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How Long Does Belbuca Stay in Your System?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Mar 16, 2024 • 7 cited sources

Belbuca stays in your system for five to eight days, but its effects are generally felt for about 12 hours. 

What Is Belbuca? 

Belbuca is a brand name for buprenorphine that is unique because it comes in the form of a film applied to the inside of the cheek.[1] This buccal method of ingestion is more effective at getting buprenorphine into the system than swallowing pills, and this form of buprenorphine pain management lasts longer as well. 

Belbuca is used to manage moderate to severe chronic pain. The drug comes in seven different dose strengths, making it easier for patients to home on the dose that will be most effective for their needs.[1] Belbuca stays in the body longer than other types of buprenorphine, which means that the drug needs to be taken less frequently. 

Longer-acting drugs also have longer half-lives. When taking the drug, it is important to note that the longer half-life will mean that the drug stays in the system for longer and can be detected by drug tests.

How Long Does Belbuca Stay in the Body?

One dose of Belbuca stays in the system for anywhere between five and eight days in healthy people.[2] For people who are living with liver failure, liver disease or other types of liver dysfunction, the drug may stay in their system for up to 12 days.

Depending on individual patient experience, it may be prescribed for use every 12 hours to maintain therapeutic levels in the body.[1] 

Understanding the Half-Life of Belbuca

The half-life of a medication is described by how long it takes for half of the dose to be processed fully out of the system. Buprenorphine will have a different half-life in different forms. The longer-acting the medication it is, the longer it stays in the system, and the longer its half-life. 

Belbuca is a long-acting version of buprenorphine. On average, its half-life is about 38 hours but will vary from 25 to 70 hours depending on the person.[3]

Factors That Influence How Long Belbuca Stays in Your System

The specifics of how long Belbuca stays in the system and how long it remains at a high enough level to be therapeutically valuable will vary from person to person.[4] Various specifics have a significant impact on the half-life of the drug.


There are seven different doses available for Belbuca. The higher the dose taken, the longer it will take to process the drug entirely out of your system.[1]


Metabolism describes how quickly the body can break down a substance. Some people have slower metabolisms, while other people have higher metabolisms. It is common to hear this word when discussing the breakdown of food, but it applies to medications as well, and a slower metabolism can mean it takes longer to process certain drugs. 


Buprenorphine is lipid soluble, which means that it is stored in the fat cells before it is broken down enough to be water soluble and eliminated from the body through urine.[5] If there is more fat stored in the body, the drug will be stored throughout the body, and it may take longer to process out all of the substance.

Liver Function 

Buprenorphine is broken down by hepatic metabolism, meaning it is metabolized in the liver.[5] If the person has any liver dysfunction, such as hepatitis C or liver disease, it will take longer to metabolize the drug.


Metabolism slows down with age as does the function of organs.[6] This means that older adults will take longer to process Belbuca, so it may remain in their systems for longer. 

Duration of Use

Taking Belbuca for a long period means that the drug may have built up in the body. For example, since the half-life is 38 hours, if the drug is taken every 12 hours, the body doesn’t have time to completely process out the last dose before a new dose is introduced into the body, which causes the substance to build in the system. 

The longer that someone takes Belbuca, the longer it will be before all of the drug is flushed completely out of the system. 

Can Belbuca Show Up on a Drug Test?

Yes, Belbuca can show up on a drug test that is looking for buprenorphine. Because buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, it may not show up in the same way that full opioid agonists will. 

It will potentially be detectable for up to eight days after the last dose based on the drug’s half-life. Still, most standard drug tests don’t test for Belbuca or other forms of buprenorphine.[7] 

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Belbuca. Collegium Pharmaceutical. Accessed December 21, 2023.
  2. Belbuca (buccal film) Uses, side effects & warnings. Accessed December 21, 2023. 
  3. Buprenorphine. National Library of Medicine. Published November 30, 2023. Accessed December 21, 2023.
  4. Half Life. StatPearls. Published June 20, 2023. Accessed December 21, 2023.
  5. Kitzmiller JP, Barnett CJ, Steiner NS, et al. Buprenorphine: revisiting the efficacy of the transdermal delivery system. Therapeutic Delivery. 2015;6(4):419-422. 
  6. Mangoni AA, Jackson SHD. Age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics: Basic principles and practical applications. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2004;57(1):6-14.   
  7. Jamshidi, MBBS, FRACP, FAChAM, BPharm (hons), PhD N, Athavale, MBBS, FRACP, BPharm (hons), MMed A, Murnion, MBChB, FRACP, FFPMANZCA, FAChAM B. Buprenorphine not detected on urine drug screening in supervised treatment. Journal of Opioid Management. 2021;17(7):69-76. 

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