Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, is a type of medication called an opioid agonist that is used for treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). This medication works by blocking the opioid receptors in your brain to ease withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse. It is similar to opioids, yet unless taken in excessive amounts, cannot produce the same euphoric qualities that opioids create.
Suboxone can be abused, just as any other opioid, though it takes much more effort. When taken as directed by a medical professional, suboxone is a helpful form of medication assisted treatment (MAT) that helps wean people off of opioid dependence. The effects of suboxone will typically last about 24 hours, and the medication is usually administered just once per day.
Suboxone can show up on certain drug tests since it is similar to opioids, though it typically requires a specialized test that can detect suboxone. Compared to other opioids, the buprenorphine in suboxone has an especially long elimination half-life. This refers to the amount of time it takes for half of a single dose of any drug to leave your body.
For buprenorphine, this takes between 24 to 42 hours, and it takes 5 half-lives for a substance to completely leave your body, so it can take between 7 to 9 days for buprenorphine to completely leave your body. Naloxone, the other ingredient in suboxone, has a half-life of 2 to 12 hours, so it can stay in your body for up to 60 hours.
In most healthy patients, no trace of the suboxone used in opioid treatment programs will be present after 120 to 210 hours, or 5 to 8 days. During the process of metabolizing suboxone, your liver creates metabolites that stay in the body even longer than the actual substance. This means that even once the actual medication has left your body, certain drug tests may still be able to pick up these metabolites and give you a positive test for buprenorphine even after the 7 to 9 days have elapsed.
There are many factors that influence how long metabolizing suboxone will take for your body. These factors include your age, weight, and metabolism speed, as well as the frequency of your suboxone use and the dosage. Other factors that can affect the length it takes for suboxone to leave your body are your liver health and whether you are combining suboxone with other medications or substances.
For those with moderate to severe liver disease, the half-life of both buprenorphine and naloxone become significantly prolonged, as the liver is unable to efficiently metabolize and eliminate the substances. In moderate liver impairment, the half-life of buprenorphine is increased by 35% and naloxone is increased by 165%. In severe liver impairment, the half-life of buprenorphine is increased by 57% and naloxone is increased by 122%.
This means that for people with moderate liver disease, it would take about 160 to 284 hours, or 6 to 12 days, for there to be no trace of suboxone in their system. For those suffering from severe liver disease, it would take approximately 188 to 330 hours, or 7 to 14 days, for suboxone to be completely eliminated from the body.
The length of time you may test positive for suboxone also depends on the type of drug test that is being given to you. Blood tests, although rare, can be used to detect suboxone as soon as 2 hours after your last dose, with this test being most effective when given shortly after ingestion of suboxone. Saliva tests can detect suboxone for a time period of a few days to a little over a week after your last dose.
Urine tests are the most commonly administered drug test, especially by employers. These tests can detect suboxone in your system for up to 2 weeks. With hair follicle drug tests, suboxone and its metabolites may be detected for up to 1 to 3 months, although these tests are considered less reliable.
Suboxone is a common treatment option to help those dealing with opioid use disorder. While it is beneficial to patients by easing withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings, it is by no means a cure for opioid misuse. Suboxone, as with all forms of medication assisted treatment, works best when combined with additional addiction treatment methods such as counseling and behavioral therapies, as well as support groups.
If you are suffering from opioid use disorder and would like to begin medication assisted treatment as part of a treatment program, contact Fusion Recovery to learn about treatment plans offered at our rehab facility. Although suboxone clinics do exist to prescribe patients with this medication, it is recommended to begin this treatment first at a rehab center so you can partake in a well-rounded treatment program that deals with all aspects of your opioid use disorder and teaches you better coping skills for the future.