The opioid epidemic has ravaged local communities and families both in Maryland and across the country. Fortunately, more treatment options are becoming accessible to those battling addiction.
One such option is an opiate-blocking shot. These shots deliver medication over a month at a controlled rate, making them a safe and promising form of treatment. When life-saving medicines, such as opiate-blocking shots, are paired with behavioral therapies and counseling, they reduce the risk of relapse and increase the likelihood of a sustained recovery.
To learn more about these shots to prevent opioid use, read on.
What is an Opiate-Blocking Shot?
Sublocade is a brand-name opiate-blocking shot. Buprenorphine is the generic ingredient available in the Sublocade opiate-blocking shot. Buprenorphine is also the active ingredient in Suboxone, the first opioid replacement therapy approved by the FDA since Methadone.
Buprenorphine was approved for clinical use by the FDA in 2002 and is an opioid partial agonist and antagonist which reduces symptoms of physical opioid dependence, like cravings and withdrawal. It has a reduced potential for misuse since it blocks the effects of other opioids and can only be effective when taken sublingually.
Sublocade is the newest way of administering buprenorphine. The buprenorphine is administered in an injection form by a medical provider. Over time, the medication is absorbed into your system over a month-long period. The buprenorphine is injected into the subcutaneous tissue in the lower abdomen (belly fat) and slowly releases into your system over the course of a month.
6 Must-Know Facts About Opiate Blocking Shots
The following are some of the most critical things to know about opiate-blocking shots like Sublocade.
Fact #1: Sublocade Is the First Once-Monthly Buprenorphine Product
Unlike other buprenorphine products like Suboxone, Sublocade is the first that you take once-a-month as an injection. This helps with what’s called “medical adherence” or “compliance.” It reduces the burden on the patient to take daily medicine.
This option is also a time-saving one since patients don’t have to visit a clinic frequently. Just one time a month is needed for sustained benefits and effects with Sublocade.
Fact #2: Before Taking Sublocade, Patients Should Already Have Taken Buprenorphine
With Sublocade specifically, the protocol requires that you take a stable dose of buprenorphine for at least seven days as a tablet or film that dissolves under your tongue. This is also known as transmucosal drug delivery.
After that, you may be eligible for Sublocade, which can help you maintain your recovery. Essentially, Sublocade is an extended-release version of buprenorphine.
Fact #3: Not Every Provider Can Administer a Shot to Prevent Opiate Use
Whether it’s Vivitrol or Sublocade, not every doctor or pharmacy can administer these shots. You may have to work with someone who specializes in medication assisted treatment, like MATClinics.
At MATClinics, our providers and case managers can work with your insurance company and provide what they need for approval.
Then, if your insurance company approves your Sublocade or another shot to prevent opioid use, MATClinics can order it from a specialty pharmacy and administer it when it arrives.
Fact #4: A Shot to Prevent Opiate Use Works with Counseling and Therapy
Taking a shot to prevent opiate use, like Sublocade, works well when combined with counseling and therapy.
The idea is that taking an opiate-blocking shot can help reduce your withdrawal symptoms and cravings so you can focus on your recovery.
There is less chance of relapse when you aren’t dealing with withdrawal and cravings.
Fact #5: Insurance Often Covers Opiate-Blocking Shots
If your health care provider advises you to take an opiate-blocking shot like Sublocade or Vivitrol, they are often covered by insurance. However, you may have to go through a pre-authorization period. The company that makes Sublocade offers a copay savings plan as well to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
Fact #6: Vivitrol Is In a Different Drug Class Than Sublocade
Vivitrol is another brand-name injectable medicine used to treat opioid use disorder and has a different active ingredient than Sublocade. Vivitrol is used to treat alcohol and opioid use dependence and prevent relapse.
Naltrexone, the active ingredient in Vivitrol, is classified as an opioid antagonist, while buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Sublocade, is a partial opioid agonist and antagonist. So Vivitrol does not occupy opioid receptors; instead, it blocks the opioid receptors to prevent the feeling of euphoria when using opioids. Sublocade, on the other hand, fills the opioid receptors to 40% capacity. Since the buprenorphine ingredient in Sublocade is a partial agonist and antagonist, it also has a blocking property to prevent feelings of euphoria when using opioids. In other words, if you were to use opioids while on Vivitrol or Sublocade, the effects would be blocked.
MATClinics Can Help You Find the Right Treatment Option
At MATClinics, we take a unique approach to treating opioid addiction. We specialize in matching you with the best medication for your treatment needs. No two people are the same, nor should their treatment plan be. That’s why we work with each patient to create an individualized treatment plan.
Certified counselors are available on our team, but you will work with your provider and case manager to come up with a treatment plan that works for you.
We encourage you to contact MATClinics today to learn more about opiate-blocking shots and other treatment options that might be right for you.