How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?

A pile of orange suboxone pills in a container

Suboxone is a medication used for the treatment of opioid use disorder that is commonly used as a maintenance therapy. It can help a person with opioid dependence by reducing their cravings. Suboxone is a combination of two medications — buprenorphine and naloxone — that comes as a tablet or film that dissolves under the tongue. How long Suboxone stays in your system will depend on a variety of factors, including frequency of use, age and overall health. 

Duration of Effects of Suboxone

Suboxone works by interacting with opioid receptors. Buprenorphine binds to the opioid receptors and naloxone inhibits the euphoria response. The combination of the two drugs prevents withdrawal symptoms but does not produce a high like prescription opioids do. The initial effects occur rapidly, within 30–60 minutes of taking Suboxone.

The duration of Suboxone’s effects depends on the dose that is used. Dosing is determined by the minimal amount of drug that gives the person relief of withdrawal symptoms. No matter the dose, Suboxone is dissolved under the tongue once daily, making the Suboxone duration approximately 24 hours. 

Suboxone Half-Life

Once a drug enters your system and reaches its peak concentration in your blood, the half-life is the amount of time it takes for the concentration of the drug to be cut in half. The half-life of Suboxone is different for the two different drugs that it is composed of. When dissolved under the tongue as recommended, the half-life of buprenorphine is 24–48 hours, while the half-life of naloxone is 2–12 hours

Suboxone Screening Detection Times

After taking Suboxone, the medication may be detected in a person’s system for varying amounts of time, depending on what is being tested. The general detection times are as follows:

Urine

The detection time for Suboxone in urine is about two weeks. Suboxone is first detected in urine within 40 minutes of taking the drug. How long Suboxone stays in your urine depends on the concentration of buprenorphine in the drug, which can be detected in urine for up to two weeks.   

Blood

How long Suboxone stays in your blood depends mostly on the half-life of the drug, since the half-life is determined from the concentration in the plasma of the blood. Suboxone may show up in a blood test if it is specifically tested for. Based on the half-life, it is estimated to be detectable for five to ten days after use. 

Saliva

How long does Suboxone stay in your saliva? Suboxone can be detected in a saliva drug test for a few days to a week after being used. Detection of Suboxone in saliva requires the test to specifically measure for one of buprenorphine’s metabolites.

Hair

How long Suboxone stays in your hair or hair follicle, which is usually what’s tested, depends on many factors. A hair follicle test for Suboxone will generally detect the buprenorphine metabolite for one to three months after use.

Factors Affecting How Long Suboxone Stays in Your System

How long Suboxone is in your system depends on a variety of factors. Suboxone stays in your system until it is fully metabolized and no longer stored anywhere in the body. The rate that this occurs varies from person-to-person based on:

  • Frequency & Amount of Use: The dosing of Suboxone is determined on an individual basis. The physician will gradually increase the amount until the individual has relief of their symptoms. This can range anywhere from 4 mg buprenorphine/1 mg naloxone to 24 mg buprenorphine/6 mg naloxone per day. Increasing the frequency and amount of the drug used will increase the detection time. For example, how long 2mg of Suboxone stays in your system will be shorter than that of a 4 mg dose.
  • Age & Health: How long Suboxone stays in your system can depend on your age and weight. Drug metabolism tends to decrease as people age. This means that drugs will stick around longer in people who are older. Suboxone metabolism also changes with a person’s health. People with liver impairments will metabolize the drug more slowly. 
  • Weight & Body Fat Content: How long it takes for Suboxone to leave a person’s system depends on their weight. People who weigh more tend to metabolize drugs faster. 
  • Method of Use: Suboxone is prescribed as a tablet or strip that dissolves under the tongue. How long the Suboxone strip stays in your system depends on the dose of the strip. Some people may refer to the tablet as a pill. However, it should not be taken like a normal pill. How long a Suboxone tablet or pill stays in your system depends on the person allowing it to fully dissolve under their tongue. If it is swallowed, not as much of the drug will be absorbed and it will be less effective.

False Positives for Suboxone Use

A false positive drug test occurs when the result shows the presence of a drug in a person’s system despite them not actually consuming the drug. Suboxone is an opioid-like drug. However, it is not detected by traditional opioid drug tests. Opioid drug tests are usually designed to detect morphine or codeine, as most opioids will be metabolized into the morphine compound. When the buprenorphine in Suboxone is metabolized, it forms norbuprenorphine, not morphine. Therefore, a false positive for Suboxone is unlikely. 

A specific test to detect norbuprenorphine is needed to detect Suboxone use. Regardless, if you are taking Suboxone and are tested for opioids, it is a good idea to inform the tester to avoid a false positive Suboxone result.

How Is Suboxone Metabolized?

Suboxone is metabolized in your liver and excreted in urine. To metabolize Suboxone, it must be absorbed into the blood and exposed to enzymes in the liver that will process it. The metabolites are then released back into the blood and filtered into urine by the kidney.

Suboxone is an addictive substance that can be dangerous if misused. If you or a loved one are affected by an opioid use disorder, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. To learn more about our comprehensive treatment plans, call The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to speak with a representative.

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Barras, Michael, et al. “Drug dosing in obese adults.” Australian Prescriber, October, 2017. Accessed August 4, 2019.

Reisfield, Gary M., et al. “Review: Rational Use and Interpretation of Urine Drug Testing in Chronic Opioid Therapy.” Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science, Autumn 2007. Accessed August 4, 2019.