Suboxone is a prescription drug that is often prescribed to treat opioid addiction. It can help relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, and for this reason it is often prescribed in the context of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders. Technically, Suboxone is actually a combination drug. It contains two different medications: buprenorphine and naloxone. It may come as a surprise to readers to learn that both medications are in fact opioids, even though they are designed to treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. However, even though buprenorphine and naloxone are opioids, they do not produce the same intense high as illicit opiates like heroin. While Suboxone is not as addictive as other opiates and it is less frequently sought out as a drug of abuse, as an opioid it does come with a number of risks. Understanding how long Suboxone stays in the body is essential to using or quitting the drug safely and effectively.
How is Suboxone Metabolized in the Body?
The primary component of Suboxone, buprenorphine, has a particularly long half-life, especially compared to other opioids. Half-life refers to the length of time it takes for 50% of a substance to be processed and eliminated by the body. However, it is important to understand that the remaining 50% usually takes significantly longer than the first half does. Buprenorphine’s half-life is approximately 37 hours. This means that it takes approximately a day and a half for a person to remove half of Suboxone from their system. Traces of Suboxone remain detectable in the body for roughly 8 days after they use the drug, as the body takes a bit longer to process the remaining 50%.
However, it is important to recognize that these are rough estimates. The amount of time it takes for a person to metabolize Suboxone varies considerably from person to person. A variety of factors affect the rate at which an individual flushes Suboxone out of their system. Some factors that influence Suboxone metabolism include:
- Weight and height
- Body fat content
- Metabolism speed
- Liver health
- Amount of time the person abused opioids
- Size of the last dose taken
- Frequency of Suboxone doses
The health of the liver is of paramount importance, since the liver is the primary organ that handles the processing of Suboxone. When Suboxone reaches the liver, the liver breaks it down into metabolites, chemical compounds that are formed as the body processes a drug. These metabolites are excreted in urine in the days after that. Suboxone metabolites remain in the body far longer than Suboxone itself does. These Suboxone traces can generally be detected from 8 to 14 days after a person last used Suboxone.
How Long Can Suboxone Be Detected on a Urine Test?
The most common type of drug testing kit used to detect Suboxone is the urine test. Urine tests are popular because they are affordable, widely available, and can be administered by just about anyone, including non-medical professionals. As such, they are the type of test most frequently used by employers and parents.
Suboxone becomes detectable on a urine test approximately 40 minutes after a person takes a dose of Suboxone. The amount of time Suboxone remains detectable in urine varies considerably from person to person. For someone who has only taken one small dose, it might be as short as 8 days. However, for individuals who take heavy doses of Suboxone or who have taken Suboxone for an extended period of time, the drug metabolites may be detectable in urine for up to 2 weeks after their last dose.
Other Drug Tests for Suboxone
While urine test kits are by far the most common type of test kit used, a variety of other testing kits can be used to detect Suboxone use. Blood tests, for instance, tend to be fairly accurate. While they may be less liable to error, they suffer from a reduced testing window. Blood tests are most effective 2 hours after a person’s last dose of Suboxone, but after much longer than that the metabolites leave the blood to be processed by the liver. Spit tests are also sometimes administered. These noninvasive tests are far simpler to administer, and while they do not have the same large testing window as urine tests, they can detect Suboxone use a bit longer than blood tests can.
Getting Help for Suboxone Abuse and Opioid Addiction
If you or a loved one is abusing Suboxone, it is important to get outside help. Design for Recovery, a structured sober living home for men located in West Los Angeles, is the ideal place for anyone hoping to recover from a substance use disorder. Our safe, comfortable, trigger-free facility provides young men with strong social support systems, new tools, and opportunities to build a new way of life. At Design for Recovery, we believe that recovery starts at physical abstinence, but we believe that staying sober requires — and is in fact an opportunity for — immense personal growth. Residents at Design for Recovery not only work daily to stay sober, but they take steps every day to build new lives for themselves that are joyous, prosperous, and above all free.
If you’re ready for a new approach to life, and you’re tired of the endless cycle of substance abuse, reach out to Design for Recovery today!