How Long Does Subutex Stay in Your System?

Last Updated: May 30, 2023

Editorial Policy | Research Policy

Subutex (buprenorphine) is an opioid medication that is used to help treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. Subutex works as a partial agonist, meaning that it stimulates opioid receptors in the brain, but only partially. This helps people avoid having the same high and other negative effects that they would have with other strong opioids.

Because Subutex is an opioid medication, many people who take it wonder how long it will affect them and if it will be detected in a drug screen. Subutex does last for much longer than many other medications, even though it is not nearly as strong as other opioids.

Duration of Effects of Subutex

Subutex is a long-lasting medication and will last for much longer than most opioids. Typically, the effects of Subutex will last for 24–72 hours. However, these effects may last longer, depending upon the health of the person taking Subutex, the amount of Subutex taken and if other medications are also used. Someone who is taking Subutex for the first time should avoid driving or other activities requiring concentration, alertness or fast reflexes until they know how Subutex affects them and how long these effects last.

Subutex Half-Life

The half-life of a medication is how long it takes for the body to eliminate half of the medication that was initially present. After five half-lives, the drug is effectively eliminated from the body. The half-life of Subutex is quite long, lasting 24–42 hours, and making the effects of Subutex last for much longer than other opioid medications. This means that it will typically take several days for Subutex to get out of your system. While the typical half-life of Subutex is one to two days, it may be outside of this range depending upon how it was used and the metabolism of the individual using Subutex.

Subutex Drug Test & Screening Detection Times

Many people who are about to start Subutex or have recently taken it will wonder, “Does Subutex show up on a drug test?” Subutex is a newer medication, and, initially, Subutex drug tests were uncommon. Subutex is processed by the body differently than many opioids, and it does not show up as an opioid in conventional drug screens. However, while Subutex was not routinely tested at first, it is now becoming more common for employers or law enforcement to include Subutex in drug tests.

Urine Test

Subutex does not show up as an opioid in basic drug tests and is not likely to give a false positive for opioids. However, Subutex can still be tested for in the urine and may be detected for at least 7–10 days following the last dose.

Blood Test

Subutex lasts for a long time in the bloodstream, due to its long half-life. Subutex is typically fully cleared from the bloodstream in about 9 days and will not commonly be detectable after that time for most people. This timeframe may be longer for those who have poor health or are elderly.

Saliva Test

Subutex can be tested using saliva, although this method of testing is newer and not commonly used. Subutex may be detectable for 24 hours or longer in saliva and may be detectable for over a week in some cases.

Hair Test

Although Subutex can be tested for in a hair follicle test, it is not routinely included. If Subutex is tested for in a hair follicle test, it can typically be detected for up to 90 days.

Factors Affecting How Long Subutex Stays in Your System

There are several factors that will affect how long Subutex will stay in your system. These factors include:

  • Frequency and amount of use: The more Subutex that is in your system, the longer it will take your body to get rid of it. This includes both the amount of Subutex that you use and how frequently you use it.
  • Age and health: Your body will typically process Subutex more slowly if you have certain health problems. Problems affecting the liver or kidneys can increase the length of time Subutex stays in your body. As we age, our bodies naturally slow and may take longer to process drugs like Subutex.
  • Weight and body fat content: Subutex is a lipid-soluble medication, meaning that it is easily absorbed by fatty tissue. This means that those who are overweight will absorb more Subutex into their tissues, and it will be slowly released from these tissues over time. This means that Subutex stays in your system for longer the more you weigh.
  • How Subutex is used: How Subutex is used will not change how long it takes your body to process it, but it will change how quickly it becomes available for the body to process and how much gets into the bloodstream. If you inject Subutex, for instance, it will be available for the body to begin processing much faster, but a greater amount of the dose will be available, possibly prolonging how long it is in your system.

False Positives for Subutex Use

False positives during a Subutex drug screen are not uncommon. Subutex is a newer medication, and many of the tests for it provide a higher rate of false positives if you are taking opioids or other drugs. Because there is a higher rate of false positives for Subutex, you should ask for the exact details about the type of test and the rate of false positives that it typically gives if you are being tested for Subutex. You should also provide information about other medications or drugs that you are taking prior to the test so that potential false positives can be identified.

How Is Subutex Eliminated From the Body?

Subutex is eliminated from the body primarily through a complicated chemical pathway in the liver. Subutex is broken down into smaller and smaller molecules called metabolites that are not chemically active. These metabolites are eliminated from the body primarily through the digestive tract, although some small amount is eliminated in the urine. This process will take several days, and it is not possible to significantly change how quickly you can eliminate Subutex from your system.

If you or a loved one is abusing Subutex or other medications and drugs, a comprehensive treatment program can help. The Recovery Village has a strong record of helping people living with addiction and co-occurring mental health conditions. Reach out to an understanding team member today to learn more about how you can start on your path to recovery.


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