Sublocade Vs Vivitrol: Similarities & Differences Explained


If you are struggling with substance abuse (whether that be opioid dependency or worrisome alcohol use), you may be weighing up some of your options for treatment.

Both Sublocade and Vivitrol are popular options when it comes to the treatment of substance abuse, but what is the difference between the two?

In this article, we will compare both treatment options along with how they differ. Read on to learn more about:

  • What Sublocade is
  • What Vivitrol is
  • A comparison of the active ingredients
  • What Sublocade and Vivitrol are used to treat
  • How both medications are administered
  • What effects each medication has
  • The cost of Sublocade vs Vivitrol
  • The importance of other treatment.

Let’s get into it.

What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a medication used to help people with opioid use disorder during the recovery process.

It contains the active ingredient buprenorphine and is administered as an injection which delivers the medication over the period of a month.

The medication works as a partial opioid agonist. What this means is it binds to and activates certain opioid receptors in the brain. This helps to control opioid withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings during the recovery process.

Sublocade is designed to have a ceiling effect, which means that after a certain dose, it no longer activates the opioid receptors and does not cause the same euphoric effects as other opioid drugs do.

The medication is used as part of Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid use disorder and is usually prescribed together with behavioral therapies such as counseling and therapy sessions.

What is Vivitrol?

Vivitrol is another medication that is used to help people with opioid use disorder.

It contains the active ingredient Naloxone and is given as an intramuscular injection once a month. The medication is slowly released into the bloodstream over the course of a month.

The medication works as an opioid antagonist. This means that it blocks certain opioid receptors in the brain, and stops the effects of any opioid drugs.

It also helps to manage drug cravings and prevents relapses. Vivitrol can also be used to treat alcohol use disorder as well as opioid addiction.

Vivitrol is also used as part of Medication-Assisted Treatment and is usually prescribed together with psychological treatments such as therapy.

Comparing Sublocade vs. Vivitrol




Active Ingredient



Used to Treat

Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid Use Disorder, Alcohol Use Disorder


Monthly injection

Monthly injection


Partial opioid agonist, controls cravings

Opioid antagonist, blocks opioid effects

Common Side Effects

Injection site reactions

Injection site reactions


Reduces withdrawal, controls cravings

Blocks opioid/alcohol effects, prevents relapse


Variable, often covered by insurance

Variable, often covered by insurance

Behavioral Therapy



While Sublocade and Vivitrol are both medications used to treat opioid use disorder, there are a few key differences that set the two medications apart.

If you are considering medication-assisted treatment as part of your treatment plan, it is important to know what these are:

Sublocade: Buprenorphine

Sublocade contains buprenorphine as its active ingredient. Buprenorphine treatment is used to help people with addiction to prescription drugs and street drugs containing opioids, in order to manage their addiction.

Buprenorphine weakly activates the opioid receptors in the brain. This helps people to decrease their opioid use, control drug cravings, and regulate the reward system in the brain.

Sublocade is the injectable, long-acting form of buprenorphine that can be administered in medical clinics.

Vivitrol: Naltrexone

Vivitrol contains the active ingredient called Naltrexone, which is also available in pill versions.

However, Vivitrol is made into an injectable form, where naltrexone is released into the bloodstream over weeks.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain. This means that opioids will not have an effect if taken, helping people to maintain assistance from opioids.

It also works to diminish the rewarding feelings of using alcohol, supporting people’s sobriety through recovery.

Opioid use disorder (Sublocade) vs. alcohol dependence and opioid relapse prevention (Vivitrol)

Sublocade is used primarily in people with an active opioid addiction. It helps people who suffer from opioid use disorder to control cravings for opioids and minimizes withdrawal symptoms from other opioid drugs.

While Vivitrol is also used in the treatment of opioid use disorder, it is more commonly used to help avoid relapse in people who have successfully detoxified from opioids.

Due to how the medication is designed, it can only be used in people who have not had opioids in their system for at least a few days and therefore is not designed for the active phase of treatment.

Vivitrol can be prescribed by medical professionals for the treatment of alcohol use disorders such as chronic alcoholism.

The medication blocks the opioid receptors in the brain which are involved in the reward system associated with alcohol use.

Monthly injectable (both)

One of the biggest similarities between Sublocade and Vivitrol is the formulation.

They are both designed to be long-acting medications that are given as monthly injections in specialized clinics.

Because both medications are given as monthly injections, the adherence rate is higher compared to oral forms.

There is no need to remember to take a tablet every day. In both cases, the active ingredients slowly release into the body over the period of the month.

Sublocade is given as a subcutaneous injection, usually in the stomach area. Meanwhile, Vivitrol is given as an intramuscular injection usually in the buttocks.

Due to the injectable form, there is a similar risk of common side effects related to the injections including injection site reactions.

Sublocade reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings; Vivitrol blocks effects of opioids and alcohol

While both medications can help with the treatment of substance use disorder, they have slightly different actions.

Sublocade is a partial agonist (partial activator) of opioid receptors, meaning that it can be used to replace other opioid drugs.

This helps to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and is an effective treatment of opioid drug cravings. It can also be used to help treat severe pain.

On the other hand, Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors. This means that the rewarding effects of opioid and alcohol use do not register.

This helps people with both opioid addictions and alcoholism to make substance use less appealing. Ultimately, this helps to reduce cravings and the relapse rate.  


The cost of both medications varies quite a bit depending on a number of factors.

Both medications are often covered by healthcare insurance and other schemes such as Medicare.

There are also numerous payment plans available for medication-assisted treatment programs, especially for people who struggle to afford either medication.

Without any financial support, Vivitrol injections tend to be slightly cheaper than Sublocade. However, this can vary from state to state.  

Behavioral Therapies

Although Vivitrol and Sublocade are both effective medications to treat drug dependence during recovery, there is no direct cure for addiction with medication.

Most addiction specialists will recommend behavioral therapy as part of the treatment plan.

Psychological treatment can not only help to treat underlying mental disorders, but treatments such as family therapy and social therapy can also help to treat the underlying cause of addiction.

Therapy and other prams can also help control cravings, decrease relapses, and can teach people how to manage triggering environments and other personal circumstances that can negatively impact someone’s sobriety.


Both Sublocade and Vivitrol are medications that can be used to help people with opioid use disorder in their recovery.

While they are both long-acting injectable medications that require prescriptions, they differ in how they work and what they can be used for.

Sublocade is more commonly used in people who are active in opioid addiction.

It helps to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings in people who are trying to stop using other opioids.

On the other hand, Vivitrol is used in people who have undergone opioid detoxification and works to block the effects of other opioids while controlling some drug cravings. Vivitrol can also be used to treat alcoholism.

If you are considering which medication is best for you, it is important to discuss the risks and benefits with a healthcare professional.

They will be able to explain exactly how each can help you and which is best for your stage of recovery.


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