The medications traditionally used in harm reduction or medication-assisted treatment programs for opiod addiction are Suboxone, Subutex & Sublocade. Suboxone is really made up of two medications with the main med being Buprenorphine. It is a long-lasting opiate. Now why would you take someone off of opiates and put them on more opiates? Well, Buprenorphine attaches to those opioid receptor sites in such a way that makes it very difficult to overdose. Consequently, it increases safety for anyone addicted to opioids or heroin. Another thing is, since suboxone has a tiny bit of naloxone, which is an opioid blocker, it adds a bit more of a safety net. Thus, adding protection for overdose and decreasing the ability for someone to abuse the medication.
Subutex is Suboxone without the Naloxone. That means it’s just the long-lasting opioid. You might ask yourself, ‘why would someone want to take it if doesn’t have the blocker?’ There are certain reasons why some people might want to do that. If someone is pregnant, if someone has a chronic pain issue, there are some specific medical reasons and there are some specific clinical reasons why a person might want to take Subutex versus Suboxone. One practical reason is it’s quite a bit less expensive because naloxone can be expensive. Suboxone is Buprenorphine + Naloxone. Subutex is pretty much just Buprenorphine.
There’s also something called Sublocade. Sublocade is Suboxone that is given in a once a month injection. Why would you want to ease off opioid addiction that way? Well, because it takes a lot of the addictive type behavior off the table, such as taking a medication every day or thinking, ‘maybe I’ll take a little extra today.’ It may help prevent someone from trying to take more when they’re having a rough day. It therefore also keeps people from running out of their prescription too early and several other types of things that can cause complications in the process.
So basically, you have three different ways of administering Buprenorphine, which is the main ingredient in all of these medications. If you’re considering this route, you may want to consider a couple things, like is medication-assisted treatment right for me in general? In order to make that decision you may want to consult with a treatment provider or someone who has successfully been treated for addiction in this manner and have a list of questions or concerns ready. If you do decide that medication-assisted treatment is the way to go, then you may also want to consider which one of these options might be the best choice for you. This is when you would want to talk specifically to an addiction treatment professional.