Could Sublocade Be The Answer To Opioid Addiction?

Addiction is a serious disease that affects the brain. No matter what kind of addiction is present, it can be hard to work through. Living with addiction can seem impossible because it consumes lives, changes people, and distorts behaviors, thoughts, and actions.

Yet, there are different kinds of addiction. Despite how the brain may react to (or prolong) addiction, the treatment methods can vary by the source of addiction. Of them all, opioid addiction requires specific treatment methods that are not going to work overnight. For users of opioids, this can pose a deterrent from getting help.

Opioid addiction is, like any drug addiction, a long-term chronic disease. It’s not easily overcome and can go on to cause issues with health and a user’s ability to sustain a normal lifestyle. For this reason, it’s crucial that addicts are able to get the support and help that they need. 

Help for Opioid Addiction

It’s not always easy to an opioid user to know what the best treatment may be. At the same time, loved ones of the user may be confused, stressed, and unsure of how to help too. Therefore, it’s essential to consider different treatment options– one of which could be Sublocade.

Sublocade is an opioid addiction treatment option that could prove beneficial to users after the initial three phases have been completed. It’s an extended-release buprenorphine treatment that alongside therapy can have positive effects on overcoming opioid addiction. If you’re currently suffering from opioid addiction, or you know someone who is, Sublocade could be a viable choice. However, before we uncover the facts, benefits and consider its suitability, it’s essential to understand opioids and opioid addiction first.

sublocade for opioid addiction

Image from www.drugabuse.gov

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a group of pharmaceutical drugs that are primarily used for pain relief. Essentially, they block some of the pain signals to your brain, allowing those that have suffered from an injury, in accidents, or with a terminal illness to gain temporary relief.

Opioids also affect the pleasure center of the brain by releasing dopamine. But in doing so, opioids can change how your brain responds to the pain. Common conditions that a doctor is likely to prescribe an opioid as pain relief for can include:

  • Tooth pain and dental work
  • Injuries
  • Surgery
  • Terminal illnesses, like cancer
  • Chronic pain or illnesses, like Lupus or Fibromyalgia

In terms of the opioids themselves, common medicines that are prescribed by doctors include opioids oxycodone, fentanyl, buprenorphine, codeine, morphine, and methadone.

In most cases, the use of opioids for pain relief can be incredibly effective – and safe. When used as prescribed, they can treat the condition and not go on to cause any other issue. However, when misused, and when users are not following the guidelines as given by a doctor, then addiction can occur.

The Reality of Opioid Addiction

It’s not always easy for people to understand why some medications are addictive, and some aren’t. But the group of opioid medicines can have highly addictive results if used in the wrong way, more often or for a longer period of time than what was originally prescribed.

As we have discussed, addiction is a condition of the brain. When it comes to using opioids, it is initially a choice. You can say yes to an opioid-based prescription for a condition that you’re looking to treat, to then go on and become addicted. This is due to the effect that opioids have on the brain.

When you take opioid-based medication correctly, you should be fine. Yet, when you misuse that prescription, your brain can release a pleasurable reaction which encourages you to keep using it. Then, as time goes on, the brain changes to produce a powerful urge to continue taking the drug. That powerful urge can be present even when the need to take the opioid is there medically.

sublocade for opioids

The more an opioid is used, the more tolerant your body can become to it. Over time, the desire to take more of the medication takes place in order for it to have the same effect.

Opioid addiction can be life-threatening. Overdose is a huge concern and can risk the lives of users. Because of this risk, it’s essential for opioid addicts to seek treatment as soon as possible. While there is no sound knowledge as to why some people are addicted and others aren’t, it may be the case that genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors play a part in it.

There is a range of treatments that can be sought or recommended for opioid addiction. Of which, Sublocade has been a more recently approved treatment method by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Let’s delve a little deeper into this.

What Is Sublocade?

Sublocade is an opioid treatment that releases buprenorphine continuously, with the aim of maintaining sustained levels of the medication throughout the course of a month. As we have discovered, buprenorphine is a form of opioid medication. But this can be used to treat addiction when the early stages of treatment are complete. It’s said to work by aiding in both the reduction of drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can be used by recovering addicts when looking to sustain sobriety in the long-run.

The use of Sublocade as an opioid treatment option is designed to work alongside counseling to reach treatment success. But let’s look a little more closely at how it works.

How It Works

As mentioned, Sublocade is a once-monthly treatment that contains extended-release buprenorphine. The medication will gradually be released into the body over time, with the aim of minimizing the need to seek treatment in that month’s period. As such, the release of buprenorphine is controlled at the right levels throughout that duration. The clinical trials that have been carried out on Sublocade show that the buprenorphine levels were sustained during the course of the treatment.

At the same time, throughout the aforementioned Sublocade 12-week study, blocked the more rewarding aspects of opioid addiction. As we have discovered, it’s said pleasure or feelings of reward that can then encourage a user to succumb to their opioid addiction. However, it’s important to note that the body can then also develop a need for Sublocade. This can be seen as dependence on Sublocade. As a result, if Sublocade treatment is stopped, then opioid withdrawal symptoms occur.

sublocade

Although, the way in which Sublocade does work shows that it could be an effective treatment option for those that are currently battling opioid addiction. Opioids attach to receptors in the brain that then release said pleasurable or pain-blocking feelings. As a result, positive reinforcement can take place, which can lead to the likelihood of users continuing to take opioids.

The way Sublocade works specifically aims to mimic that. Sublocade contains a partial opioid agonist, meaning it can attach to the receptors and make it hard for other opioids to attach. It basically blocks harmful opioids from binding to the same receptors, making it difficult to feel an opioid “high”. 

In terms of the most important information regarding the treatment, it’s important to understand the below information:

  • Sublocade can be potentially harmful and life-threatening when self-administered – particularly if injecting into a vein. Therefore, users seeking the treatment can only do so through the Sublocade REMS program.
  • As a result, you will not find Sublocade sold at retail pharmacies.
  • Sublocade injections can only be administered to patients by a certified healthcare professional.
  • It’s essential that users of Sublocade are aware of the safety risks and concerned while taking the medication. If ever in an emergency situation, it’s essential for the user to disclose the opioid dependency to medical staff, alongside the current treatment process with Sublocade. Again, Sublocade contains the medicine buprenorphine, which can be life-threatening when taken with other medications. We’re not going to consider the safety requirements in more detail.

How To Use Sublocade Safely

When taking medication, it’s essential that you follow the right precautions. If not taken as advised, medication can be lethal. As we are dealing with addiction treatment, the medication in question (in this case Sublocade with buprenorphine) can be dangerous if not taken in the right way. So it’s important to understand how a user seeking opioid treatment can take Sublocade in the correct way in order to get successful results.

sublocade treatment for opioid addiction

In its most basic form, Sublocade is:

An injectable medicine used to treat moderate or severe addiction to opioid-based drugs in adults. Such adults are to have been administered an oral-based medicine containing buprenorphine at the correct withdrawal symptom controlling rate, for at least seven days. It should be used as part of a treatment plan that also includes therapy.

Now, let’s consider some of the most crucial things that you may need to know before considering Sublocade as a suitable treatment option.

When NOT To Use It

It is vital that you do NOT use Sublocade if are allergic to, or could be allergic to, buprenorphine or any of the other ingredients used to create the medicine and packaging used. Do ensure that you consult Sublocade or your doctor directly for this.

Medications NOT To Mix

Another key point to bear in mind here is that many prescription medications should not be taken whilst on the Sublocade treatment plan. This can also include over-the-counter medicines, and even vitamins or herbal supplements. The reason being is that Sublocade can alter the way that other medications work, and vice versa.

In some cases, this can even be life-threatening. It’s essential to disclose the medications you do take whilst discussing whether Sublocade is a suitable treatment for you. Some to be aware of include

  • Anxiety medications or benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanax are examples of this)
  • Sleeping pills or sedatives, and any kinds of muscle relaxants or even tranquilizers (Ambien is an example of this).
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines

It’s essential to be honest about the medications you are taking, or to disclose that you’re currently receiving Sublocade treatment when discussing other treatments with health professionals. Mixing the wrong medications can lead to serious illness, injury, and even death. Remember that you may have some traceable amounts of Sublocade in your body for quite some time, even after stopping the treatment, and this needs to be accounted for when considering other medications.

What To Avoid

It’s not just medicines that you might need to avoid whilst being treated with Sublocade for your own protection and the protection of others. Here are two important factors to bear in mind;

  • Activities – Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you are confident that you are aware of how Sublocade affects you. This also includes other dangerous activities. The reason being that medicine buprenorphine can lead to drowsiness and slow down your reactions too. This is particularly noticeable for a few days following the Sublocade injection and also if and when your dosage changes.
  • Alcohol – You must not drink alcohol whilst receiving Sublocade treatment. Alcohol can also induce drowsiness and slow down your reaction times, it can also affect your breathing, cause unconsciousness, and potentially death. Don’t mix alcohol with any prescriptions. 

sublocade

Possible Side Effects

You’ll want to be aware of the side effects that could happen. As with most medications, side effects can occur. It’s essential that you know what may happen as to manage your adjustment to the Sublocade accordingly. Some of the most serious side effects include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms – It’s likely that your body could develop a physical dependence on Sublocade. This will mean that stopping the treatment can lead to common symptoms such as shaking, aches and pains, excessive sweating, drastic changes in temperature, diarrhea and or vomiting, weeks or even months later.
  • Liver complications – If you start to notice issues such as jaundice, dark urine, pale bowel movements, a drop in appetite, or stomach pain or nausea, speak to your doctor – as you may be experiencing liver problems.
  • An Allergic Reaction – If you experience symptoms such as developing a rash, a swollen face, difficulty breathing, or dizziness, as you may be allergic to Sublocade.
  • Low Blood Pressure – If so, you may notice that you’re feeling dizzy or drowsy when you get up after sitting or lying down.

There are only some of the more extreme side effects. They won’t be present in every case, but it’s important to be aware of them.

Some of the more common side effects include:

  • constipation
  • headaches
  • feeling sick
  • an itching sensation where the injection was administered
  • tiredness
  • pain in the injection area

You should also be aware that long term usage of Sublocade can lead to fertility issues, so do be sure to discuss this with your doctor beforehand.

Is Sublocade Right For You?

Before we move onto the conjunction of Sublocade with additional treatment methods, you ought to be aware as to whether or not it could be a suitable treatment option for you. Because there are some instances where pre-existing medical conditions may mean it’s not the best option. 

Sublocade is NOT for you if:

  • Alcoholism – whether a current dependency or a history of alcoholism
  • Mental illness
  • Pregnancy or plans to become pregnant – as opioid dependency can be passed onto the baby, and they may subsequently experience withdrawals. This also includes breastfeeding mothers.
  • Breathing or lung problems
  • Brain or head injuries
  • Scoliosis
  • Low thyroid hormone levels

Again, your doctor can advise you more specifically here.

Sublocade And Detoxing

The next stage in understanding Sublocade and how it can treat opioid addiction is knowing how it can be used alongside other treatment methods. The most important one of all to consider is detoxing. Now, to fully overcome opioid addiction, it’s said that detoxing needs to take place first. This is the initial stage.

Sublocade is not to be used during detox. It’s advisable that healthcare professionals only administer Sublocade after the early stage of treatment, combined with therapy, has taken place.

addiction treatment with sublocade

In total, the early stages of treatment can last three or four months. The detoxification phase typically carried out under the supervision of healthcare professionals in a suitable facility will then be followed by both partial care, and an outpatient program. Only at this stage may Sublocade be introduced. If you’re interested in Sublocade treatment, it’s important to understand that detoxing is still necessary. Sublocade is not to be used as a replacement.

Note that buprenorphine will still be administered during the early phases, but the dosage is likely to be significantly higher. It is then adjusted accordingly going forward. And Sublocade may not be able to do that are the right rates.

Sublocade And Therapy

Sublocade should be administered at the same time as therapy. Although therapy is likely to have been carried out during the early phases of treatment, it can prove crucial to the success of the treatment program whilst addicts are receiving Sublocade. This is to help manage the different aspects of the addiction.

However, you will need to speak to your healthcare provider in order to arrange the counseling service. You could arrange the provision of this service through them, using their preferred team, or you could set this up independently yourself. It is important for you to be comfortable with the counselor that you’re using, so consider doing the right research, or asking your loved ones to do it on your behalf.

sublocade for long term addiction treatment

Essentially, this is going to help you to manage the triggers that may lead you to relapse or make your treatment experience difficult. It’s important to get it right. At the same time, you may want to encourage your loved ones to learn more about addiction and the Sublocade treatment, so that they can become a source of support to you too.

Sublocade and Other Medications

We’ve already covered the concerns of taking Sublocade while on other medications, but it’s absolutely essential that users looking to undertake this treatment do not take opioids simultaneously. This can cause an overdose. And while it may be the case that some options that contain naloxone can reduce the risk of overdose; they should still be avoided.

If your Sublocade treatment (and in fact any treatment) is to be effective,  you must avoid opioid use. Otherwise, the results will not be successful. It’s for this reason that you may want to voluntarily succumb to urine samples so that your healthcare provider can be sure that you’re sticking to the treatment as you should be.

As you may be aware, overdose on Sublocade is unlikely, as it can only be administered by a healthcare professional. However, as the dosage will only release over the course of one month, it’s essential for repeat appointments to be made for it to be readministered on time, to avoid the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Getting Support For Opioid Addiction

If you are concerned about your opioid addiction, whether or not you decide that Sublocade is right for you, you may also need on-going support to cope with the lifestyle changes, triggers, and monitoring your life overall. As much as your counselor can assist here, you may not wish to undergo this treatment forever – nor may it be possible. Yet, other forms of support may be available.

While detoxification, therapy, and medicinal treatment can be extremely successful, you may find that self-help is important. This can be achieved via support groups and self-improvement. A prime example of the kind of group here is Narcotics Anonymous. However, you may want to consider what kind of specific support is available in your area or even online.

In Conclusion

Opioid addiction is a serious chronic illness of the brain. It may be impossible for opioid users to successfully overcome their addiction alone. Yet, success can be found with the right treatment methods. One of which is Sublocade. By slowly administering doses of buprenorphine over the course of one month. It’s essential that the right preparation is taken before Sublocade treatment is carried out, namely the previously aforementioned oral treatment for at least seven days prior. However, when used in conjunction with ongoing counseling, Sublocade may be a long-term fix for those looking to overcome opioid addiction.

If you or a loved one needs help, call us at 949-625-4019.

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