure that it’s perfectly fine to stop and to learn about withdrawal symptoms and the length of time it will take to have their system be free of buprenorphine.
Side Effects and Risks of Sublocade
Despite being able to suppress the common side effects of opiate withdrawal, Sublocade itself does have its own side effects. You may experience constipation, vomiting, headache, nausea, fatigue, increase in liver enzymes, and pain and itching at the injection site.
Sublocade should not be administered to those who are either hypersensitive or allergic to buprenorphine. Also, it should not be used in combination with many other types of drugs that may have interaction with it.
Sublocade should only be injected subcutaneously, not intravenously or intramuscularly. It’s a liquid when it’s injected, but it becomes solid once it enters the body. Injecting it into the bloodstream will cause serious blood clots, and injecting it into the muscle may yield significant negative effects.
Buprenorphine in any form can have a risk of slowing breathing and neurological functions, which can be life-threatening. Therefore, administration of Sublocade should be discontinued if such symptoms were to occur.
How Effective is Sublocade?
Since it only has to be injected once a month, there is less worry in the patient missing a dose. This makes relapse less likely, so long as the patient gets their next injection within the intended dose date or up to two weeks past it.
Studies have shown Sublocade in its intractable form to be effective in treating opiate addiction, boosting the number of patients who become opioid-free after 2 to 6 months of treatment.
Legality and Regulation of Sublocade
Buprenorphine had been previously approved in its tablet or film form, intended to dissolve in the mouth or be used as an implant. Sublocade is a new treatment option for patients who can benefit from injections administered once a month.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Sublocade in its injectable form for treating moderate to severe opioid use disorder in adult patients who have started treatment with transmucosal buprenorphine.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has stated that they’ve been committed in expanding access to treatments that may help millions of American affected by the opioid crisis achieve sobriety. The FDA includes Sublocade as one of the new addiction treatment options that they’re expediting to promote more widespread use of FDA-approved therapies for addiction treatment.
As mentioned, Sublocade is not a full-on solution to one’s problems. But it can be used as maintenance therapy to help with the recovery process. When used right, it can be highly effective in treating opioid use disorders. It may also be used along with other treatments to increase their effectiveness.