Sublocade vs. Suboxone | What’s The Difference?

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While Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) has been a significant health crisis to contend with, two primary treatment options have become readily available.

Sublocade and Suboxone each have their unique pros and cons, and these two medications have been revolutionary in their ability to treat OUD.

Whether you are on the road to recovery or researching their potential effects, this guide is the perfect place to start.         Specifically, this article will cover:

  • What Sublocade and Suboxone are
  • Administration and dosage of each
  • Advantages and outcomes of each
  • Disadvantages and side effects to be aware of
  • Cost and accessibility.

Let’s get into it!

What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a monthly treatment used primarily for Opioid Use Disorder.

Sublocade contains buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that activates the same receptors in the brain as opiates. It is used to treat individuals with moderate to severe opioid use disorder.

What is Suboxone?

On the other hand, Suboxone approaches OUD differently.

In addition to buprenorphine, Suboxone uses naloxone – an opioid antagonist that blocks the effect of opiates.

Suboxone combines both an opioid agonist and an opioid antagonist to provide relief from cravings and minimize the chance of misuse.

Like Sublocade, Suboxone is also used to treat individuals with moderate to severe opioid use.

As such, the choice between Sublocade or Suboxone is entirely dependent on personal preference or that of your healthcare provider.

Sublocade vs. Suboxone: A Comprehensive Look At Their Differences

Sublocade Suboxone
Administration Monthly injection by a healthcare provider Daily oral tablet or sublingual film
Dosage Initial 2x 300 mg monthly doses, then 100 mg monthly Divided doses, up to 16 mg/4 mg daily
Advantages Monthly administration reduces compliance burden, controlled release minimizes fluctuations, less potential for abuse Accessibility, adjustable dosage, naloxone deters misuse
Disadvantages Requires healthcare professional, potential apprehension toward injections Daily compliance needed, potential for abuse or overdose
Cost and Accessibility Generally more expensive, availability of trained administrators may vary Potential for cost savings with generic version, wider availability, certification for prescribing doctors may be required
Side Effects Mild and serious side effects including constipation, dizziness, allergic reactions, and liver problems Mild and serious side effects including various physical and psychological symptoms

Administration and Dosage

Although used to treat the same condition, sublocade and suboxone are administered differently.

Sublocade

Sublocade is administered via injection once a month by a trained healthcare provider.

This subcutaneous injection is applied underneath the skin in the abdominal area and delivers consistent levels of buprenorphine.

This ensures that the buprenorphine is delivered to the patient’s bloodstream and Sublocade’s effect lasts throughout the entire month.

The recommended dose is two 300 mg monthly doses and then a reduced 100 mg monthly dose thereafter.

Suboxone

Taken orally, a dose of suboxone is usually in the form of a tablet or placed under the tongue as a sublingual film.

Suboxone is administered daily and requires consistent patient compliance.

To prevent withdrawal, oral buprenorphine should first be taken in divided doses of up to 8 mg/2 mg, and then up to 16 mg/4 mg thereafter.

Advantages and Outcomes of Each Treatment

Sublocade and Suboxone both have a variety of advantages, and it is important to consider these and their associated outcomes before committing to a treatment:

Sublocade

Sublocade’s primary advantage is that it is administered once per month. This reduced intake frequency means healthcare providers are more likely to maintain patient compliance as they do not have to remember to dose daily.

Furthermore, the monthly dose allows for a controlled release of buprenorphine – minimizing fluctuations in blood levels and contributing to a more predictable treatment experience. The infrequent dosage also minimizes the potential for abuse.

Suboxone

Due to its simple administration, Suboxone is much more accessible. Therefore, it is a better option for individuals who cannot easily reach a healthcare professional once per month or prefer treatment without injection.

The dosage can also be easily adjusted and doctors can tailor the amount to a patient’s specific needs.

Additionally, naloxone can induce withdrawal symptoms if wrongfully injected. This helps to prevent OUD patients from misusing medication.

Disadvantages or Concerns

As with any treatment, it is important to recognize and consider the potential disadvantages. Concerns of Sublocade and Suboxone include:

Sublocade

The primary disadvantage of Sublocade is that it requires a medical professional for administration.

This can create a barrier for patients who prefer self-treatment or do not have the ability to visit a healthcare professional once per month.

Additionally, due to the nature of the opioid crisis, some patients may be apprehensive about receiving injections.

Suboxone

As Suboxone is administered daily, patient compliance is required. This may be difficult to maintain due to general competence or one’s motivation to seek regular treatment.

Additionally, as this method is both prescribed and self-reliant, there is the potential for abuse or overdose.

Cost and Accessibility

Cost and accessibility are other important factors to keep in mind when choosing between Sublocade and Suboxone.

Sublocade

Generally speaking, Sublocade is more expensive, but costs may be offset due to appointments being monthly.

The cost of Sublocade is also heavily dependent on the availability and access to trained administrators.

Suboxone

Although both are brand-name medications, Suboxone does have a generic version which could potentially reduce its cost.

Suboxone is also widely available, but there could be barriers in the form of necessary certification for prescribing doctors.

Side Effects

Separate from withdrawal symptoms, both Sublocade and Suboxone can have a variety of mild and potentially severe symptoms or adverse reactions:

Sublocade

Mild side effects may be experienced by some patients. These can include:

  • Constipation
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Itching or redness at the injection point
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.

Serious side effects might include an allergic reaction or liver problems such as hepatitis.

Suboxone

On the other hand, Suboxone has many more potential side effects:

  • Mild effects include back and stomach pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Burning pain in the tongue or mouth
  • Constipation
  • Excessive sweating
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Numbness or redness in mouth
  • Short attention span
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.

Suboxone’s serious side effects are the exact same as Sublocade.

Conclusion

In summary, both Sublocade and Suboxone are great options for treating Opioid Use Disorder.

The ultimate choice is up to the individual or the prescribing healthcare professional.

It is important that every aspect from cost to compliance is considered, and that Suboxone is only used under medical supervision.

Remember to consult with your healthcare professional to determine the best path to recovery for you.

References:

Source A: Prescribing Information SUBLOCADE

https://www.sublocade.com/Content/pdf/prescribing-information.pdf

Source B: Prescribing Information SUBOXONE

https://www.suboxone.com/pdfs/prescribing-information.pdf

Source C: What Are the Benefits of Sublocade for Opioid Addiction Treatment?

https://www.northshorefp.com/blog/what-are-the-benefits-of-sublocade-for-opioid-addiction-treatment

Source D: 4 Important Advantages of Suboxone Treatment For Opioid Addiction

https://peacemedicalfla.com/4-important-advantages-suboxone-treatment-opioid-addiction/

Source E: Abuse liability of intravenous buprenorphine/naloxone and buprenorphine

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489277/

Source F: Comparing Sublocade vs Suboxone

https://www.drugs.com/compare/sublocade-vs-suboxone

Source G: Sublocade vs. Suboxone: What You Should Know

https://www.healthline.com/health/drugs/sublocade-vs-suboxone#costs

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