Sublocade is an injectable form of the opioid buprenorphine that is typically prescribed as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people with opioid use disorder.

When you are trying to quit opioids, withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be hurdles that are hard to overcome. However, some medications can ease withdrawal symptoms and the cravings that accompany them, increasing your chances of staying sober. One of the top medications prescribed to help people recover from opioid abuse is Sublocade.

What Is Sublocade?

Sublocade is an injectable form of the opioid buprenorphine. It is a Schedule II controlled substance that is typically prescribed as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people with opioid use disorder. A person can be prescribed Sublocade to help treat or prevent withdrawal symptoms or to avoid using illicit opioids.

As an injectable medication, Sublocade must be given by a healthcare provider. It is not available at retail pharmacies.

How Does Sublocade Work?

Sublocade works by partially activating the mu-opioid receptors in your central nervous system. When you take an illicit opioid, it works on these same receptors, fully activating them and causing a high. By binding to these mu receptors, Subclocade prevents you from having opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, Sublocade additionally blocks these mu-opioid receptors from experiencing a stronger, euphoric high if you slip up and take an illicit opioid.

Some people may prefer the Sublocade injection over other types of buprenorphine because the injection only needs to be given once monthly. This is in contrast to other dosage forms of buprenorphine, which need to be given on a daily basis.

In addition, Sublocade may work more reliably than oral doses of buprenorphine because buprenorphine levels in your system tend to fluctuate less than they do when taken orally.

Sublocade for Opioid Withdrawal

The main ingredient in Sublocade is the opioid buprenorphine, which is one of the top recommended medications for MAT. Buprenorphine works by acting as a partial agonist — or partial activator — at the mu-opioid receptor site in the central nervous system. This is the same receptor that triggers a high when more potent illicit opioids bind to it. Buprenorphine both blocks withdrawal symptoms and helps prevent a high if you relapse and take an illicit opioid.

Before starting Sublocade, it is important that a person be taking oral buprenorphine for at least a week. A person can then be converted to Sublocade.

Sublocade vs. Suboxone

Sublocade and Suboxone are both buprenorphine-containing drugs that can be prescribed to treat opioid addiction. However, the drugs have many differences. 

Place in therapy for opioid addictionFirst-line option along with methadoneFirst-line option along with methadone
IngredientsBuprenorphineBuprenorphine and naloxone
Can be started immediately upon stopping opioidsNo, a person must be stable on oral buprenorphine (like Suboxone) for at least a weekYes
Can prevent opioid withdrawal symptomsYesYes
Can prevent a high if you slip up and take an illicit opioidYesYes
Controlled substance statusYes, Schedule II controlled substanceYes, Schedule II controlled substance
How often givenInjected once monthlyGiven by mouth once daily
Can be self-administeredNo, must be injected by a health care providerYes

Sublocade Side Effects

Like any drug, Sublocade has side effects. Some side effects are injection-related effects on the skin, while others are linked to the drug itself. Side effects include:

  • Injection site reactions, including pain, swelling, bruising or redness (affects up to 16.5% of people)
  • Headache (affects up to 9.5% of people)
  • Constipation (affects up to 8% of people)
  • Nausea (affects up to 8% of people)
  • Fatigue (affects up to 6% of people)

Sublocade FAQs

How much does Sublocade cost?

The list price for Sublocade is high, about $1829 per month for the drug alone. In addition, because it needs to be given by a healthcare provider, a doctor’s visit will be required. However, insurance often covers Sublocade, and the manufacturer has a copay assistance program called INSUPPORT.

How long does Sublocade last?

Sublocade lasts for a month and needs to be re-administered on a monthly basis.

What happens if you use opioids on Sublocade?

Because Sublocade’s active ingredient buprenorphine partially blocks the mu-opioid receptors in your brain, using opioids while on Sublocade will blunt the effect of the illicit opioid you take. You will most likely not get a high from the opioid.

How long does Sublocade stay in your system?

Sublocade is long-acting and can stay in your system for months or even years. It can stay in your bloodstream between 43 and 60 days, and traces can be found in your urine for between 22 to 38 months.

Sublocade Treatment Program

Before starting Sublocade, a person must first be started on a form of buprenorphine that is taken by mouth. These dosage forms include Suboxone, Bunavail, Subutex and Zubsolv. After taking at least an 8 mg dose of one of the oral dosage forms for at least seven days, a person can be converted to Sublocade. Because it is an injectable medication, Sublocade must be given by a health care provider at a doctor’s office or rehab treatment center.

The starting dose of Sublocade is 300 mg monthly for two months, followed by an ongoing dose of 100 mg monthly. If a person still craves or takes illicit opioids on the Sublocade 100 mg dose, the dose can be increased up to 300 mg monthly.

Sublocade Shot Near Me

Denver Mental Health and Counseling offers Sublocade injections as medically appropriate to help you overcome opioid use disorder. Our outpatient mental health services are designed to help you overcome substance abuse by integrating the needs of both your body and mind for lifelong recovery. Levels of care include intensive outpatient and traditional outpatient programs, each involving individual and group therapy, medication management, and dual diagnosis care for co-occurring disorders, as needed.

If you or a loved one struggles with opioids, don’t wait: contact us today to learn how our licensed team of addiction professionals can start you on the road to a more satisfying life in recovery. 

Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD
Dr. Jessica Pyhtila is a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist based in Baltimore, Maryland with practice sites in inpatient palliative care and outpatient primary care at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Read more

Singh, Dharminder; Saadabadi, Abdolreza.”Naltrexone.” StatPearls, February 16, 2022. Accessed March 24, 2022.

American Society of Addiction Medicine. “National Practice Guideline for the Trea[…] Opioid Use Disorder.” December 18, 2019. Accessed March 24, 2022.

American Psychiatric Association. “Practice Guideline for the Pharmacologic[…]Alcohol Use Disorder.” 2018. Accessed March 24, 2022. “Drug Interaction Report.” Accessed March 24, 2022. “Naltrexone.” July 19, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022. “Vivitrol.” March 1, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022. “Sublocade.” June 1, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022. “Suboxone.” June 1, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022. “Methadone.” June 1, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2022.GoodRX. “Vivitrol.” Accessed March 24, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer

Denver Mental Health Counseling by The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.