How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System? Suboxone Drug Test

Last Updated: November 26, 2021

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Suboxone is a popular approved medication. Its uses include the treatment of narcotic addiction, opioid dependence, and abuse. In addition, it helps by reducing the withdrawal symptoms that can occur in treatment, especially when opioid use is stopped or reduced, and helps patients on the road to recovery. It is made of a combination of Buprenorphine, an opioid, and Naloxone, an opioid antagonist. Although Naloxone is effective in opioid overdose, it does not help in alcohol abuse or poisoning.

How long Suboxone stays in the body depends on several physical factors such as age, weight, body fat, and individual metabolic capacity. Therefore, an essential tool that confirms if someone has the medication in the system would be a test that proves whether it is in urine, blood, or saliva regardless of the symptoms. This article will look further into how it enters the body, how long it stays in your system and the factors that affect how long it stays in the body. It will also cover how to detect it in the body.

How Does Suboxone Enter the Body?

How does Suboxone enter the system? Like any oral medication, when users take it by mouth, it dissolves in the fluids within the stomach and intestines. It then crosses the biological barriers within the digestive tract walls before being transferred into the blood circulation. So now, the medication will travel to various parts of the body. Only after it reaches the brain do the effects of the medicine begin to show.

For this reason, a person will have to wait for a particular duration before feeling better. For the Suboxone oral pill, it takes about one to six hours. However, this contrasts with the medicine absorbed faster through injection, snorting, or smoking.

It does not remain within the system in its original form forever. Instead, a particular portion undergoes metabolism and changes into other chemicals called metabolites. Similarly, the body eliminates either the original compound or its metabolites. That said, the drug detection tests can identify both of them in various body fluids.

Woman is holding white round pill

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?

In general, most medications stay in the body for at least a few hours to a few days to help patients with recovery. After the last use, they are often traceable with urine tests. However, the length of effects of different drugs varies greatly. The half-life of a drug can help determine how long it will stay in the system. The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half. Thus, the half-lives of individual medications depend on how the body processes and gets rid of the drug. It can vary from a few hours to a few days, or sometimes weeks.

Before predicting how long Suboxone stays in the system, let’s briefly learn about the elimination half-life. Here is a simple illustrative example. Let’s say a drug has a half-life of 30 minutes.

If a Person Takes 100mg of It by Injecting:

  • After 30 minutes, only 50mg will be present in the blood (First half-life)
  • After 60 minutes, only 25mg will be present in the blood (Second half-life)

And it goes on. So, a drug has many half-lives. But remember that predicting the duration of a drug remaining is far more complicated than this simple calculation. In general, the longer the half-life, the longer it will stay in the system.

Earlier, it was mentioned that it is a combination of Naloxone and Buprenorphine. Thus it is worth noting the elimination half-life of Narcan ranges from 2 to 12 hours. Likewise, for Buprenorphine, it is 24 to 42 hours.

Determining how long it stays in the system can be based on the Suboxone half-life. For instance, it may be detected in the body fluids for up to 8 days after the last dose. However, if someone has been using it for a long time, the duration can extend to about two weeks since the half-life would be prolonged. Therefore, different types of tests can be used to detect the amounts of it that remain.

Factors That Influence How Long Suboxone Stays in Your System

So, how long does Suboxone stay in your system? It also depends on several factors affecting how long any medication remains in an individual’s system. Unfortunately, as we have seen, determining how long a drug stays in your system can be challenging to determine precisely. But these factors help us deduce the value for each individual and help determine the drug detection window even while the person is in recovery.

The Elements Are as Follows:

  • Age, weight, and metabolism: In general, many drugs tend to stay in an older person's body much longer, prolonging the drug's effect and raising the risk of Suboxone side effects. Weight is also a factor. Usually, medications can have longer detection times in people with more weight since drugs accumulate in fatty tissues. Metabolism is another crucial factor as the metabolic rate varies from person to person. Metabolic rates can even be affected by age, weight, and underlying health conditions. People with higher metabolic rates usually eliminate medications faster, thus leaving a shorter time for the drug to be detected in the system.
  • Dosage and frequency of use: It is reasonable to assume that a higher dose will mean the more prolonged the medication will remain within the body. For example, suppose a person took 15mg of it, and another took 5mg. The person with the lower dose will eliminate the drug in a short time. Therefore, the more often someone takes Suboxone medication, the longer it will steadily accumulate than someone who took a single dose regarding the frequency of use.
  • Liver function: Most drugs must pass through the liver, where drug metabolism mainly occurs. If the liver is healthy, it functions normally, but drug metabolism will be affected those with poor liver function, as seen in victims of drug abuse. Thus, its half-life can significantly increase in people with liver diseases, and they may require higher doses of Suboxone.
  • Combining Suboxone with other drugs: Using it with other drugs can affect how long it stays within the body. Generally, interactions between medications may make it less effective, cause unexpected side effects, or increase its activity within the body. Sometimes, mixing medications can even be harmful to one’s health. For instance, mixing it with alcohol can be dangerous as alcohol combined with any opiate-containing medicines can be lethal. In addition, alcohol increases the sedating effects of opioid medications, causing drowsiness and loss of consciousness.

Does Suboxone Show Up on a Drug Test?

Although it is a prescription medication, some people could be concerned about showing up on a standard drug test requested in different scenarios. For instance, a drug test may be required when interviewing for a new job, but most people would not want their employer to know they are on medication that aids with withdrawal or addiction. Other scenarios could be a drug test before or after a criminal conviction when competing in professional sports, health checks at a regular workplace, or as part of medical diagnostics.

As mentioned before, Suboxone contains the opioid, Buprenorphine. Scientific resources show that while it is used for the treatment of opioid addiction, it indeed mimics some of the effects of opioid drugs. Still, despite this, it does not typically show up on standard drug panels as other addiction-causing opioids would. However, there is a chance for it to show up on a 12-panel drug test. In addition, there is usually a detection period for it on a 12-panel drug test which is about 7–10 days after the last usage. Therefore, while a 12-panel drug test may detect Suboxone, there will always be variations. Hence, only a test designed to find specifically Buprenorphine or its metabolites, broken down into chemical fractions, will give a conclusive positive result.

So how can Suboxone be detected in the body? According to scientific resources, there are specific tests such as urine, hair, blood, and saliva tests.

Suboxone Urine Test

Often urine tests are the most common type of drug test, mainly because they provide quick results. So how long does Suboxone stay in your urine? If it is in the urine, it can show as quickly as 40 minutes after taking the substance. However, suppose you are a consistent Suboxone user; it may show on a urine test even if your last dose was two weeks prior.

When consumed, the Buprenorphine part of Suboxone is broken down chemically into metabolites. One of them is Norbuprenorphine, and it can be detected in the urine.

Suboxone Hair Test

Hair tests, however, provide the most extended detection window. Interestingly, even 1-3 months after use, the hair follicle can contain traces of it.

Suboxone Blood Test

Blood tests are used less frequently for drug testing because they are more expensive and involve injections that people might not like. In addition, it is detectable by blood analysis for up to two days or more after the last dose.

Suboxone Saliva Test

It is also detectable in saliva just minutes after taking the medication. Since the last dose, saliva tests can even be used for up to five days and still provide an accurate result.

Drug test report

Will Suboxone Test Positive for Opiates?

It should typically not cause false positives for other opioids, and instead, it is used in treatment for opiate withdrawal. Therefore, it can only be positive for an opioid or drug test if the panel mainly tests its components, Buprenorphine, Naloxone, or its metabolites.

What Is the Take-Home Message?

So how long does Suboxone stay in your system when used for treatment? In conclusion, that ​various factors such as age, weight, body fat, liver function, and half-life influence how long it stays in the system. Nevertheless, it improves health. It is used in opioid dependence treatment, narcotic abuse and helps patients in recovery from withdrawal symptoms. Suboxone management treatment is usually provided at the clinics, which focus on opioid addiction treatment. Usually, it enters the body orally and follows digestion until it is absorbed into one`s system. A detectable trace of it can be found in the body even three months after use, and this can be checked with a hair test. According to scientific resources, other tests include the blood test that can be used to trace it for up to two days and a saliva test that can be accurate even after five days since the last use. However, the most popular test is the urine test, which gives quick results and is precise even two weeks after taking the medication. Will Suboxone test positive for opiates? Although it and other opioid antagonists share similarities, they have fundamental differences in chemical structure, which would be used during the detection test.

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Page Sources

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Published on: June 12th, 2017

Updated on: November 26th, 2021

About Author

Roger Weiss, MD

Dr. Roger Weiss is a practicing mental health specialist at the hospital. Dr. Weiss combines his clinical practice and medical writing career since 2009. Apart from these activities, Dr. Weiss also delivers lectures for youth, former addicts, and everyone interested in topics such as substance abuse and treatment.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.