Sublocade (buprenorphine) is a prescription brand-name medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it to treat opioid use disorder in adults, as part of a complete treatment program.

Sublocade comes as a liquid solution that’s given by subcutaneous injection. It contains the active drug buprenorphine, which belongs to a class of drugs called partial opioid agonists. (A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.) Sublocade is available only as a brand-name drug.

For information on the dosage of Sublocade, including its strengths and how to take the drug, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Sublocade, see this article.

Sublocade is used as part of a treatment program to treat opioid use disorder. It contains the active drug buprenorphine. Below is information on typical dosages.

Before you start receiving Sublocade, you first need to take oral* buprenorphine (Suboxone). This is called induction treatment. You’ll need to have induction treatment for at least 7 days before your first Sublocade injection.

* Oral means taken by mouth.

Sublocade form

Sublocade comes as a liquid solution in a prefilled syringe. It’s given by a healthcare provider as a subcutaneous injection.

Sublocade strengths

Sublocade is available in two strengths:

  • 100 milligrams/0.5 milliliters (mg/mL)
  • 300 mg/1.5 mL

Typical dosages

Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. Then, they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

The recommended dosage of Sublocade for treating opioid use disorder is:

  • 300 mg per month for the first two doses, and then
  • 100 mg per month (this is referred to as your maintenance dosage)

Based on how effective the drug is for you and the severity of any side effects you have, your doctor may increase your maintenance dosage to 300 mg per month. But this shouldn’t affect how often Sublocade is given.

Your doctor or healthcare provider will give your injections in a clinic or a doctor’s office. Sublocade injections can’t be self-administered. If you have questions about your dosing schedule, talk with your doctor.

As part of a treatment program for opioid use disorder, Sublocade is typically used with mental health services such as counseling.

Long-term use

Sublocade is meant to be used as a long-term treatment, though this may vary by individual. If you and your doctor determine that Sublocade is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term. You and your doctor will decide together when to end your Sublocade treatment.

The Sublocade dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on the severity of your condition and how your body responds to the drug.

Sublocade’s typical maintenance dosage is 100 milligrams (mg) per month. Based on how your body responds to the drug, your doctor may increase this to 300 mg per month. This may depend on how severe your condition is, any side effects you experience from Sublocade, and other factors.

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about Sublocade.

Can Sublocade make you feel ‘high’?

No, Sublocade shouldn’t make you feel “high.”

Sublocade works to stop or reduce opioid cravings and help prevent withdrawal symptoms. It’s a type of drug called a partial opioid agonist. This means that it stimulates opioid receptors (docking stations in the brain), but not as strongly as a full opioid agonist, such as morphine or heroin.

Sublocade doesn’t produce the same “high” feeling as some other drugs that are used to treat opioid use disorder. And if you take other opioid drugs during your treatment with Sublocade, these drugs may not produce a “high” feeling either.

If you have questions about how Sublocade may affect you, talk with your doctor.

What are the injection instructions for Sublocade?

Sublocade injections can only be given by a certified healthcare provider. The drug can’t be self-administered. This is because the risks from improper injection of Sublocade can be life threatening.

Specifically, Sublocade has a boxed warning* for risk of serious harm or death if given by intravenous injection. The drug is approved to be given only as a subcutaneous injection.

For more information about injection instructions, please see the “How Sublocade is administered” section just below.

* A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. See “Boxed warning” at the beginning of this article for more information.

What is the dosage of Sublocade vs. Suboxone?

Sublocade is approved to treat opioid use disorder. And Suboxone is used to treat opioid dependence, which is another name for opioid use disorder. Both drugs are used as part of a complete treatment plan that includes mental health services such as counseling.

Sublocade contains the active drug buprenorphine. It’s given as a subcutaneous injection. The maintenance dosage of Sublocade is either 100 milligrams (mg) per month or 300 mg per month. Your dosage depends on how your body responds to the drug, as well as other factors. Sublocade is available in two strengths:

  • 100 mg/0.5 milliliters (mg/mL)
  • 300 mg/1.5 mL

Suboxone contains two active drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. It comes as an oral film that’s taken by letting it dissolve in your mouth and then swallowing it. The film may be dissolved sublingually (under your tongue) or buccally (between the cheek and gums of your mouth). Suboxone is taken once a day, and it’s available in the following strengths:

  • 2 mg buprenorphine/0.5 mg naloxone
  • 4 mg buprenorphine/1 mg naloxone
  • 8 mg buprenorphine/2 mg naloxone
  • 12 mg buprenorphine/3 mg naloxone

If you have questions about how Sublocade compares with Suboxone for opioid use disorder treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Sublocade is given by subcutaneous injection, which is an injection under your skin. Injections are given into the abdomen (belly). A different area of the abdomen will be used for each injection.

Sublocade can only be administered by a certified healthcare provider. You can’t give injections to yourself. This is because the drug can cause life threatening side effects if it’s given by intravenous injection.

After a Sublocade injection, a lump may develop around the injection area. This isn’t unusual, as Sublocade forms a solid mass after injection, when it comes into contact with your body fluids. Over time, this lump will shrink as the drug is released into your body. During this time, it’s important that you:

  • don’t massage or rub the lump or the injection area
  • don’t pick at or try to remove the lump
  • avoid rubbing or irritating the lump, such as by wearing tight clothing around your waist

If you have questions or concerns about a lump around your injection site, talk with your doctor.

Boxed warning

Sublocade has a boxed warning about risk of serious harm or death if the drug is given by intravenous injection. This is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. To learn more, refer to the Sublocade label information. You can also talk with your doctor.

If there’s too much Sublocade in your body, you may develop serious side effects. The drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be administered only by healthcare providers. When the drug is given this way, your risk for an increased level of Sublocade is low. But in clinical trials, some people self-injected buprenorphine (the active drug in Sublocade). Doing so may increase your risk for serious side effects from the drug.

Symptoms of an overdose

Overdose symptoms of Sublocade can include:

  • low blood pressure
  • respiratory depression (slowed or weak breathing)
  • unusually small pupils, which may be referred to as pinpoint pupils
  • sedation (feeling drowsy and less alert)
  • death, in rare cases

If you take more than the recommended amount of Sublocade

Talk with your doctor right away if you believe that you’ve taken too much Sublocade. Another option is to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

If you miss a Sublocade injection appointment, talk with your doctor right away. You should have the injection as soon as possible. If more than 2 weeks pass after missing an injection, you may experience withdrawal. Withdrawal means experiencing unpleasant symptoms when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent upon. Withdrawal symptoms caused by stopping Sublocade may include:

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or timer on your phone or downloading a reminder app.

The active drug in Sublocade, buprenorphine, is a Schedule III controlled substance. This means that the drug has potential for misuse and can cause dependence. Misuse refers to using a drug for non-medical reasons or in a way that’s not approved. And with dependence, your body needs the drug in order for you to feel normal.

Due to the risk of misuse and dependence, Sublocade is prescribed through a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program. This means that only a certified healthcare provider can administer the drug. And clinics or offices where Sublocade is given must also be REMS-certified.

Additionally, Sublocade can only be given as a subcutaneous injection. Misusing Sublocade by injecting it intravenously can lead to blood clots that can be life threatening. In fact, Sublocade has a boxed warning for risk of serious harm or death if the drug is given by intravenous injection.*

For more information about the Sublocade REMS program, talk with your doctor. You may also call 866-258-3905 or visit the Sublocade REMS website.

* A boxed warning is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. See “Boxed warning” at the beginning of this article for more information.

Sublocade can cause dependence. With dependence, your body needs the drug in order for you to feel normal.

Because Sublocade can cause dependence, it can also cause withdrawal. Withdrawal means experiencing unpleasant symptoms when you stop taking a drug that your body has become dependent upon. Withdrawal symptoms may not develop until a few weeks or months after your last Sublocade injection.

If you and your doctor agree that it’s time for you to stop treatment with Sublocade, you should be monitored for withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include:

It’s important that your doctor continues to monitor you for several weeks after your last dose of Sublocade, or even for up to a few months.

Talk with your doctor if you develop any withdrawal symptoms while taking Sublocade or after stopping treatment. They may recommend treatments that could ease your symptoms.

The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Sublocade for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. If you have questions about the dosage of Sublocade that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.

Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Sublocade. These additional articles might be helpful to you:

  • More about Sublocade. For information about other aspects of Sublocade, refer to this article.
  • Side effects. To learn about side effects of Sublocade, see this article. You can also look at the Sublocade medication guide.