Does Suboxone Show up on a Drug Test?

When recovering from drug addiction, regular drug tests are typically part of treatment.
These tests help track drug use, so therapists and doctors can measure how successful treatment is in terms of helping you maintain sobriety. You may also need to undergo drug testing in order to gain employment. If you are being treated for an addiction to opioid drugs, such as morphine, oxycodone, or heroin, you may be receiving Suboxone as part of your treatment. While Suboxone does mimic some of the effects of opioid drugs, Suboxone does not show up on standard drug panels.

What Is Suboxone?

PillsSuboxone is a combination of the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it mimics some of the effects of opioid drugs. In doing so, buprenorphine can ease symptoms of withdrawal and prevent cravings. Buprenorphine has been shown to be effective in re-establishing normal brain function and preventing relapse. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of opioid drugs. Adding naloxone to buprenorphine prevents buprenorphine from causing the “high” associated with illicit opioid drug use. Regardless of the amount of Suboxone taken, it will not cause a high. This helps prevent this medication from being diverted from legitimate uses, such as being stolen and sold as a street drug.

When receiving treatment with Suboxone, you should never stop taking the drug suddenly or without a doctor’s approval. Stopping use of Suboxone too quickly can cause withdrawal symptoms. The National Library of Medicine lists the following symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal:

  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Restlessness
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

You do not need to stop taking Suboxone before undergoing a drug test. Always take Suboxone exactly as prescribed.

Testing for Suboxone Use

Suboxone does not show up as a positive result in standard drug panels.
According the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), there is currently no drug test that measures buprenorphine. Buprenorphine can only be detected in urine, blood, or hair by using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry, and not by the urine and saliva tests normally used to detect drug use. If a physician wishes to monitor a patient’s use of Suboxone in order to ensure compliance with treatment, it is necessary to monitor administration of the drug directly rather than using drug tests.

While buprenorphine, one of the ingredients of Suboxone, is similar to opioid drugs, it is metabolized differently. Metabolites are the chemical result of your body breaking down the drugs in your system. Standard drug panels test for metabolites of certain drugs. The metabolites produced by buprenorphine do not show up on these standard drug panels.
Suboxone can be a very effective treatment tool when recovering from addiction to opioid drugs. This medication does not cause a high, and it is generally not considered a drug of abuse. Standard drug panels do not test for Suboxone, and it is not necessary to stop taking Suboxone before a drug test.

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