What is sublocade and how does it help treat opioid addiction?

What is Sublocade and how does it help treat opioid addiction - Centres for Health and Healing

In 2020, 12 Canadians died every day from an opioid overdose. At the end of the year, 4,395 lives were lost. Out of these deaths, 96% were accidental, and one of the biggest culprits is the contaminated drug supply spreading throughout the country.

While opioid addiction in prior years was largely prescription medications, street opioids are being manufactured that contain high levels of the deadly drug fentanyl.

For people who develop an opioid addiction, finding help is not always easy. Some do not feel they can stop their daily lives to complete an inpatient program; others are not even sure what options are available.

They may be unsure how they can stay sober after treatment, and this fear prevents them from ever reaching out.

At the Centres for Health & Healing, we specialize in offering clients medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction. This is becoming the gold standard for outpatient opioid treatment around the world; because people do not want or cannot enter inpatient rehab for weeks or months on end, MAT allows them to detox and recover from their addiction without putting their lives on hold.

Medications to Treat Opioid Addiction

Medications to treat opioid addiction - Centres for Health and Healing

Medications for opioid use disorder, or MOUDs, can lower the risk of overdose by as much as 50%. One common medication, SUBOXONE, contains naloxone, a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose for a short period.

Sublocade does not contain naloxone. Instead, it is pure buprenorphine, an opioid antagonist. Rather than prevent overdose, it decreases your overall cravings drastically, making you less likely to seek out opioids.

There are some differences between Sublocade and SUBOXONE, and knowing these can help you determine the best course of action for your recovery.

How Sublocade Works

Sublocade is taken once per month via injection by a qualified medical professional. The Food and Drug Approved Sublocade for opioid use disorder treatment in 2017.

Since its approval, addiction treatment centres have begun to adopt Sublocade as their leading MAT for opioid use disorder treatment.

Sublocade reduces cravings for opioids like heroin and fentanyl through buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist; this means it activates the same receptors in the brain as opioids but at a much lower rate.

After the injection, buprenorphine turns into a substance called a depot, which is continually released into the bloodstream throughout the month. This provides ongoing relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upset stomach and diarrhea
  • Light sensitivity
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches and cramps
  • Racing heart
  • Twitching and spasms
  • Watering eyes and runny nose

Sublocade also blocks the rewarding effects of opioids, so the typical “high” will no longer provide any desirable effects.

Sublocade vs. SUBOXONE

While they both serve the same function, the key differences between Sublocade and SUBOXONE are in how they are taken and how long they last.

  • Sublocade is taken once a month while SUBOXONE is taken daily
  • Sublocade is injected by a professional while SUBOXONE is taken orally via a film that you place under your tongue
  • Sublocade can only be given in a clinical setting while SUBOXONE can be taken in a rehab or at home
  • Sublocade must be taken after a patient has taken SUBOXONE or buprenorphine for at least 7 days

Side-Effects of Sublocade

Side effects of Sublocade - Centres for Health and Healing

As with any medication, there are potential side effects and risks when taking Sublocade. Pain, redness and itching at the injection site are common, and you may experience nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness and constipation.

Although some of the side-effects for Sublocade may be uncomfortable, they do resolve. With medical support, you can also get personal suggestions on how to minimize and manage any side effects you experience.

In some rare cases, people may experience an allergic reaction. However, it is unlikely to occur as you must first complete a trial of buprenorphine prior to your first injection.

What Are the Warning Signs of an Opioid Addiction?

While Sublocade is a promising treatment option, there are many people who are not even fully aware that they need intervention.

Opioid addiction can be subtle for those who develop a dependency through prescription medication. Those who abuse other drugs may explore opioids as they look for a more intense high.

While the use of opioid pain relievers has decreased, more people have begun to use synthetic and illegal opioids in their place.

If you or a loved one have an opioid problem, there are some specific signs to watch out for. If any of these are familiar, seeking treatment right away can prevent overdose.

Warning signs of opioid misuse and addiction include:

  • Strong cravings that gradually increase
  • Needing to take more or stronger opioids to get the same effect
  • Changes in exercise, sleep or lifestyle habits
  • Frequent fatigue or drowsiness
  • Frequently experiencing flu-like symptoms
  • Hiding opioid use from family and friends
  • Making excuses to take drugs
  • Stealing money from others to pay for opioids
  • Financial difficulties and work disturbances

Please bear in mind that not everyone will exhibit the same symptoms. Some people mask their opioid addiction for years before family and friends begin to catch on. If you feel your use has become problematic, there is no shame in seeking help.

How Sublocade Helps Treat Opioid Addiction

How Sublocade Helps treat opioid addiction - Centres for Health and Healing

Sublocade can be an easier way to manage withdrawal symptoms for people in opioid recovery. Taking SUBOXONE each day can become tiresome, especially if you do not remember to take your daily dose.

Because Sublocade only requires monthly injections, you can reap its benefits while focusing on other aspects of treatment. The purpose of Sublocade is to quell cravings and ease symptoms so people can focus on supportive therapies.

As with any type of MAT, Sublocade is meant to be used in combination with other types of opioid use disorder treatment. Therapy is the most effective tool for recovering from addiction.

Opioid use therapy stems beyond physical dependence and helps you heal from the underlying causes of your addiction. This can include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or another mental health issue. It also addresses factors such as your environment, general lifestyle, relationships and more.

Sublocade helps patients cope with the difficulties of opioid withdrawal and fully commit themselves to their treatment program.

Sublocade Opioid Treatment Options

At the Centres for Health & Healing, we use Sublocade as part of a larger opioid addiction treatment program. By combining it with other therapies, we help people lower cravings and free themselves from addictive behaviours.

Our Sublocade program is used alongside other addiction treatments, such as:

Every person deserves and receives individual care plans at the Centres for Health & Healing. We perform thorough assessments of your physical and mental health to deliver the ideal therapy for you.

Depending on the length and severity of your addiction, as well as any mental health diagnoses, we offer a personalized plan to reflect your needs.

There is a strong link between substance abuse and mental health conditions; co-occurring disorders, including depression and anxiety, can worsen addiction and delay treatment.

Therapy supports the physical benefits of Sublocade during opioid addiction treatment. Recovery helps clients identify all of their risk factors, heal from unresolved trauma and develop healthier coping skills for stress, cravings and more.

Who Qualifies for Sublocade Treatment?

You may benefit from Sublocade treatment if you are currently dependent on prescription or illegal opioids.

Before you can start Sublocade treatment, you must complete a 7-day of SUBOXONE and be able to tolerate buprenorphine.

Some of the drugs that Sublocade can help treat are:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • OxyContin
  • Vicodin
  • Morphine

In order to qualify for Sublocade, you must first enrol in an addiction treatment program with a licensed provider. Your regular doctor will not be able to provide a prescription for Sublocade as it can only be administered by an addiction’s specialist.

A New Chance After Relapse

Even if you have previously gone through treatment and relapsed, Sublocade may be able to help. Opioids alter the brain chemistry, and they are some of the most physically demanding drugs you can be addicted to. Living without them in your system can be draining and difficult, even if you are mentally ready to commit to sobriety.

While previous addiction models only strove to treat patients through psychological interventions, modern therapies are much more nuanced.

Today, therapists, doctors and addiction experts use a combination of tools, techniques and medications to help people recover.

Although relapse is a common part of the recovery journey, it does not have to be the end of yours. Because the stress of treatment can increase the risk of relapse, managing physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings is important.

Contact Us to Learn More

With Sublocade, many people gain clarity and relief that they lacked in prior attempts to quit opioids. The ease of use and efficacy of the medication makes it a valuable resource for people exploring different recovery options.

If you would like to learn more about Sublocade and explore your treatment options, please contact the Centres for Health & Healing today.

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