If you or someone you know is seeking treatment for opioid addiction, there’s a chance you’ve been prescribed methadone or Suboxone as part of your treatment plan. Both are cornerstones of medication replacement therapy, a strategy used to treat patients with an opioid dependency or addiction.
Article at a Glance:
- Suboxone can be detected in your urine for up to two weeks after taking the last dose.
- Suboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone; each ingredient has its own half-life. Half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for half of a single dose of a drug to leave your body. It typically takes five half-lives for a drug to completely leave your system.
- Suboxone is detectable in urine, hair, saliva and blood tests.
Table of Contents
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?
Many people who take Suboxone are concerned with how long it will stay in their system. The length of time that the drug will stay in your system depends on several factors, but one of the biggest determining factors is its half-life.
The main ingredient in Suboxone, buprenorphine, has an especially long elimination half-life compared to other opioids. Elimination half-life refers to how long it takes for half of a single dose of a drug to leave the body. The half-life of buprenorphine is 24 to 42 hours.
It takes your body almost two full days to excrete 50% of the buprenorphine in a dose of Suboxone. Since it takes five half-lives for a drug to completely leave your system, it can take almost nine days for a single dose of Suboxone to be cleared from your body.
When your body starts to break down buprenorphine, the drug is metabolized into a substance called norbuprenorphine. This substance has a much longer half-life than buprenorphine, up to 150 hours. Further, norbuprenorphine can be found in your urine for up to 14 days.
Naloxone, the other ingredient in Suboxone, has a half-life of 2 to 12 hours. In turn, it can stay in your body for up to 60 hours. As naloxone is not a drug of abuse, doctors do not typically test for naloxone exposure.
Variables that Influence How Long Suboxone Stays in Your System
On average, Suboxone takes nine days to clear from a person’s system. Some people take longer than average to excrete the drug, while for others, it may leave their body faster. Some factors that may influence how long it takes to clear your system include:
- Liver Function: People with poor liver function can have higher levels of Suboxone in their bodies than people with normal liver function. Further, the half-life of Suboxone may be increased in people with liver problems.
- Dosage: The lower the dose of Suboxone that someone takes, the quicker it can be cleared from their body.
- Frequency of Use: Someone who takes Suboxone regularly may have some of the drug built up in their body. For this reason, someone who takes it regularly may take longer to clear it from their body than someone who has only taken it once.
- Co-Ingestion of Other Drugs: Some other medications can increase the level of Suboxone in your body so that it takes longer to leave your system. One of these drugs is atazanavir, an HIV medication in drugs like Evotaz and Reyataz.
Will Suboxone Show up on a Drug Test?
Various types of drug tests can detect Suboxone. Many people are concerned that Suboxone will trigger a false positive for other opioids, but this isn’t the case.
Standard urine screenings often assess for the presence of opioids via the detection of morphine. Many opioids, including heroin, metabolize into morphine and are, therefore, detected during urine screening tests. However, special tests are needed to detect opioids like Suboxone that do not metabolize into morphine.
Getting Treatment for Suboxone Addiction
If you are, or someone you know is, struggling with a dependence or addiction to Suboxone, know that you’re not alone.
The first step to getting treatment is admitting and accepting that your Suboxone use is no longer healthy. It’s one of the hardest steps to take, but it’s also an important one.
The course of treatment for Suboxone addiction varies from person to person but often includes detox, addiction counseling, medical therapy and aftercare. The goal is to help you not only through detox and your treatment program, but rather to teach you how to cope with daily situations after you leave an addiction treatment facility.
At The Recovery Village, we’re dedicated to helping you overcome your Suboxone addiction. You can live a happy, fulfilled, and meaningful life in recovery. Call our helpline to learn more about our customized substance abuse treatment programs.
ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” January 2019. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, January 30, 2020. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Smith, Kevin; Hopp, Michael; Mundin, Gill; et al. “Low Absolute Bioavailability of Oral Naloxone in Healthy Subjects.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 2012. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Gryczynski J, Schwartz RP, Mitchell SG, et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Belivanis, Stamatis; Tzatzarakis, Manolis n; Vakonaki, Elena; et al. “Buprenorphine and Nor-Buprenorphine Levels in Head Hair Samples From Former Heroin Users Under Suboxone® Treatment.” Drug Testing and Analysis, 2014. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Regina, Karen J; Kharasch, Evan D. “High-sensitivity analysis of buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine, buprenorphine glucuronide, and norbuprenorphine glucuronide in plasma and urine by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry.” Journal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences, 2013. Accessed June 21, 2020.
U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Suboxone.” October 31, 2019. Accessed June 21, 2020.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.