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What to Expect During Sublocade Treatment in Massachusetts?

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sublocade treatment in massachusetts
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Opioids are some of the most difficult drugs to quit using. They are both physically and mentally addictive, and they produce long-lasting flu-like withdrawal symptoms that make the first few weeks of sobriety miserable. Overcoming opioid addiction can be extremely challenging, but medications like Sublocade can help.

Sublocade is the first injectable form of buprenorphine that has been approved to treat opioid use disorder. It is highly effective when combined with behavioral therapy, counseling, and peer support. Sublocade treatment programs in Massachusetts can provide patients with the evidence-based solutions they need to achieve long-term recovery.

What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a brand-name medication containing buprenorphine. Unlike other buprenorphine products that come in the form of an oral tablet, Sublocade is a once-monthly injection that gradually releases a steady dose of buprenorphine throughout the body for an entire month. It is the first extended-release buprenorphine product to be approved by the FDA for use in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.[1]

How Does Sublocade Work?

Sublocade comes in the form of a subcutaneous injection that is administered just below the skin on the abdomen. The injection is a liquid that turns into a solid gel once inside the body. This solid gel is referred to as a depot (dee-poh). The depot contains buprenorphine which is gradually released at a controlled rate all month long.[2]

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist-antagonist. It is a medication that has been used to treat opioid use disorder for several years. Buprenorphine binds to and partially activates opioid receptors without producing the same effects as other opioids. As a result, the medication can reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and eliminate drug cravings.

Sublocade is meant to be used as part of a comprehensive treatment program that involves individualized care, behavioral therapy, and counseling. It is not meant to treat opioid addiction by itself.

What is Sublocade Treatment Like in Massachusetts?

Anyone who struggles with an addiction to opioids may benefit from a Sublocade treatment program. Here is what patients can expect:

Medically-Assisted Detox With Buprenorphine

The first aspect of any opioid treatment program is detox. Sublocade is intended for use in patients who have already been taking a steady dose of buprenorphine for at least seven (7) days.[2] As a result, it is typically not given during the detox phase of treatment. Instead, patients must detox from opioids using another form of buprenorphine.

Patients may take Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone), a transmucosal strip, or Subutex (buprenorphine), an oral pill, as they detox from opioid drugs. Detox is usually done on an inpatient basis so individuals can be supervised 24/7.

Monthly Sublocade Injections

After patients have fully detoxed and have been on buprenorphine for at least one week, they may receive their first Sublocade injection. Sublocade can only be administered in a doctor’s office so patients must visit their doctor on a monthly basis to receive the shot. The most commonly reported side effects of Sublocade are injection site reactions such as swelling, redness, irritation, and itching at the injection site.

Other potential side effects of buprenorphine include:

  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness

In most cases, these side effects are mild and temporary.

sublocade treatment in mass

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Evidence-Based Therapies

The most important aspect of Sublocade treatment in Massachusetts is therapy. Sublocade only treats symptoms of withdrawal and drug cravings, and most patients won’t be on Sublocade forever. As a result, it is imperative to learn healthy coping skills and make productive lifestyle changes that support recovery.

Therapy and counseling aim to help individuals identify and overcome the underlying causes of their substance abuse. These causes can range from mental illness to trauma. Behavioral therapy sessions also help patients identify and replace maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, and coping mechanisms. Patients must learn how to identify triggers, cope with difficult emotions, and prevent relapse.

Types of therapy that may be used during opioid treatment with Sublocade include:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
  • Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
  • Motivational Interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency Management (CM)
  • Family Therapy
  • Dual-Diagnosis Therapy
  • Trauma Therapy

Therapies should be tailored to each patient’s specific needs, remaining sensitive to one’s culture, religion, background, ethnicity, experiences, and beliefs.

Benefits of Treating Opioid Addiction With Sublocade

There are many benefits of using a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) approach. According to SAMHSA, MAT has been shown to:[3]

  • Improve patient survival during and after rehab
  • Increase treatment retention rates
  • Improved ability to gain and maintain employment after treatment
  • Decreased rates of illicit opioid use and criminal activity

While there are many medications used to treat opioid use disorder, Sublocade is preferred by some for various reasons. First, Sublocade is a once-monthly injection, so individuals do not have to worry about adhering to a daily medication schedule. They also have no way of abusing the medication because it is highly regulated and only administered by medical professionals. Lastly, buprenorphine products are thought to be safer and less addictive than methadone products.[2]

Get Help Now

Start Sublocade Treatment in Massachusetts Today

Sublocade is not right for everyone and it should never be used without guidance from a licensed medical provider. If you or a loved one struggles with opioid addiction and are curious about treating your addiction with Sublocade, reach out to one of our admissions coordinators today. We would be glad to take your call, assess your needs, and connect you with the right treatment program for you.


  1. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-once-monthly-buprenorphine-injection-medication-assisted-treatment-option-opioid
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6889966/
  3. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment
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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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