How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?
It was developed as an alternative to methadone, the longtime go-to drug for treating heroin addiction.
Though still opioids, methadone and buprenorphine don’t create the same intense high as illicit and commonly abused prescription opioids. They can therefore reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but they aren’t as addictive or generally desirable. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, there were 1.9 million people in the United States with an addiction disorder involving painkillers in 2014.
Suboxone, however, is still addictive, being an opioid. It can also be abused for an intense high. Though it won’t have much of an effect on those who are already addicted to opioids since these individuals have likely already built up a significant tolerance; those who have never used or only occasionally used these drugs are vulnerable to becoming addicted to either methadone or any of the buprenorphine formulations.
How Suboxone Is Metabolized
The buprenorphine in Suboxone has an especially long elimination half-life compared to other opioids. Elimination half-life refers to the amount of time it takes for half of a single dose of a drug to leave the body. For buprenorphine, this period lasts for 37 hours, meaning that it can take over 8 days for Suboxone to no longer be detectable in a person’s body.
This period of time is not the same for everyone. There are a number of factors that influence how quickly Suboxone will be flushed out of the system. These include:
- Body fat content
- Weight and height
- Metabolism speed
- Size of the last dose taken
- Amount of time the abuse has gone on
- Liver health
The process of metabolizing Suboxone in the liver creates metabolites that tend to stay in the body for even longer than the drug itself. Modern drug tests can detect these as well, so even after 8 days, an individual might still produce a positive test for buprenorphine.
Blood tests are invasive but can detect substances shortly after ingestion; however, they also have a smaller window to detect buprenorphine. The best time for a blood test to work is a little over 2 hours after the last dose. Saliva tests are used more often because they’re noninvasive and simple to administer. These tests can work for a few days or possibly more than a week after the last dose of Suboxone.
Urine tests are the most commonly used, especially by employers. Buprenorphine will become detectable in the urine just 40 minutes after consumption, and for long-term, heavy users, the drug will show up in these tests for up to 2 weeks later. The drug and its metabolites can also built up in hair follicles and can be detected in hair tests for 1-3 months, though this is not a very reliable form of drug testing.
Suboxone addiction may not be as common as other addiction disorders, but it’s essentially just another opioid problem. There are many specialized facilities that can treat this kind of disorder and help afflicted individuals avoid the many issues associated with long-term opioid abuse. If an addiction is suspected, it’s best to seek medical advice and taper off the dosage of Suboxone under medical supervision rather than quitting cold turkey.