Is Sublocade the same as Suboxone? Learn the Key Differences

Are you curious about the differences between Sublocade and Suboxone? If you or someone you know is seeking treatment for opioid dependency, it’s essential to understand the nuances between these two medications. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of Sublocade and Suboxone, helping you make an informed decision regarding the most suitable treatment for your needs.

Table of contents
  • Administration: Sublocade and Suboxone have distinct methods of administration, which can significantly impact their effectiveness.
  • Composition: Both medications contain active ingredients with unique properties for managing opioid dependence.
  • Duration of Effectiveness: Understanding how long each treatment remains effective can influence the choice of medication.
  • Frequency of Dosage: Learn about the dosing schedules for Sublocade and Suboxone and their implications on treatment compliance.
  • Medical Uses and Applications: Explore the specific medical applications of Sublocade and Suboxone in opioid addiction treatment.
  • Cost Comparison: Compare the costs of Sublocade and Suboxone to make an informed financial decision.


Sublocade is administered as a monthly injection, while Suboxone is typically taken sublingually in the form of a dissolving tablet or film. The differences in administration can impact patient convenience and adherence to the treatment plan. While Suboxone requires daily self-administration, Sublocade’s monthly injection may provide greater ease of use for some individuals, as it eliminates the need for daily doses.


Sublocade’s active ingredient is buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist that helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Suboxone contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, the latter of which discourages misuse by blocking opioid receptors. This distinction is essential, as naloxone in Suboxone can precipitate withdrawal if used by individuals still dependent on full opioids.

Sublocade Composition

  • Buprenorphine: The primary active ingredient in Sublocade, which alleviates opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Suboxone Composition

  • Buprenorphine: The main active ingredient, similar to Sublocade, it eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Naloxone: A secondary ingredient that blocks opioid receptors, deterring misuse of the medication.

Duration of Effectiveness

Sublocade provides a continuous release of buprenorphine over the course of a month, maintaining a consistent therapeutic effect. On the other hand, Suboxone’s effectiveness is contingent on daily administration, making it crucial for patients to adhere strictly to the prescribed dosage to ensure continuous relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
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Sublocade Duration of Effectiveness

  • Monthly Release: Sublocade is formulated to provide a steady release of buprenorphine over a period of one month.

Suboxone Duration of Effectiveness

  • Daily Administration: Suboxone’s effectiveness relies on daily intake, and missed doses can lead to reduced therapeutic effects.

Frequency of Dosage

Sublocade’s monthly dosing regimen can be advantageous for individuals who may struggle with daily medication adherence. It provides a more extended period of relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings, reducing the chance of missing a dose. In contrast, Suboxone’s daily dosing requires greater responsibility and discipline from patients to ensure consistent treatment efficacy.

Sublocade Frequency of Dosage

Sublocade is administered once a month by a healthcare professional, providing continuous relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings throughout the month.

Suboxone Frequency of Dosage

Suboxone is typically taken once daily, either as a sublingual tablet or film, requiring patients to be diligent in adhering to the prescribed dosage schedule.

Sublocade Dosage Administration

  • Monthly Injection: Sublocade is given as a monthly intramuscular injection, ensuring a steady release of buprenorphine over the course of a month.
  • Administered by Healthcare Professionals: The injection is performed by trained healthcare providers, ensuring proper and safe administration.

Suboxone Dosage Administration

  • Sublingual Administration: Suboxone is taken sublingually, allowing the medication to dissolve under the tongue.
  • Self-Administration: Patients are responsible for taking Suboxone daily, following the prescribed dosage guidelines.

Medical Uses and Applications

Both Sublocade and Suboxone are primarily used in the treatment of opioid dependence. They can be effective in managing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery journey. However, there are specific cases where one medication might be preferred over the other.

Medical Uses of Sublocade

Sublocade is commonly prescribed for individuals who have already stabilized their opioid addiction using Suboxone or other forms of buprenorphine. It offers a convenient monthly treatment option for those who may struggle with daily medication adherence.

Medical Uses of Suboxone

Suboxone is a widely used medication for opioid addiction treatment, suitable for both induction and maintenance phases of therapy. It is often prescribed during the initial stages of treatment and can be continued for long-term maintenance.

Sublocade Applications

  • Stabilized Patients: Sublocade is typically prescribed to individuals who have successfully transitioned from Suboxone or other buprenorphine-based treatments and achieved a stable state of recovery.
  • Treatment Compliance: For patients struggling with daily dosing adherence, Sublocade offers a less frequent treatment option that can improve compliance and outcomes.

Suboxone Applications

  • Induction Treatment: Suboxone is commonly used during the initial stages of opioid addiction treatment to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  • Maintenance Therapy: Suboxone can be prescribed for long-term maintenance to support sustained recovery from opioid addiction.

Cost Comparison

The cost of medication can be a significant consideration for individuals seeking treatment for opioid dependence. Understanding the financial implications of Sublocade and Suboxone can help patients make an informed decision about their treatment plan.

Cost of Sublocade

Sublocade’s monthly injection may have a higher upfront cost compared to Suboxone due to the nature of its administration. However, the extended duration between doses can lead to potential cost savings in the long run.

Cost of Suboxone

Suboxone’s daily dosing requirement may result in lower immediate costs compared to Sublocade. However, the cumulative expenses over time may be higher when considering the need for daily medication refills.

Sublocade Cost Considerations

  • Monthly Pricing: Sublocade’s pricing is based on a monthly injection, which can result in a larger upfront cost during each visit to a healthcare provider.
  • Potential Savings: The longer duration of effectiveness with Sublocade may lead to reduced overall expenses, especially for patients with stable recovery who require fewer clinic visits.
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Suboxone Cost Considerations

  • Daily Dosing Costs: Suboxone’s cost is typically based on a daily dose, which may result in lower immediate expenses.
  • Long-Term Expenses: Patients on Suboxone will need to consider the cumulative costs over time, including frequent medication refills and clinic visits for prescription renewals.

Availability and Accessibility

Access to suitable treatment is essential for individuals seeking help for opioid dependence. The availability and accessibility of Sublocade and Suboxone can vary based on factors such as geographical location and healthcare facilities.

Access to Sublocade

Sublocade’s administration requires a healthcare provider trained in the injection process. As a newer treatment option, its availability may be limited in certain regions or medical settings.

Access to Suboxone

Suboxone is widely available and prescribed by healthcare providers experienced in opioid addiction treatment. Its accessibility may be higher compared to Sublocade due to its longer presence in the market.

Sublocade Availability

  • Specialized Clinics: Sublocade is often available in clinics or treatment centers specializing in opioid addiction therapy.
  • Geographical Variability: The availability of Sublocade may vary depending on the region, with some areas having more extensive access than others.

Suboxone Accessibility

  • Wide Prescribing Base: Suboxone is commonly prescribed by various healthcare providers, including addiction specialists, primary care physicians, and psychiatrists.
  • Pharmacy Dispensing: Suboxone can be dispensed by pharmacies, making it accessible to patients who do not have immediate access to specialty clinics.

Understanding the legal status and prescription requirements of Sublocade and Suboxone is crucial for individuals seeking opioid addiction treatment. Compliance with legal regulations and prescription guidelines ensures safe and appropriate usage of these medications.

Sublocade is a prescription medication and is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This classification means it has a moderate to low potential for abuse and has accepted medical uses.

Prescription Requirements for Sublocade

To obtain Sublocade, individuals must receive a prescription from a licensed healthcare provider, typically an addiction specialist or healthcare professional experienced in opioid addiction treatment.
  • Schedule III Classification: Sublocade is categorized as a Schedule III controlled substance, indicating its medical value with a lower risk of abuse compared to higher schedule categories.
  • Prescription-Only Medication: Sublocade cannot be obtained without a valid prescription from a qualified healthcare provider.

Sublocade Prescription Requirements

  • Prescribing Providers: Sublocade can only be prescribed by licensed healthcare providers who are authorized to treat opioid addiction.
  • Treatment Plan Evaluation: Before prescribing Sublocade, the healthcare provider will assess the patient’s medical history, opioid dependency severity, and treatment needs.

Suboxone is also a prescription medication and is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance by the DEA, similar to Sublocade.

Prescription Requirements for Suboxone

Obtaining Suboxone requires a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider experienced in opioid addiction treatment.
  • Schedule III Classification: Suboxone is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, indicating its medical use with a lower potential for abuse.
  • Prescription-Only Medication: Suboxone cannot be obtained without a valid prescription from a qualified healthcare provider.

Suboxone Prescription Requirements

  • Prescribing Providers: Suboxone can be prescribed by qualified healthcare providers, including addiction specialists, primary care physicians, and psychiatrists.
  • Treatment Assessment: The prescribing provider will assess the patient’s opioid dependence and treatment requirements before prescribing Suboxone.

Choosing the Right Treatment

Selecting the appropriate treatment for opioid addiction is a critical decision that should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider. Factors such as individual medical history, severity of opioid dependency, treatment goals, and lifestyle considerations should be taken into account.
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Factors to Consider in Treatment Selection

When choosing between Sublocade and Suboxone, it is essential to consider the following factors:
  • Previous Treatment History: Patients with a history of successful Suboxone treatment may opt to continue with it. In contrast, those seeking a more convenient monthly option may choose Sublocade.
  • Treatment Compliance: Individuals who struggle with daily medication adherence might find Sublocade’s monthly injection more suitable to ensure consistent treatment.
  • Financial Considerations: Patients should evaluate the long-term costs associated with each medication and determine which option fits their budget.
  • Accessibility: The availability of Sublocade and Suboxone in their respective regions should be considered to ensure access to the chosen treatment.
  • Medical Professional’s Recommendation: Seeking advice from an experienced healthcare provider specialized in opioid addiction treatment can be invaluable in making an informed decision.

Consulting a Healthcare Professional

As mentioned throughout this article, the decision between Sublocade and Suboxone is highly individualized. Consulting a qualified healthcare professional is crucial to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for each patient’s unique circumstances.

Choosing the Right Treatment Conclusion

  • Individualized Decision: The choice between Sublocade and Suboxone depends on individual needs, preferences, and treatment history.
  • Consulting Healthcare Provider: Seeking guidance from a qualified healthcare provider will ensure a well-informed decision.

FAQs – Sublocade vs. Suboxone

1. What is the primary difference between Sublocade and Suboxone?

Answer: The main difference lies in their administration. Sublocade is a monthly injectable medication, while Suboxone is taken sublingually as a tablet or film daily.

2. Are the active ingredients the same in both medications?

Answer: No, the active ingredient in Sublocade is buprenorphine, while Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone.

3. Which medication is more effective in managing opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings?

Answer: Both Sublocade and Suboxone are effective in treating opioid dependence. The choice of medication may depend on individual response and treatment history.

4. Can I switch from Suboxone to Sublocade or vice versa?

Answer: Yes, transitioning from one medication to the other can be considered. However, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional to ensure a safe and smooth transition.

5. Does Sublocade require more frequent clinic visits compared to Suboxone?

Answer: While Sublocade’s monthly injection may reduce the number of clinic visits, regular follow-ups with healthcare providers are essential for both medications to monitor progress and adjust treatment as needed.

6. Are there any specific medical conditions that may influence the choice between Sublocade and Suboxone?

Answer: Yes, certain medical conditions may affect treatment decisions. It is essential to discuss your medical history with a healthcare provider before starting either medication.

7. Can I take Sublocade or Suboxone during pregnancy?

Answer: Both medications may have potential risks during pregnancy, and their use should be carefully evaluated by a healthcare provider. Pregnant individuals should consult their doctor for guidance.

8. Are there any known drug interactions with Sublocade or Suboxone?

Answer: Both medications can interact with other drugs. It is crucial to inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, or substances you are taking to avoid potential interactions.

9. Is Sublocade covered by insurance?

Answer: The coverage of Sublocade by insurance plans may vary. Patients should check with their insurance provider to determine the extent of coverage.

10. Can I abruptly stop taking either medication?

Answer: Abruptly discontinuing either Sublocade or Suboxone can lead to withdrawal symptoms and a higher risk of relapse. It is essential to work with a healthcare provider to develop a safe tapering plan if stopping treatment is necessary.

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Neal Patel, Pharm.D. Neal

Neal Patel, Pharm.D. Neal

Dr. Neal Patel is a licensed pharmacist whose expertise is in developing engaging medical communication for a range of audiences, including patients and healthcare professionals. He has experience in community pharmacy and managed care, as well as research and development of therapeutics in ophthalmology, diabetes, and oncology.
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