Buprenorphine, Opioid Use Disorder, Opioids, Sublocade, Suboxone



  1. Griffith, Patricia S. DNP, APRN, ANP-BC
  2. Brown, Lana M. PhD, RN, NEA-BC
  3. Lensing, Shelly Y. MS
  4. Nahata, Ravi MD
  5. Padala, Prasad R. MD, MS
  6. Snow, Lisa MD
  7. Milholland, Katherine MS, LCSW
  8. Mullins, Melinda MS, LCSW


Background: Substance use disorders are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, with opioid use disorder representing a growing public health concern and economic burden. Veterans within the Veterans Health Administration are impacted by opioid use disorder.


Significance: A common medication-assisted treatment is sublingual Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) used in combination with behavior modification therapy. Missed Suboxone doses may lead to withdrawal and potential drug diversion. Sublocade (buprenorphine extended-release) is an alternative once-monthly subcutaneous injection administered by a healthcare provider. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to examine the effects of Sublocade on cravings in veterans with opioid use disorder.


Methods: Veterans were considered for Sublocade monthly injections if they were enrolled in the Suboxone program, not taking Suboxone as prescribed, and disenrolled from the Suboxone program more than 2 times. Cravings were measured before and after Sublocade program enrollment.


Results: Fifteen veterans were enrolled in the Sublocade program over a 12-month timeframe. Most were male (93%) with a median (range) age of 42 (33-62) years. The following were the primary opioids used before enrollment in the substance use disorder program: hydrocodone (47%), oxycodone (20%), and heroin (20%). Sublocade significantly reduced cravings (p = .001). In this small group, cravings were fully eliminated.


Discussion: Recent studies have shown Sublocade effectively blocks the effects of other opioids and minimizes the risk of medication diversion that occurs with Suboxone. For these reasons, Sublocade is an alternative medication-assisted treatment for veterans with opioid use disorder.