Generally, it takes 20 to 60 minutes for the first dose of Suboxone to start working.
The drug reaches its peak approximately 1.5 to 3 hours after it is administered. It is then pharmacologically active for approximately the next 24 hours.
Factors That Affect How Long It Takes Suboxone to Kick In
The actual time it can take for Suboxone to “kick in” depends on many different factors.
Your dose might take longer to take hold due to the following:
- History of substance misuse
- Metabolic system
- Other lifestyle or environmental factors
Suboxone Pills vs. Strips
There are two methods of administering Suboxone: tablets (pills) and strips. Both take effect within about 20 to 60 minutes. Both are dissolved under the tongue instead of swallowed.
Regardless of the method of administration, both Suboxone pills and strips begin to work in the body equally quickly after being absorbed under the tongue.
How Long Does It Take for Suboxone Pills vs Strips to Kick In?
Most patients on Suboxone therapy receive their medication in strip form, but some also use the tablets/pills. Suboxone pills take ever so slightly longer to dissolve under the tongue than strips, maybe by a minute or two. However once absorbed, the time to relieve symptoms is essentially the same.
What to Do if You Don’t Feel Anything
It is important to wait to initiate your Suboxone until you are in active withdrawal and only after other opioids are out of your system. Before you take your first dose, you should wait until you are actively in opioid withdrawal.
Everyone’s body is different and the best way to tell if you are in withdrawal is simply to examine how you feel. However, if you are not sure, a good rule of thumb is to wait approximately:
- 12 hours since you last took a short-acting opioid (like heroin or crushed prescription OxyContin)
- 24 hours since you last took a long-acting opioid (like oral OxyContin)
- 48-72 hours since you last took methadone
Always consult your treatment provider before initiating Suboxone, as these times vary significantly from person to person and depending on what kind of opioids were used prior.
If you don’t feel like the Suboxone is having any effect 2-4 hours after the first dose (that is, you still feel the opioid withdrawal), your provider may advise you to take another dose that same day (which is often between 2 mg and 4 mg).
If your initial experience is that the Suboxone is not having any apparent effect, this is not a cause for concern. Simply inform your treating provider, and they can help adjust the Suboxone to find the dose that’s right for you.
How Long Will Suboxone Last?
When taken on schedule (once a day, at the same time every day), Suboxone works effectively to manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. For most people, Suboxone prevents withdrawal for 12-24 hours, which is why people take it once a day, but sometimes more frequently up to two or three times a day.
Based on your medical profile and history, your doctor will give you a customized prescription of online Suboxone to maximize its benefits and minimize its side effects for you individually.
- Buprenorphine: New Treatment of Opioid Addiction in Primary Care. Canada Family Physician. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21402963/. 2011. Accessed February 2022.
- Buprenorphine and Nor-Buprenorphine Levels in Head Hair Samples From Former Heroin Users Under Suboxone® Treatment. Drug Testing and Analysis. https://doi.org/10.1002/dta.1611. May 2014. Accessed February 2022.
- Rapid Identification of Buprenorphine in Patient Saliva. Journal of Analytical and Bioanalytical Techniques. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28944090/. 2017. Accessed February 2022.
- Trends in Buprenorphine Treatment in the United States, 2009-2018. Journal of the American Medical Association. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2758992. January 2021. Accessed February 2022.
- Suboxone: Rationale, Science, Misconceptions. The OchsnerJournal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5855417/. Spring 2018. Accessed February 2022.
Medically Reviewed By: Elena Hill, MD, MPH
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