Suboxone® vs. Sublocade®

Discover the differences between Suboxone and Sublocade for opioid addiction treatment. Learn about their composition, forms, side effects, and more.

Ophelia team
Suboxone vs Sublocade
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Fact checked by
Nicole Martin, NP

Medications for addiction treatment (MAT) are tools that can effectively reduce overdose risk and improve the lives of people dealing with opioid use disorder (OUD). These medications include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, all three of which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat OUD

Patients considering MAT for OUD have several different options when it comes to the prescription MAT medications they take. Suboxone and Sublocade are two of the most common, so it's worth understanding the differences between these drugs and which might be a better fit for your needs. 

What is Sublocade?

Sublocade is a prescription medication used to treat opioid dependency and addiction in those dealing with OUD. Sublocade's principal active ingredient is buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist. Buprenorphine binds to the opioid receptors in the brain but does not activate them to the same extent as a full opioid agonist like heroin or oxycodone. These other, more harmful opioids cannot attach to the opioid receptors when buprenorphine is already there. Thus, buprenorphine effectively reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms when the patient takes the correct dose for the right amount of time. 

Other medications containing buprenorphine are available as tablets and sublingual films, but Sublocade is only available as an injection. A medical professional must administer the Sublocade shot to the patient in a controlled setting. Sublocade is not legally available outside of these supervised settings. 

Sublocade side effects 

Taking Sublocate is not without risks. Patients using Sublocade may experience side effects, including the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Redness and itchiness at the injection site

More severe side effects are also possible for people using Sublocade. Look out for serious side effects like:

  • Severe stomach or abdominal pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Severe drowsiness, incoordination, or trouble waking
  • Mental changes such as hallucinations, confusion, or difficulty thinking clearly

If you experience any strong side effects while taking Sublocade, contact your healthcare provider right away. Your care team may be able to adjust your medication to alleviate these symptoms. 

Sublocade vs. Suboxone

Sublocade and Suboxone are similar in that they are both medications for addiction treatment. However, there are some critical differences between these two drugs. 

MAT for OUD: Suboxone vs. Sublocade medication comparison


Sublocade only contains buprenorphine as an active ingredient, while Suboxone contains both buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it binds to opioid receptors in the brain and does not activate them. Opioid antagonists prevent opioid agonists, like morphine and fentanyl, from activating these receptors, blocking their effects. 

The presence of naloxone in Suboxone reduces the risk of misuse because it is an opioid antagonist. Because patients can only receive Sublocade shots from a healthcare professional in a controlled environment, naloxone is unnecessary in Sublocade. 


Suboxone is also available in different forms to Sublocade. Patients can receive Sublocade injections once a month or take Suboxone as a sublingual film or tablet daily. Sublocade is a slow-release medication that turns into a solid (called a depot) under the injection site and slowly makes its way into the body over thirty days. By contrast, Suboxone is a fast-acting medication that patients typically take once per day sublingually. 

Potential side effects

Both drugs have similar potential side effects, though Sublocade has some more because it is an injection. Irritation, itchiness, and pain at the injection site are possible concerns with Sublocade that do not occur with Suboxone. 


Cost may be a key consideration for patients deciding between Sublocade and Suboxone to treat OUD. The patient's out-of-pocket costs for either of these medications will depend on their health insurance coverage. Both Sublocade and Suboxone are brand names, but Suboxone has a generic version, and Sublocade does not. Using the generic form of Suboxone may be a way to save on MAT costs if your medical providers approve of this treatment plan. 

Explore your OUD treatment options with Ophelia

People dealing with OUD have more treatment options than they may realize. Both Suboxone and Sublocade are effective, FDA-approved medications for treating opioid use disorder, and you may be able to receive them from the comfort of your home.

Ophelia offers online opioid addiction treatment, prescribing medications for addiction treatment to patients across the United States. Once you're enrolled, your care team will develop a personalized treatment plan and send a Suboxone prescription to your local pharmacy if Suboxone is the right choice for you. Your team will also be available 7 days a week to support you on your treatment journey. Find out if you're a candidate to get started today.  


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