SUBLOCADE is a medication used to treat opioid use disorder by continuously releasing buprenorphine into the brain all month. It blocks the rewarding effects of opioids that can encourage someone to continue to use them. When the buprenorphine attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain, it is less likely for other opioids to attach. 

SUBLOCADE is not available for purchase over-the-counter and can only be administered by a certified healthcare professional. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs combine medications, such as SUBLOCADE,  with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorder. MAT has been shown to be highly effective in treating substance use disorder and maintaining recovery. 

Crescent Moon Recovery is a luxury rehab center for addiction treatment in Southern California, just blocks away from the beach. When participants come to our center, they meet with an experienced, professional, and compassionate team of staff. Our evidence-based approach and holistic services give participants a whole experience of treatment options. One of these treatment options is a medication-assisted treatment plan using SUBLOCADE

How Sublocade Is Administered

SUBLOCADE is injected by a healthcare professional as a liquid and after it enters the body it turns into a solid gel called a depot. This depot then gradually releases buprenorphine at a sustained level all month. A study of buprenorphine levels found that, in 12 weeks, SUBLOCADE was able to block the rewarding effects in 39 non-treatment-seeking adults. 

Participants who receive SUBLOCADE don’t experience any real ups or downs and are 14 times more likely to achieve treatment success. 


Buprenorphine is the medication in SUBLOCADE that works in the brain the treat opioid disorder. It is known as a partial opioid agonist in that it works like an opioid but has a ceiling effect. As such, buprenorphine has a much weaker effect on the participant and reduces the cravings for opioid use while also decreasing the effects of the withdrawal symptoms. 

Participants who begin taking SUBLOCADE will have to detox from an opioid for at least 12 to 24 hours before they start medication. Once a participant is stabilized and not experiencing cravings and little side effects the medication may be adjusted from daily to alternate-day use. 

Side Effects of Buprenorphine

When a participant begins treatment with SUBLOCADE, there are some common side effects with buprenorphine which include: 

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation, nausea, vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Muscle Aches

To learn more about the common and major side effects of buprenorphine, consult your licensed medical professional. 

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Understanding Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid use disorder is a serious epidemic in the United States and has impacted millions of lives. According to a recent study, opioid use disorders affect over 2.1 million people in the United States and 16 million people worldwide.

In 2019, nearly 50,000 people died from opioid-involved overdoses in the U.S. It has become a public health crisis and is an economic burden costing the United States $75.8 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The impact of opioid misuse has affected costs of healthcare, loss of productivity, and addiction treatment. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), opioid use disorder is defined as a desire to obtain and use opioids despite negative social and professional consequences. Examples of opioids include fentanyl, morphine, heroin, codeine, and synthetic opioids such as oxycodone. 

When a participant is struggling with opioid use disorder, they often experience an overpowering desire to use opioids despite health or circumstantial concerns.

Definition of Opioids

Opioids are substances that act on the opioid receptors and are naturally found in poppy plants and have been used by clinicians as prescriptions to reduce pain and relax the body. Some prescription opioids are made from the poppy plant while others are made by scientists in a laboratory. Opioids have also been found to treat coughing and diarrhea. 

How Opioids Affect the Brain

Opioids attach to and activate opioid receptors on cells located in various parts of the body including the brain, spinal cord, and other organs, particularly those that trigger feelings of pleasure and pain. Once they attach to the receptors, they work to block pain signals from the brain to the body while releasing large amounts of dopamine. This large release of dopamine is what causes a participant to crave the opioid and use it again.

Diagnostic Criteria for Opioid Use Disorder

When a participant enters treatment for opioid use disorder, they meet with their clinical care team to determine first if they meet the criteria for it. This can be found in the DSM-5, which states that at least two of the following criteria must be observed within a 12-month period to confirm an opioid use disorder diagnosis: 

  • Opioid use has increased to larger amounts and continued longer than intended
  • Persistent desire to use opioids
  • Unsuccessful efforts to control or decrease opioid use
  • Significant time spent trying to obtain, use, and recover from it
  • Work, home, personal life are greatly affected by the use of opioids
  • Continuing to use opioids in risky and unsafe situations
  • Displaying tolerance for opioid use
  • Showing withdrawal symptoms

Those who receive proper treatment, medication assistance, and counseling are able to recover from opioid use disorder successfully. 

Withdrawal Symptoms of Opioid Use Disorder

According to the DSM-5, common withdrawal symptoms after persistent and chronic use of opioids include: 

  • Dysphoric mood
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea

These symptoms typically develop within minutes to days after stopping the use of opioids. Withdrawal symptoms can last days but emotional withdrawal can last months. A person may show signs of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and sometimes thoughts of death after stopping opioid use when they are in treatment and recovering. 

Risks Associated With Opioid Use

While prescription opioids do have benefits for helping to reduce and manage pain, there are many risks associated when a person continues to use opioids for a long period of time or at high dosages. These risks include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Mental fog
  • Drowsiness
  • Slowed breathing

If a person experiences slowed breathing, this can be a potential sign of an overdose and would require medical attention immediately. 

Treating Opioid Use Disorder

When a person comes to Crescent Moon Recovery for treatment for opioid use disorder, we offer a wide variety of evidence-based therapies and medication-assisted treatment. Therapies proven to help with recovery from opioid use disorder include: 

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Group therapy
  • Self-help programs such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has been used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and is also used to treat substance use disorders and addiction. CBT teaches the participant how to identify and reframe negative or inaccurate thoughts to help them learn how to overcome opioid use disorder. Unlike other psychotherapies, CBT doesn’t focus on addressing past experiences; rather the focus is on finding practical solutions to current issues. 

Self-Help groups

There are many benefits to a participant joining self-help groups while in treatment for opioid use disorder. Peer support groups are defined as the process of giving and receiving support from other participants who are undergoing a similar treatment or are experiencing similar health conditions. There has been an increase in peer-support groups to assist in recovery from substance use disorder. Peer support groups have many approaches and have been a key component to addiction treatment for participants at Crescent Moon Recovery. These approaches can include: 

  • Community-reinforcement approach
  • Therapeutic communities
  • 12-Step programs

Recovery is a process in which a participant starts to change their lives by improving their health and well-being by living self-directed lives and striving to reach their full potential while maintaining their recovery.

12-Step Groups

The most well-known 12-Step groups for addiction treatment and recovery are Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These 12-Step groups focus on sustained recovery from addiction, as well as some co-occurring mental health disorders. Research has shown participants who attend 12-Step groups and are active in the program report reductions in alcohol and drug use.  Participants who engage and practice the 12-Step philosophy have shown positive outcomes in healthy coping and self-efficacy.  

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a treatment process in which a participant receives medication for treating a substance use disorder, in addition to counseling and behavioral therapy. This type of treatment is commonly used to treat opioid use disorder by using medications such as SUBLOCADE. Research has shown that MAT can produce great benefits and positive results in sustaining recovery for participants. MAT is primarily used to treat opioid use disorders by using medication to normalize brain chemistry and body functions and relieve physiological cravings for opioids.

Group Therapy

Group therapy has been shown to be a therapeutic tool for treating substance abuse because it reduces isolation and allows peers to witness and relate to each other's journeys and stories. It also can help with coping with depression, isolation, and shame. Groups can help a participant grow and learn new healthy coping tools while also learning how to express themselves in a safe space. Participants who engage in group therapy can also learn new social skills, tools on how to communicate more effectively, and what stressors can trigger the desire to use substances. The benefits of group therapy can help a participant focus on recovery by having a strong circle of support to turn to, a sense of belonging, and a safety network of people who understand the journey of recovering from addiction.

SUBLOCADE Aftercare Services

At Crescent Moon Recovery, participants being treated with SUBLOCADE will also receive counseling and therapy services. Every participant using SUBLOCADE will be monitored by a healthcare professional in terms of progress, treatment, and how long they will need to use the medication.

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