Pathways Wellness

How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?

How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?
Raul Haro
November 15, 2023
For those in treatment for opioid addiction, they may ask themselves, “How long does Suboxone stay in my system?” It's a perfectly valid question to ask, as it can be scary to need medication-assisted treatment (MAT). There can be a lot of uncertainty around opioid addiction treatment, especially for someone who is just learning about […]
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How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?

For those in treatment for opioid addiction, they may ask themselves, “How long does Suboxone stay in my system?” It's a perfectly valid question to ask, as it can be scary to need medication-assisted treatment (MAT). There can be a lot of uncertainty around opioid addiction treatment, especially for someone who is just learning about it. 

The general public needs to be educated about the risks of opioid addiction and how it is treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021, more than 75% of drug overdose deaths involved an opioid. Opioids are a class of drugs that derive from or mimic the natural substances found in the opium poppy plant. This substance, when used in medical settings, relaxes the body and relieves pain. However, it can also cause feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Some opioids are legal but strictly controlled and prescribed by doctors, such as oxycodone and morphine. Others are illegal, such as heroin.

Regardless of whether it's prescribed by a doctor or obtained from someone on the street, opioids are highly addictive. Even with all the care and prevention done between a doctor and a patient, someone can still become addicted to opioids. Opioids can be painful to detox from and require the oversight of a medical professional to do so safely. To aid in the recovery process, sometimes a person may be given Suboxone, a semi-synthetic opioid. This drug can and has helped many people recover from opioid addiction, but again, many wonder what to expect from it.

At Pathways Wellness Center, care is taken to give every client the best chance of success when it comes to recovery. We are dedicated to not only helping people recover from addiction but educating the public about addiction as well. People cannot ask for help if they don't know that they need it. It's always okay to ask questions from a qualified mental health care professional. One such question is, “How long does Suboxone stay in my system?” To answer that, people first must understand what Suboxone is and how it can help.

What Exactly Is Suboxone?

As mentioned, Suboxone (its brand name) is a semi-synthetic opioid used to help treat opioid addiction. It's a combination of two other drugs, buprenorphine and naloxone. When used under the supervision of a medical professional, it reduces the severity of opioid withdrawal symptoms. This is important, as opioids are difficult to detox from because of how severe withdrawal symptoms can be. When Suboxone is used, it makes detoxing much more comfortable and safe for the client. 

Suboxone is made up of two other drugs working together. Each drug plays an important role in how the medicine works. Buprenorphine is an opioid, and its job is to trick the brain into thinking that it has satisfied its craving for opioids. It does this by incompletely binding to the opioid receptors in the brain. This incomplete binding doesn't give the client the strong feelings of euphoria and other effects of opioid use, but it does satisfy the craving. It also prevents other opioids from binding to these receptors. Since buprenorphine can stay on the opioid receptors for around three days, it helps people manage their craving to use opioids.

Naloxone is used to prevent and discourage misuse since buprenorphine is an opioid. It's an opioid blocker or an “opioid antagonist.” When taken as prescribed (orally), the naloxone won't do anything. However, if someone attempts to inject Suboxone to abuse it, the naloxone will activate and cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. When not used as a part of Suboxone, naloxone is used as a medicine to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. 

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in the System?

When asking, “How long does Suboxone stay in the system?” it's important to keep in mind that there are several factors involved. Some of these factors are beyond a person's control.  

The metabolism rate is one such factor. This refers to the chemical (metabolic) process that converts food and drinks into energy. It also refers to how quickly the body processes medicine. Some medicines will take longer to break down than others. Someone with a slow metabolism will have the drug stay in the system longer compared to someone with a fast metabolism. Body fat percentage and hydration rates also influence how long Suboxone will stay in someone's system. For those with high body fat or who are dehydrated, Suboxone will stay in the system longer. 

How long does Suboxone linger in the system? It also depends on a person's overall health and age. The older someone is, the longer it takes to metabolize and flush out the Suboxone. Health also matters, especially regarding the liver and digestive system. The liver is the organ in the body that has several functions. It filters blood, metabolizes proteins and hormones, stores vitamins and glycogen, and produces bile. Naloxone, in particular, is the part of Suboxone that is metabolized by the liver. If the liver has difficulty functioning, it takes longer for Suboxone to leave the system.

How long someone has had opioid addiction can also influence how long Suboxone will stay in the body. The longer someone has abused opioids, the longer the detox process will take. Since Suboxone is used to treat withdrawal and craving symptoms, it must be present throughout the entire detox process. Once the detox for the opioid is finished, the client then has to detox from the Suboxone. How long Suboxone lingers in the body will also depend on the size of the last dose and how long a person needs to use Suboxone.

Detection Windows: Different Testing Methods

There are a few methods by which opioids and Suboxone can be detected in the system. These are urine, blood, saliva, and hair follicle tests. People may have heard of these methods being used in places of employment where employees are tested for drug use. In addiction treatment, it's used to monitor how quickly the drug is leaving the system. Some tests are more sensitive than others. How long does Suboxone last in their system? A test can give a medical professional a rough idea of when it will leave someone's system.

For urine tests, a person urinates into a collection container, which is then run through a testing panel. Sometimes, consuming specific items or substances beforehand can give a false positive. For example, eating a baked good with poppy seeds can give a false positive for opioid use. Because of this, some urine drug screens will have cut-off levels and only consider it a true positive if it's over a certain level. Buprenorphine can be detected in the urine for up to six days but will show up longer if Suboxone has been used heavily.

Blood tests involve a doctor drawing a measure of blood and testing it for the presence of drugs. However, since blood tests are invasive, they aren't used as frequently as other drug testing methods. Suboxone can stay in the blood for up to two days after use but will be detectable within two to 12 hours after the last dose. Saliva tests are not invasive and are quick to administer. They can detect Suboxone use up to 10 days after it was last used. It can also detect the presence of buprenorphine within minutes after its last use. 

The hair follicle test is not used often, as it requires a lot of complicated technical analysis. However, it's the most accurate drug test currently available. It can detect the Suboxone for up to three months after its last use. The advantage of a hair follicle test is that it can give someone a comprehensive overview of how well they are recovering from their opioid addiction. Once a hair follicle test comes back negative, they know that they have successfully detoxed from opioids, and it's no longer present in their system.

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in the System: The Pharmacokinetics Involved

Other aspects of Suboxone use need to be taken into consideration before someone asks, “How long does Suboxone stay in the system?” They need to consider how it's taken, how it's absorbed, and how it leaves the body. Suboxone is taken by mouth, where it is then digested and absorbed through the stomach. It then travels into the bloodstream, where it reaches the brain. Buprenorphine is eventually metabolized and leaves the body in urine and feces. Naloxone is metabolized by the liver and leaves in the urine. 

It's also important to understand what it means for there to be an “elimination half-life” when it comes to medication. This refers to the amount of time it takes half of a single dose of a drug to leave the system. When examining Suboxone, one may notice that the buprenorphine half of the drug persists for much longer than the naloxone half. The elimination half-life of buprenorphine tends to be between 24 to 42 hours. Naloxone is much shorter, with an elimination half-life between two to 12 hours. 

Liver health matters a lot in how long it can take Suboxone to fully leave the system. Healthy people can expect Suboxone to be found six to 12 days after the last dose. Those with liver disease or decreased liver function can have Suboxone detected for up to 14 days, sometimes even longer. Suboxone itself has effects that last for 24 hours.

Possible Side Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms of Suboxone

Since Suboxone is an opioid, it does have side effects, and users can experience withdrawal symptoms. That's why it's so important for those using Suboxone for addiction recovery to only use it under the supervision of a doctor. They should never suddenly stop taking Suboxone and should be slowly weaned off the medication under close medical supervision. Clients should also speak to their doctor before using Suboxone, as it can negatively interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medications. 

How long does Suboxone give someone withdrawal symptoms? The short answer is that it varies from person to person. People can experience withdrawal symptoms up to a month after they stop taking Suboxone. Generally, withdrawal symptoms vary but can be understood as follows:

  • Three days after last use: Physical symptoms at the worst they can be, including muscle and body aches, nausea and vomiting, fever or chills, and sweating and headaches
  • One week after last use: Insomnia and trouble sleeping, body aches, and mood swings
  • Two weeks after last use: Feelings of depression, irritability, and anxiety
  • One month after last use: Cravings and feelings of depression

How long does Suboxone give someone side effects? That also depends. Typically, the more common side effects will ease within a few days to a week after use when the body gets used to the drug. Sometimes, side effects will persist or be more severe depending on someone's bodily makeup.

Common side effects of Suboxone include:

  • Nausea, constipation, and vomiting
  • Mouth redness or burning mouth syndrome
  • Peripheral edema (swelling of your hands or lower legs)
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headaches 
  • Numbness or loss of sensation in a part of your body
  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms (Suboxone tricks the body into feeling satisfied, but fewer opioids are present, causing withdrawal symptoms)

Long-term Suboxone use can cause some serious side effects, some of which are:

  • Respiratory and central nervous system depression
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Increased pressure on the brain
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Liver damage, including hepatitis and pressure on the biliary tract
  • Serious opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Dental problems
  • Orthostatic hypotension

How Long Does Suboxone Last in the System? Pathways Wellness Center Can Help

One place in which people can find comprehensive and holistic opioid addiction treatment is Pathways Wellness Center. Here, we offer two outpatient rehab programs designed to help clients recover safely. These are the partial hospitalization program (PHP) and the intensive outpatient program (IOP). Both are designed to meet the individual's specific needs when it comes to addiction treatment. Clients can utilize a wide range of therapies, some conventional, such as psychotherapy, and some unique, such as adventure therapy

Suboxone is sometimes a part of treatment, but not always. To help guide those who do need it, Pathways Wellness Center offers a medication management program to help those who require MAT. In general, MAT is a temporary measure. Clients don't have to worry about managing their care and follow-up, as both are part of a personalized treatment plan. How long does Suboxone need to be taken as part of treatment? It depends on the individual, but Pathways Wellness Center works closely with clients to give them an accurate timetable for treatment.

Pathways Wellness Center doesn't just help clients recover from opioid addiction. We also help people fully detox from Suboxone. It's important, as the goal of any client at Pathways Wellness Center is to return to normal life. Pathways Wellness Center also offers relapse prevention training, as even though Suboxone is used for treatment, it can still be addictive. With compassionate staff, some of whom are in recovery themselves, we can smoothly transition clients between treatments. It allows clients to focus on their treatments with minimal stress.

Suboxone in the Recovery Journey

Medications can be complicated at the best of times. It's okay to still be confused about Suboxone and opioid treatment. Mental health care professionals spend years working to understand MAT so they can answer questions. No mental health care professional will be angry if someone asks them, “How long does Suboxone take to help me recover from my addiction?” or “I'm trying to transition back into employment; how long does Suboxone stay in my body?” It shows that someone is willfully asking for help.

How long does Suboxone take to work? Again, it depends, but nobody has to undergo treatment alone or figure it out themselves. At Pathways Wellness Center, compassionate and understanding staff are standing by to assist all who ask for help. For those who are currently struggling or have a loved one struggling with an opioid addiction, have hope. Anyone can recover from an addiction with the right quality treatment, time, and the drive to overcome the struggle. 

Suboxone is a fixed-dose combination medicine that is used to help people recover from opioid addiction and opioid use disorder. Sometimes, it's used as part of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and can greatly lower the mortality rate of opioid addiction. Here at Pathways Wellness Center in Glendora, California, we utilize several treatment options to help our clients recover from addiction. Sometimes, that can include MAT, which can make recovery safer and more comfortable. Our compassionate and caring staff are always willing to answer questions related to treatment, including Suboxone and other medications. If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, don't wait to get help. Call us today at(888) 771-0966.

About the Author

Raul Haro
Raul Haro is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with sixteen years of experience working in both the inpatient and outpatient setting. As an LMFT, He has trained in trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. Raul has furthered his training in the drug and alcohol field by obtaining a Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling through CCAPP. Raul has a background in nursing where he has been an LVN for over 25 years. Recently, he has returned to school to complete a degree in Registered Nursing. Future plans are for Raul are to eventually complete a degree as a Nurse Practitioner combining his therapy practice with his nursing skills.

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