How Long Does Suboxone Stay In System?

Last Updated: December 19, 2019

Authored by Roger Weiss, MD

The duration for which Suboxone stays in system depends on a number of physical factors.
For example, age, weight, body fat, and a unique metabolic capacity. The doses one took and duration of abuse are the other determinants. Moreover, the detection test and samples used also determine if the medication is present in urine, blood or saliva.
Many people are eager to know how long Suboxone stays in their system. Most probably, they do not want to test positive for the medication. Or, some may wish to know the right time to test when they suspect someone they love has an addiction. In any case, a drug detection test is an important tool that confirms if someone has the drug in system.

Suboxone is a combination medication that treats opiate addiction. There are two medications in a single tablet or film of Suboxone. They are Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine is a weak opiate while Naloxone acts against the effects of opiate medications. The combination provides relief from the cravings. Also, it reduces the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. It is a powerful medication. Besides, it can cause an addiction. Thus, an individual should take it only under a doctor’s prescription.

Understanding How Suboxone Enters System

When users take Suboxone by mouth, first it dissolves in the fluids in the stomach and intestines. Next, it crosses the biological barriers in the walls of the digestive tract. Then, it reaches the blood circulation. Now, the medication will travel to various parts of the body. Only after it reaches the brain, it begins to show the effects. For this reason, one will have to wait for a certain duration before they start feeling better. This is in contrast to the drug one takes by an injection, snorting or smoking.

What Happens To Suboxone After Absorption?

Suboxone does not remain in system in its original form forever. Certain portion undergoes metabolism and changes into other chemicals. They call them metabolites. In a similar manner, 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.

Half-lives Of Individual Medications Determine How Long Suboxone Stays In System

The elimination half-life of Naloxone ranges from 2 to 12 hours. Likewise, for Buprenorphine, it is 24 to 42 hours. Before we predict how long Suboxone stays in system, let’s learn in brief about the elimination half-life of a medication.
Elimination half-life refers to the time taken for the initial concentration of the medication in blood to reduce to half. Here is a simple illustrative example.
Let’s say a drug has a half-life of 30 minutes. Now, 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 predicting the duration of stay of a drug in the system is far more complicated than this simple calculation. In general, we may say the longer the half-life, the longer it will stay in system.
By the same token, Suboxone may be detected in the body fluids for up to 8 days after the last dose. If someone has been abusing it for a long time, the duration can further extend to about two weeks.

How Long Does It Take For Suboxone To Get Out Of System?

An undetectable amount of Suboxone may stay in system for several months after the last dose. In general, it takes at least a week for Suboxone to get out of the system. Nonetheless, this depends on how much one took and their abuse history. Researchers say it can linger in the hair follicles for many months.

What Is The Best Time To Go For Suboxone Test?

If someone wants to test for Suboxone, the best time to go would be at least an hour after the last dose. For the urine test, the time can be further shorter at 40 minutes after they take it. For the blood test, it may be an hour or two after the last dose.

How Long Does Suboxone Stay In System? – Key Takeaways

  • Various patient and drug factors influence the how long does Suboxone stay in system. Considering this, it may not be exactly possible to pinpoint a numeric value for this.
  • Follow the doctor’s instructions on the safe use of the medication. That way, one will be less likely to abuse it and may also prevent addiction.
  • Suboxone is less addictive than other more powerful opiates like heroin or morphine. But, it is still addictive. If someone has developed an addiction, seek a medical help right away.
  • A patient should not become pregnant before Suboxone is completely out of the body. A baby exposed to an opiate while in the womb may develop potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms after the birth. Likewise, one should not breastfeed if they are taking it. Thus, it is very important that a patient talks to the doctor about pregnancy/lactation while taking Suboxone.

Page Sources

  1. Jennifer R. Velander. Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions. Ochsner J. 2018. 23-29.
  2. Jasinski DR., Pevnick JS., Griffith JD. Human pharmacology and abuse potential of the analgesic buprenorphine: a potential agent for treating narcotic addiction. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1978. April; 35 4: 501- 516.

Published on: June 12th, 2017

Updated on: December 19th, 2019

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.


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