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How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System? (Urine, Hair, Blood)

Suboxone is detectable in your body for up to 90 days.

how long is suboxone detectable in your system

Suboxone contains both buprenorphine, a long-acting partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, a fast-acting opioid antagonist. Buprenorphine is the active ingredient that minimizes opioid withdrawal and prevents craving and relapse to opioid use, and naloxone prevents people from tampering with the medication. On its own, naloxone metabolizes out of the body in 6 days, except for hair, which retains some trace for up to 90 days. Buprenorphine, however, has metabolites that remain detectable in the blood and saliva for 3 days, urine for 6 days, and hair for up to 90 days.

Suboxone Combines Very Different Medicines

Suboxone is a Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) that helps people struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD). In the short term, it alleviates uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. However, when taken daily over months or years, it reduces craving and helps people stay abstinent fom opioids. It also helps people feel physically and emotionally stable, so they can focus on rehabilitation and counseling.[1] It is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone in about a 4 to 1 ratio.

People who take Suboxone usually take a dose between 8 and 16 mg per day, once daily, when they are stabilized on it. However, depending on your needs, you may take two or three smaller doses per day, or you may take a dose every other day.

Buprenorphine’s half-life is 25 to 72 hours, and it remains detectable for much longer. Naloxone metabolizes out of the body much faster (usually within minutes or hours), but metabolites can remain detectable in some cases.

Different parts of your body will eliminate Suboxone’s components at different rates. This article discusses the average timelines for buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine: Long-Acting Partial Opioid Agonist

Peak effects from buprenorphine typically occur between 8 and 12 hours after you’ve taken the sublingual dose. It allows you to go through your day without feeling cravings or withdrawal symptoms.[2] The drug’s mean half-life is listed as about 30 hours, but if you metabolize it more slowly, the half-life can be as long as 72 hours (3 days).

  • Blood: Buprenorphine is detectable in your blood between 1 and 3 days (24 to 72 hours), with 2 days (48 hours) being the average time. Blood tests have a shorter detection window than urine tests, and they are more invasive, so they are less frequently used. But they are the most accurate way to measure whether buprenorphine might still be active in your brain.

  • Saliva: Buprenorphine can be detected in your saliva for up to 3 days after you have stopped taking it.[3]

  • Urine: While most buprenorphine is eliminated through feces, some of it is eliminated through urine. In urine, metabolites can be detected for up to 6 days.

  • Hair: Drugs can be detected in your hair for months after you stop taking them, since metabolites will enter the follicle and exit as your hair grows. This means your hair has signatures of certain medications or illicit drugs as you consume them or quit. Buprenorphine can remain detectable in your hair for up to 90 days (3 months), but this can also depend on the hair segment.[4] 

Since buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist and important for opioid use disorder treatment, drug screening laboratories must be able to distinguish between buprenorphine metabolites and other opioids. However, there can be false positives for substance abuse, especially in hair samples.

Naloxone: Fast-Acting Opioid Antagonist

While buprenorphine can still be quite active in the system days after it’s taken, naloxone’s half-life is between 2 and 12 hours.

By itself, naloxone is used to temporarily stop opioid overdoses. When added to Suboxone, it prevents buprenorphine from becoming bioavailable if Suboxone is tampered with, or taken through a route that is not appropriate, for example if someone injects it or snorts it. It is active in the body for between 30 and 90 minutes.

When naloxone by itself is taken, about 40 percent is metabolized out of the body in about 6 hours.[5] Within three days (72 hours), all naloxone metabolites will have been excreted from the body, except for the hair.

Suboxone Supports Recovery by Staying Active in the Body for Hours

If you completely stop taking Suboxone, there will be no trace of this medication, except in your hair, after 5 to 8 days (120 to 210 hours). People with liver impairment may take longer to fully clear buprenorphine, but after about 14 days, even people with serious liver impairment have cleared buprenorphine.

Naloxone will completely metabolize out of the body well before buprenorphine does.

Although Suboxone is detectable on drug tests, taking this medication during opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment does not mean you are abusing drugs. In fact, it is considered therapeutic. If you take a drug test with a current or potential employer, inform them that you take Suboxone under the guidance of a doctor, to treat a medical issue.

SOURCES

  1. How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System? Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/long-suboxone-stay-system-3535350/. March 2020. Accessed February 2022. 
  2. Buprenorphine. DrugBank Online. https://go.drugbank.com/drugs/DB00921. Accessed February 2022. 
  3. Rapid Identification of Buprenorphine in Patient Saliva. Journal of Analytical & Bioanalytical Techniques. https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/rapid-identification-of-buprenorphine-in-patient-saliva-2155-9872-1000368.php?aid=90955. June 2017. Accessed February 2022. 
  4. Buprenorphine and Nor-Buprenorphine Levels in Head Hair Samples from Former Heroin Users Under Suboxone® Treatment. Drug Testing and Analysis. https://analyticalsciencejournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/dta.1611. May 2014. Accessed February 2022. 
  5. Naloxone Prescriptions. Pharmaca.com. https://www.pharmacarx.com/pharmacy-services/naloxone-prescriptions-seattle/. Accessed February 2022.

Medically Reviewed By Claire Wilcox, MD

Claire Wilcox, MD, is a general and addiction psychiatrist in private practice and an associate professor of translational neuroscience at the Mind Research Network in New Mexico; and has completed an addictions fellowship, psychiatry residency, and internal medicine residency. Having done extensive research in the area, she is an expert in the neuroscience of substance use disorders. Although she is interested in several topics in medicine and psychiatry, with a particular focus on substance use disorders, obesity, eating disorders, and chronic pain, her primary career goal is to help promote recovery and wellbeing for people with a range of mental health challenges.

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