Opioid use disorder (OUD) is an immensely harmful disease and a growing public health crisis — characterized by the inability to cease the compulsive use of opioids. Opioids include prescription painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, semi-synthetic heroin, synthetics like fentanyl, and naturally occurring opiates like morphine. These drugs bind to opioid receptors in the brain, producing feelings of euphoria and pain relief, but also lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms — not to mention dire physical, mental, and social side effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2018, with millions surviving but still suffering from opioid addiction. Currently, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder is medication-assisted treatment (MAT), involving pharmaceutical aid combined with behavioral therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and contingency management.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a scientifically proven approach to treating opioid use disorder that involves the use of FDA-approved medications along with counseling and behavioral therapies. The most commonly used medications for MAT include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone — sold under brand names in various forms and combinations. These medications work by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms and blocking the effects of opioids. Research has shown that MAT is effective in reducing opioid use and improving overall health outcomes for those with opioid use disorder. In fact, studies have found that MAT can increase the chances of long-term recovery by over 50% when compared to behavioral therapies alone. With its proven track record of success, MAT is a crucial component of a comprehensive approach to treating opioid use disorder.
What Is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a common medicine used for the medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorder. It contains two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it acts on the same receptors in the brain as opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers, but with a lower potency. Buprenorphine reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid use. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, blocking the effects of opioids while preventing abuse of the medication. Suboxone is administered as a sublingual (under the tongue) film, taken once a day. The most common side effects of Suboxone include:
Sometimes, more serious side effects can occur, including allergic reactions, breathing problems, and liver damage. If any of the above symptoms occur, certainly speak with your doctor. Individuals who are taking Suboxone should not use opioids or drink alcohol while taking the medication, as this can lead to serious side effects or even death. Patients should also not discontinue Suboxone suddenly, as this can cause withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Sublocade?
Sublocade is an extended-release prescription medicine that contains the active ingredient buprenorphine. It is one drug used in the medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction and is administered as a monthly injection. Sublocade works by binding to the same receptors in the brain that are targeted by opioids, reducing cravings and helping to prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Sublocade has a ceiling effect, meaning that even if a person takes more than the prescribed dose, it will not result in any greater euphoric sensation.
Some common side effects of Sublocade may include nausea, constipation, headaches, and redness or swelling at the injection site. It is important to use Sublocade as directed by a healthcare provider and to not discontinue use abruptly, as this can cause withdrawal symptoms.
Differences Between Suboxone And Sublocade
While Suboxone and Sublocade serve similar purposes, they are distinguishable in several ways. Here are the key differences.
- Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone, while Sublocade only contains buprenorphine.
- Suboxone is taken as a sublingual tablet or film and is dosed daily, while Sublocade is administered as a monthly injection.
- Sublocade provides a steady level of medication throughout the month, whereas the level of medication in the body can fluctuate with daily dosing of Suboxone.
- Sublocade eliminates the risk of misusing the medication, while Suboxone still has the potential to be abused if not taken as prescribed.
The choice between the two medications will depend on individual factors, such as dosing frequency preference and risk of medication misuse. This decision should be made in consultation with a doctor, who can accurately assess and consider the needs and circumstances of a patient.
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If you or a loved one is currently struggling with opioid addiction, please contact us. We can help you overcome this struggle and live a healthy and happy life.