If you’re taking Suboxone for opioid addiction and worry about taking a drug test at work, fear not—more likely than not, you won’t test positive. That’s because it only typically shows up on drug tests that specifically test for buprenorphine, naloxone, or both. Still, you may be wondering, “How long does Suboxone stay in your system?”
The answer isn’t that simple, as it depends on various factors.
So, keep reading to learn which factors determine how long Suboxone stays in your system, how long it can be detected in different drug tests, and more.
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is an FDA-approved prescription opioid medication used for the treatment of opioid addiction. As a combination drug, it comes in the form of a sublingual film or a sublingual tablet containing:
- Buprenorphine (80%), a semi-synthetic derivative of thebaine that acts as a partial opioid agonist and is used to treat moderate-to-severe pain or opioid use disorder (OUD)
- Naloxone (20%), an opioid antagonist that can block the effects of other opioids and reverse an opioid overdose if administered promptly
Besides Suboxone, this combination drug is also marketed and sold under the brand names Cassipa and Zubsolv. You can also buy it as a generic drug.
Suboxone is typically prescribed as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which combines opioid replacement drugs with counseling and behavioral therapy. When taken as intended, it can help people addicted to opioids like hydrocodone or heroin manage withdrawal symptoms and wean off these drugs.
However, those with a low tolerance to opioids—and especially opioid-naïve individuals—should never take this drug due to an increased risk of a Suboxone overdose. For this reason, this medication is only prescribed to those with a high tolerance to opioids.
How Does Suboxone Affect the Body?
Suboxone affects the body by slowly releasing buprenorphine into the system, which helps relieve cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms. It usually starts to act within 20–45 minutes after consumption. Its effects typically peak around 3 hours following ingestion and may last 24–72 hours.
Once dissolved under the tongue, Suboxone interacts with the same opioid receptors located in the central nervous system (CNS) as other opioids. Unlike full opioid agonists, such as oxycodone, however, it doesn’t fully activate these receptors, creating a “ceiling effect.” This helps prevent opioid abuse, as taking more Suboxone won’t enhance its effects beyond a certain point.
Quite the contrary—attempting to abuse this medication by taking larger doses of it than prescribed can trigger naloxone release. Therefore, rather than making you feel “high,” Suboxone abuse can induce withdrawal symptoms.
Moreover, administering Suboxone too early—when another opioid is still in the system—can induce precipitated withdrawal symptoms.
The half-life of Suboxone ranges between 24 and 42 hours and is primarily determined by its main ingredient—buprenorphine. Naloxone, meanwhile, has a much shorter half-life of around 2–12 hours.
The half-life of any drug indicates how long it typically takes for the body to eliminate half a dose of it. However, it may take 4–5 half-lives for the drug to be fully eliminated from your system.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?
Suboxone can stay in your system for up to 210 hours (or up to 8 days), as it may take up to five Suboxone half-lives for your body to fully clear it out of the system.
While relatively uncommon, various drug tests can be conducted to detect Suboxone in your body. The detection window may vary greatly based on individual factors, including the specific drug test administered. These tests typically aim to detect buprenorphine in the system rather than naloxone.
With that in mind, let’s explore the general detection windows for different drug tests.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Blood
Suboxone stays and remains detectable in the blood up to 2 days following ingestion. However, blood tests that detect norbuprenorphine—a metabolite of buprenorphine—may detect its traces for up to 150 hours after the last dose.
These tests are the most accurate when conducted within 2 hours after taking the last dose, but they aren’t frequently used to detect Suboxone.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Hair
Suboxone can be detected in hair samples up to 90 days following ingestion. However, hair tests are rarely used to detect buprenorphine products, including Suboxone, primarily due to their costliness.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Saliva
Suboxone can be detected in saliva for up to 72 hours after the last dose. This method of testing is relatively common due to its non-invasive nature. However, saliva tests tend to be less sensitive than urine tests.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Urine
Suboxone is detectable in urine samples and urine screenings for up to 7–10 days following ingestion. Meanwhile, norbuprenorphine may be detected in urine for up to two weeks after the last dose. Urine tests are, by far, the most common way to test for the presence of Suboxone in the body.
Factors That Determine How Long Suboxone Stays in Your System
Various factors may impact your body’s ability to process and eliminate substances, which is why the question “How long does Suboxone stay in your system?” has no clear-cut answer. Metabolism, liver health, the extent of Suboxone use, and the use of other substances are among the main factors determining this.
Now, let’s take a closer look at these key factors:
- Metabolism. The quicker your metabolism is, the faster your body will get rid of Suboxone. For this reason, diet, activity level, genetics, body composition, and age may also play a role in determining how long Suboxone stays in your system. For example, 60-year-old patients will need more time to metabolize and eliminate the drug than 20-year-old patients since our metabolism tends to slow down with age.
- Liver health. Since Suboxone is metabolized in the liver, those with impaired liver function will generally need more time to clear this medication from their system. This may also extend the detection window for Suboxone. Other medical conditions (e.g., kidney problems) may also affect the body’s ability to eliminate this drug.
- Extent of Suboxone use. How long you’ve been taking Suboxone and at what doses is a significant factor in how long this medication stays in your system. Over time, high doses of Suboxone may accumulate in your body, which causes the drug to stay longer in your system.
- Use of other substances. The presence of other substances—be they herbal medicines or illicit drugs—in the body may impact its ability to break down and eliminate Suboxone.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to develop a dependency to Suboxone—even though it is used to treat opioid addiction.
Classified as a Schedule III controlled substance, Suboxone is thought to have a lower potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction than most other opioids. Nonetheless, it still exposes patients to the risk of addiction due to its main active ingredient—buprenorphine.
Even though it is often regarded as a relatively safe opioid, buprenorphine abuse isn’t rare. In the United States alone, 22.2% of all prescription painkiller misusers above the age of 12 abused this drug in 2021. These numbers are very concerning, given that Suboxone addiction typically results from Suboxone abuse.
Abusing Suboxone by taking it for non-medical purposes, at higher doses than prescribed, or mixing it with alcohol or other substances significantly increases the risk of addiction. This can also increase the risk of a potentially fatal opioid overdose.
While relatively uncommon, buprenorphine-involved overdose deaths accounted for 2.2% of all drug overdose deaths in the United States between July 2019 and 2021. Close to 93% of these deaths also involved other drugs.
Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms
If you discontinue Suboxone use after becoming dependent on it, you’ll experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone abuse and badly-timed administration of the drug can also induce withdrawal symptoms, which are very similar to those of other opioids.
Quitting Suboxone “cold turkey” may lead to particularly severe withdrawal symptoms and increase the risk of relapse and overdose, which can be deadly. For this reason, you should never stop taking this medication suddenly or without medical supervision.
Since Suboxone is a long-acting opioid, it may take around 2–3 days after the last dose for the first withdrawal symptoms to show up. These symptoms typically last 7–10 days, though some people may struggle with them for up to a month or even longer.
Some of the most common Suboxone withdrawal symptoms are:
- Abdominal cramps
- Body aches
- Flu-like symptoms like runny nose, fever, etc.
- Dilated pupils
ANR Opioid Dependence Treatment
Accelerated Neuro-Regulation (ANR) is a state-of-the-art opioid addiction treatment that can help you break free from Suboxone dependence within just a few days.
The ANR treatment is the only opioid dependence treatment that treats the root cause of the issue rather than only managing its symptoms. By re-regulating the endorphin-receptor system, ANR restores the brain to its normal state before addiction. Unlike MAT and other opioid addiction treatments, it eliminates withdrawal symptoms and, more importantly, cravings, negating the risk of relapse.
Most importantly, the ANR treatment doesn’t use buprenorphine, methadone, or other opioid replacement drugs that are addictive. Moreover, to ensure the safety and quality of the procedure, ANR is carried out by highly experienced healthcare professionals in an ICU setting at an accredited hospital.
With an average hospital stay of just 36 hours, the ANR treatment is safe, effective, and very quick.
To start your recovery journey with ANR, contact us today and book a free, 100% confidential consultation.
Hopefully, this article helped you better understand how long Suboxone stays in your system and the factors that determine this.
Before you leave, let’s go over the key points we covered:
- Suboxone is an opioid medication commonly prescribed as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people struggling with opioid addiction.
- Depending on your metabolism, extent of Suboxone use, liver health, and other substances you may be using, Suboxone may stay in your system for up to 210 hours. Still, some drug tests may be able to detect it for much longer than that.
- Urine tests, which are most commonly used to test for buprenorphine, can detect Suboxone in your system for up to 7–10 days after the last dose.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System and Other FAQs
It may take up to 210 hours for Suboxone to be fully cleared out of your system. How long it takes to get it out of your system depends on various factors. These include the extent of your Suboxone use, your metabolism, and whether or not you’re undergoing any treatments that may facilitate the detox process.
In most cases, Suboxone will not show up on a drug test. However, this largely depends on the type of test performed, as it will appear on tests designed to detect buprenorphine, its metabolites, or naloxone specifically.
Suboxone stays in the urine for up to 7–10 days after taking the last dose. Norbuprenorphine—a metabolite of buprenorphine, the main active ingredient of Suboxone—has a longer detection window than buprenorphine itself. Urine tests may be able to detect traces of it for up to two weeks following ingestion.
Suboxone doesn’t typically make you feel “high.” Not only does it have a ceiling effect, but it also releases naloxone into the system when taken in high doses. This induces withdrawal symptoms, which helps prevent opioid abuse.