Is Sublocade better than Suboxone? Find out the key differences and benefits!15 min read

Are you struggling with opioid use disorder and considering medication-assisted treatment? Two commonly prescribed medications are Sublocade and Suboxone. In this article, we will explore the differences between these medications and help you make an informed decision about which one might be better for your specific needs.

  • Effectiveness: We’ll compare the efficacy of Sublocade and Suboxone in treating opioid use disorder.
  • Administration and Dosage: Learn about the different methods of delivery and how often each medication needs to be taken.
  • Side Effects: Discover the common side effects of both medications and their potential impact on your well-being.
  • Addiction Potential: Explore the risks of dependence and withdrawal associated with Sublocade and Suboxone.
  • Cost and Insurance Coverage: Find out about the financial aspects and insurance coverage of these medications.
  • Convenience and Compliance: Understand the practical aspects of treatment, including doctor visits and adherence.


Sublocade and Suboxone are both effective medications for managing opioid use disorder, but they work differently. Sublocade contains buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist, while Suboxone combines buprenorphine with naloxone, an opioid antagonist. The effectiveness of these medications depends on various factors, such as the severity of the addiction, individual response to treatment, and the presence of co-occurring disorders.

Administration and Dosage

One significant difference between Sublocade and Suboxone lies in their administration methods and dosing frequencies. Sublocade is administered as a once-monthly injection, making it a suitable option for individuals who have difficulty remembering to take daily medication. On the other hand, Suboxone is a sublingual film or tablet taken once or twice daily, depending on the individual’s needs.


  • Injection: Sublocade is given as a small, subcutaneous injection by a healthcare provider.
  • Once Monthly: A single injection of Sublocade provides a month-long supply of medication.
  • Doctor’s Visit: You’ll need to visit your doctor monthly to receive the injection.


  • Sublingual Film: Suboxone comes in the form of a film that dissolves under the tongue.
  • Once or Twice Daily: Suboxone is typically taken once daily, but some individuals may require twice-daily dosing.
  • Prescription Refills: You’ll need to refill your prescription regularly to maintain a steady supply of Suboxone.

Side Effects

Sublocade and Suboxone may cause side effects, but their specific profiles differ. Common side effects of both medications include nausea, headache, and constipation. However, Sublocade’s extended-release nature might result in fewer fluctuations in drug levels and potentially fewer side effects related to peak concentrations. On the other hand, Suboxone’s sublingual administration may lead to a more rapid onset of action and a higher risk of side effects during induction. It is essential to discuss potential side effects with your healthcare provider to determine which medication is better suited for you.

Sublocade Side Effects

Sublocade’s most common side effects include:
– Nausea and vomiting
– Constipation
– Injection site reactions, such as pain, itching, or swelling
– Headache
– Fatigue or drowsiness

Suboxone Side Effects

Suboxone’s most common side effects include:
– Nausea and vomiting
– Headache
– Constipation
– Insomnia or sleep disturbances
– Sweating and dizziness

Sublocade Side Effects Management

  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated can help mitigate some side effects, especially constipation.
  • Topical Remedies: Applying a cold compress to the injection site can alleviate discomfort or swelling.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers may help manage headaches.

Suboxone Side Effects Management

  • Sublingual Administration Tips: Properly administering Suboxone under the tongue can reduce the risk of oral discomfort.
  • Medication Timing: Taking Suboxone at the same time each day can minimize potential side effects.
  • Consultation with Healthcare Provider: If side effects persist or become bothersome, discuss alternatives with your doctor.

Addiction Potential

The risk of dependence and withdrawal associated with Sublocade and Suboxone is an important consideration when choosing medication-assisted treatment. Both medications, being opioids themselves, carry the risk of physical dependence, but they also help reduce cravings and prevent withdrawal symptoms when taken as prescribed. It is crucial to use these medications as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral therapy.

Sublocade’s Addiction Potential

Sublocade’s formulation minimizes the potential for abuse, as it provides a continuous, steady release of buprenorphine over a month. This reduces the need for frequent dosing and decreases the risk of misuse.

Suboxone’s Addiction Potential

Suboxone’s combination of buprenorphine and naloxone deters misuse by causing withdrawal symptoms if the medication is taken intravenously or improperly.

Preventing Dependence

  • Strict Adherence: Taking the prescribed dose as directed by the healthcare provider reduces the risk of dependence.
  • Gradual Tapering: When discontinuing medication, a gradual tapering schedule can minimize withdrawal symptoms.
  • Supervision and Support: Participating in counseling and support groups can help address psychological dependence.

Cost and Insurance Coverage

The cost of Sublocade and Suboxone can vary depending on factors such as location, dosage, and insurance coverage. Sublocade, being a monthly injection, may have a higher upfront cost compared to Suboxone, which is taken more frequently. However, Sublocade’s longer duration between doses may result in overall cost savings in some cases.

Comparing the Price of Sublocade and Suboxone

The cost of Sublocade typically includes the medication itself, the administration procedure, and the doctor’s visit for the injection. On the other hand, Suboxone is priced per prescription, and additional costs may apply for doctor visits and other medical services.

Availability and Insurance Coverage

Both Sublocade and Suboxone are commonly covered by health insurance plans. However, specific coverage details may vary depending on the insurance provider and the type of plan. It is crucial to check with your insurance company to understand your out-of-pocket expenses and any prior authorization requirements.

Minimizing Out-of-Pocket Costs

  • Generic Suboxone: Opting for generic Suboxone can be more cost-effective than the brand-name version.
  • Insurance Research: Compare insurance plans to find the one that offers the best coverage for your medication needs.
  • Manufacturer Assistance Programs: Some pharmaceutical companies offer financial assistance programs for eligible patients.

Convenience and Compliance

Convenience and compliance play a crucial role in the success of medication-assisted treatment. Sublocade’s once-monthly injection can be more convenient for individuals who struggle with adherence to daily medication. On the other hand, Suboxone’s sublingual administration may be preferred by those who are comfortable with self-administration.

Frequency of Doctor Visits

Sublocade’s monthly injection reduces the number of required doctor visits compared to Suboxone, which may need to be taken daily or every other day. However, regular doctor visits are still necessary to monitor progress and address any concerns.

Adherence to Treatment Plans

Adherence to a treatment plan is crucial for successful recovery. Sublocade’s extended-release nature removes the need for daily dosing, potentially improving adherence. Suboxone, while requiring more frequent dosing, may allow for more flexibility in adjusting the dosage as needed.

Tips for Improving Adherence

  • Set Reminders: Use alarms or smartphone apps to remind you to take your medication as prescribed.
  • Keep a Medication Journal: Track your medication intake to ensure consistency and identify any patterns or concerns.
  • Communicate with Your Doctor: Discuss any challenges you face with adherence to find a solution that works for you.

Patient Preferences

Patient preferences and experiences can influence treatment choices. Some individuals may have a preference for Sublocade due to its convenience, while others may feel more comfortable with Suboxone’s familiar administration method.

Feedback from Patients on Sublocade

Patients who prefer Sublocade often appreciate the reduced frequency of medication administration and the consistent drug levels provided by the monthly injection. Some individuals may find it easier to stick to their treatment plan with Sublocade.

Feedback from Patients on Suboxone

Patients who prefer Suboxone might like the flexibility it offers, allowing them to adjust their dosage as needed under medical supervision. Some individuals may also prefer the familiarity of taking medication orally.

Considering Individual Preferences

  • Talk to Your Doctor: Share your preferences and concerns with your healthcare provider to find the best fit for your needs.
  • Trial Period: Consider trying one medication for a defined period and assess its effectiveness and suitability for you.
  • Support from Peers: Seek support from individuals who have experience with either medication to gain insights into their experiences.

Physician Recommendations

Medical professionals play a vital role in guiding patients towards the most suitable medication. Physician recommendations are often based on the patient’s medical history, individual needs, and treatment goals.

Expert Opinions on Sublocade

Some medical professionals may recommend Sublocade for patients who have a history of non-adherence to daily medications or those looking for a more convenient treatment option. They may also consider Sublocade for patients who require a longer duration of action.

Expert Opinions on Suboxone

Suboxone is widely used and recommended for its efficacy in treating opioid use disorder. Physicians may suggest Suboxone for patients who are comfortable with sublingual administration and require a more flexible dosing schedule.

Choosing the Right Medication

  • Open Communication: Discuss your medical history and treatment preferences with your doctor to receive personalized recommendations.
  • Understanding the Rationale: Ask your doctor to explain the reasoning behind their recommendation to make an informed decision.
  • Second Opinion: If uncertain, seek a second opinion from another qualified healthcare provider.


While both Sublocade and Suboxone are effective medications for treating opioid use disorder, they have distinct characteristics that may make one more suitable for certain individuals than the other. Sublocade’s once-monthly injection offers convenience and consistent drug levels, potentially benefiting those with adherence challenges. On the other hand, Suboxone’s sublingual administration allows for flexibility in dosing and may be preferred by individuals comfortable with daily medication.
It is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider to determine which medication aligns best with your unique medical history, preferences, and treatment goals. Remember that medication-assisted treatment should always be part of a comprehensive approach that includes counseling, therapy, and support.

While we have covered important aspects of both medications, please consult with your healthcare provider to make an informed decision about your treatment.

Consideration for Co-Occurring Disorders

When choosing between Sublocade and Suboxone, it is essential to consider the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders. Some individuals with opioid use disorder may also have conditions such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Healthcare providers may take these co-occurring disorders into account when recommending medication, as certain medications may be more appropriate for addressing both conditions simultaneously.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders with Sublocade

Sublocade’s long-acting buprenorphine formulation can be beneficial for individuals with co-occurring disorders, as it provides consistent relief from opioid cravings, allowing for a focus on managing mental health symptoms.

Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders with Suboxone

Suboxone, with its combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, can also be effective in addressing both opioid use disorder and co-occurring mental health conditions.

Integrating Comprehensive Treatment

  • Collaborative Care: An integrated treatment approach involving mental health and addiction specialists can improve overall outcomes.
  • Medication Adjustments: Healthcare providers may adjust the medication plan based on the individual’s response and needs.
  • Therapy and Counseling: Combining medication with therapy can provide holistic support for co-occurring disorders.

Long-Term Treatment Considerations

Long-term treatment is crucial for sustaining recovery and preventing relapse. When comparing Sublocade and Suboxone, consider factors such as medication adherence, effectiveness over time, and the potential for prolonged use.

Sublocade for Long-Term Treatment

Sublocade’s extended-release formulation may be advantageous for individuals seeking a longer duration of action and reduced dosing frequency in the long term.

Suboxone for Long-Term Treatment

Suboxone has a proven track record as a long-term treatment option, and many individuals have successfully maintained recovery with this medication for extended periods.

Creating a Long-Term Plan

  • Individualized Approach: Work with your healthcare provider to develop a personalized long-term treatment plan.
  • Regular Check-Ins: Periodic evaluations with your healthcare provider can ensure treatment effectiveness and make any necessary adjustments.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Incorporate healthy habits and a support network to enhance long-term recovery.

Potential Interactions with Other Medications

It is essential to consider potential drug interactions when using Sublocade or Suboxone alongside other medications. Inform your healthcare provider about all medications, supplements, or herbal remedies you are taking to ensure safety and avoid adverse effects.

Sublocade’s Potential Interactions

As Sublocade contains buprenorphine, it may interact with other medications that affect the central nervous system, such as benzodiazepines or certain antidepressants.

Suboxone’s Potential Interactions

Suboxone’s combination of buprenorphine and naloxone may interact with other medications, particularly those that act on opioid receptors.

Communicating with Your Healthcare Provider

  • Full Medication List: Provide your healthcare provider with a comprehensive list of all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter and herbal products.
  • Monitoring and Adjustments: Your healthcare provider can monitor for potential interactions and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.
  • Pharmacist Consultation: Consult with your pharmacist if you have any concerns about potential interactions.

Special Considerations for Pregnancy

Pregnant individuals with opioid use disorder require specialized care. Healthcare providers will assess the risks and benefits of medication-assisted treatment during pregnancy and may adjust the treatment plan accordingly.

Sublocade during Pregnancy

Limited data is available on the safety of Sublocade during pregnancy. Healthcare providers may consider alternative treatment options for pregnant individuals.

Suboxone during Pregnancy

Suboxone has been studied more extensively during pregnancy, and it may be considered when the benefits outweigh the risks.

Individualized Pregnancy Care

  • Medical Guidance: Work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for managing opioid use disorder during pregnancy.
  • Medical Monitoring: Regular prenatal check-ups can help monitor the well-being of both the pregnant individual and the developing baby.
  • Support and Counseling: Emotional support and counseling can be beneficial during pregnancy to address any concerns or challenges.

Availability and Access to Treatment

The availability of Sublocade and Suboxone can vary based on geographic location and healthcare facilities. Access to treatment may also be influenced by insurance coverage and financial considerations.

Sublocade’s Availability and Access

Sublocade may be available in specialized addiction treatment centers or clinics that offer extended-release buprenorphine formulations.

Suboxone’s Availability and Access

Suboxone is widely available in various healthcare settings, including doctors’ offices, clinics, and pharmacies.

Ensuring Access to Treatment

  • Insurance Inquiries: Contact your insurance provider to understand coverage options for both medications.
  • Treatment Facilities: Explore local addiction treatment centers or clinics that offer medication-assisted treatment options.
  • Financial Assistance: Inquire about patient assistance programs or other resources to reduce medication costs.

Consulting Addiction Specialists

Addiction specialists and healthcare providers experienced in treating opioid use disorder can provide valuable insights and personalized recommendations.

Benefits of Addiction Specialists

Addiction specialists possess in-depth knowledge and experience in treating substance use disorders, allowing them to provide specialized care.

Multidisciplinary Approach

Treatment for opioid use disorder is most effective when delivered by a team of healthcare professionals, including addiction specialists, therapists, and support staff.

Building a Support Network

  • Seeking Referrals: Ask your primary care provider for referrals to addiction specialists in your area.
  • Peer Support: Connect with support groups or peer networks to learn from others who have experienced similar challenges.
  • Follow Recommended Care: Adhere to the treatment plan recommended by your healthcare providers, including attending regular appointments and therapy sessions.


Choosing between Sublocade and Suboxone is a complex decision that should be made with the guidance of healthcare professionals. Consider factors such as effectiveness, side effects, cost, convenience, and personal preferences. It is crucial to consult with addiction specialists and healthcare providers to develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and promotes a

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is Sublocade better than Suboxone for managing opioid use disorder?

Answer: The effectiveness of Sublocade and Suboxone depends on individual needs and preferences. Sublocade’s once-monthly injection offers convenience, while Suboxone allows for more flexible dosing. Consulting with a healthcare provider can help determine which medication is better suited for you.

2. What are the potential side effects of Sublocade?

Answer: Common side effects of Sublocade include nausea, constipation, headache, and injection site reactions. It is essential to report any adverse effects to your healthcare provider promptly.

3. Can Suboxone be abused like other opioids?

Answer: Suboxone’s combination of buprenorphine and naloxone reduces the potential for abuse when taken as prescribed. However, it is still essential to follow the prescribed dosage and not misuse the medication.

4. How often do I need to take Suboxone?

Answer: Suboxone is typically taken once daily, but some individuals may require twice-daily dosing. Your healthcare provider will determine the appropriate dosing frequency based on your individual needs.

5. Is it safe to use Sublocade during pregnancy?

Answer: There is limited data on the safety of Sublocade during pregnancy. Pregnant individuals with opioid use disorder should discuss potential risks and benefits with their healthcare provider to explore alternative treatment options.

6. Can I switch from Suboxone to Sublocade or vice versa during treatment?

Answer: Transitioning between medications should be under the guidance of a healthcare provider. They can help you safely switch medications and adjust the dosage accordingly.

7. Does insurance cover Sublocade and Suboxone?

Answer: Both Sublocade and Suboxone are commonly covered by insurance plans. However, coverage may vary depending on your specific insurance provider and plan.

8. What should I do if I miss a dose of Sublocade?

Answer: If you miss a scheduled injection of Sublocade, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible to reschedule. It is essential to stick to your treatment plan to ensure optimal results.

9. Can I drink alcohol while taking Suboxone or Sublocade?

Answer: It is generally not recommended to consume alcohol while taking medication for opioid use disorder. Alcohol can interact with the medications and increase the risk of adverse effects.

10. How long should I stay on Sublocade or Suboxone for treatment?

Answer: The duration of treatment varies depending on individual needs and progress. Your healthcare provider will work with you to create a long-term treatment plan tailored to your recovery journey.