For people suffering from acute pain, opiate misuse or opioid use disorder, and for many, Suboxone is a life-saving prescription-only medicine. However, for other individuals, this controlled substance (classed: Schedule III) can prove just as addicting as the opioids it attempts to replace.
In 2018, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) announced it had approved generic versions of Suboxone, thereby increasing its accessibility for people needing treatment, those with lower incomes, and those relying on insurance companies that prefer to pay for generics instead of brand-name drugs.
Suboxone is available as a sublingual film that’s placed underneath the patient’s tongue. The two ingredients in Suboxone are:
Buprenorphine blocks the brain’s opioid receptors and produces a weaker but similar feeling to heroin or morphine. Together with naloxone, these substances prevent withdrawal symptoms typically faced by a person suffering from opioid addiction.
Before 2000, addicts could only receive this type of treatment at a methadone clinic. Since 2003, suboxone misuse and abuse has risen.
In 2000, the Drug Addiction Treatment Act was passed in Congress, paving the way for most medical professionals, including nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, to offer Suboxone treatment for opioid use disorder maintenance.
But how long does this drug remain in your body? Many factors contribute to Suboxone’s efficacy, one of which is the drug’s half-life — or how long it takes for half of the Suboxone to be completely eliminated from the body. If you suspect you may have an addiction to Suboxone, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Urine, Blood, Saliva, and Hair?
The liver metabolizes Suboxone into metabolites called norbuprenorphine, and this can be detected in blood, saliva, hair, and urine tests. This metabolite has an incredibly long half-life — as long as 150 hours from the last dose. How fast your body eliminates a substance is known as your metabolism speed.
- Urine tests: Up to 14 days
- Blood tests: Up to 86 hours
- Saliva tests: 5 days
- Hair tests: Up to 90 days or longer (in the hair follicles)
Suboxone may require a special test that looks for its metabolites.
What Can Affect How Long Suboxone Stays in Your Body?
It can take as long as nine days for Suboxone to be completely eliminated from your body, but this time varies between individuals. How long Suboxone will stay in your system depends on your:
- Frequency of use
- Liver health
- Use of other substances while taking Suboxone
How long Suboxone stays in your system also depends on the amount of time you’ve been using it. If you’re young, in good physical shape, and have a fast metabolism, your body metabolizes Suboxone faster than someone who’s older with a slower metabolic rate.
Do you know the treatment options for Suboxone misuse and addiction? If you’re concerned about Suboxone, or the length of time you’ve used it, call Zinnia Health at (855) 430-9439 to speak with our caring staff.
How Is Suboxone Detected on Drug Tests?
Once ingested, Suboxone’s two ingredients, buprenorphine and naloxone, are metabolized by the body. Buprenorphine isn’t necessarily detectable and can be found by a drug test, such as a urinalysis. Naloxone, while it isn’t a substance known for abuse (because it’s mainly to stave off an opioid overdose), it is not typically included in drug screens unless the screen is being used to ensure a Suboxone recipient is maintaining their treatment.
What is Suboxone’s Half-Life?
The body breaks down Suboxone into buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine’s half-life is rather long, lasting up to 42 hours. Once five half-lives elapse, the drug should be eliminated from the body.
However, how long it takes to be completely eliminated from the body is different for everyone due to differences in body chemistry and other factors.
Naloxone’s half-life is much shorter — between two and 12 hours. It stays in the system for as many as 60 hours. Naloxone on its own isn’t considered a substance that’s abused so it isn’t typically included in drug tests.
How Long Does It Take for the Effects of Suboxone to Wear Off?
When used as intended, Suboxone can help opiate addicts get clean, especially when included in an overall treatment program which includes behavior therapy and one-on-one or group counseling.
It’s an effective drug for opioid dependence but can also be addictive, so it’s important that medical professionals oversee the tapering off or stopping Suboxone doses. Some withdrawal symptoms typically experienced include:
- Muscle aches
- General body aches
- Mood swings
- Fever and chills
- Excessive sweating
If you’ve recently tapered your dose or stopped taking Suboxone entirely, you might wonder how long its effects will last. Suboxone withdrawal symptoms typically abate within a month. However, people can still remain psychologically dependent after the physical withdrawal symptoms have stopped.
The worst symptoms usually occur within the first three days of stopping doses. After those three days, the person may feel general aches or pains throughout the body, unable to sleep, and experience sudden changes in mood.
In the second and third weeks of withdrawal, depression plays a major role.
At the one-month mark, the depression and potentially intense cravings for the drug will still hang around. It is around the 30th day when recovering Suboxone users have the most significant potential to relapse.
Zinnia is Your Partner in Healing
Suboxone is one of the most wonderful inventions for opiate and opioid addicts, but it has the potential for misuse and substance abuse like any other drug of this type.
If you or someone you love suffers from Suboxone addiction, seeking treatment is the best path forward. As with most substances, Suboxone withdrawal is long and unpleasant. Physical withdrawal signs may ease over a month, but psychological dependence and cravings can last several months.