In This Article
What Is Suboxone & Is It Addictive?
Suboxone is a brand name drug that is a blend of two different generic drugs: buprenorphine and naloxone. It is used to treat opioid use disorder. Suboxone is an opioid agonist, meaning it binds to the same opioid receptors in the brain and can reduce cravings, pain, anxiety, and opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Despite the risk of addiction, Suboxone is a safer drug than heroin and other opioids when used under a doctor’s supervision.
The risk of fatality is also far less than it is with heroin. This is because buprenorphine, which is the addictive component in Suboxone, has a much slower onset. It also has milder effects and a longer duration cycle than opioids, making it less addictive. Essentially, it doesn’t trigger the brain in the same addictive manner as heroin.
Naloxone, on the other hand, is not addictive and is activated only when an opioid is present in someone’s system. The drug counteracts the depressing effect of opioids on the central nervous system (CNS) and lungs, allowing the user to maintain normal breathing. Naloxone treats heroin and other opioid overdoses.
If someone does become addicted to Suboxone, he or she will experience:
- Changes in body temperature
- Abnormal skin sensations
- Muscle discomfort
- Drug cravings
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Irritability, moodiness, and anxiety
A Suboxone overdose is more likely to occur in people who have never taken opioids before. The symptoms of a Suboxone overdose are similar to those of other opioid overdoses. If available, Naloxone should be administered to help stop the overdose.
How Is Suboxone Metabolized?
Suboxone is metabolized in the liver and excreted through urination. The drug is absorbed into the blood and exposed to liver enzymes then released back into the blood filtered by the kidneys and excreted through urine.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?
Commonly used modern drug tests can detect Suboxone in your system for at least eight days, possibly longer. How long a drug is detectable varies from person to person based on a variety of factors, including:
- The dose of Suboxone
- Height and weight
- Existing liver conditions
- How fast your metabolism is
- How long the drug has been abused
- Amount of time between the drug test and the last suboxone use
The type of test also affects whether or not Suboxone is detectable in a person’s system. For instance, the drug remains in urine for up to six days. It remains in the blood for just two days, at the most. Therefore, a blood test would be less effective in determining whether or not a person is still using Suboxone.
Examples of drug screenings that can detect Suboxone include:
Suboxone is detectable in urine for up to six days. Urine tests are one of the most common types of tests because they are simple and inexpensive. It takes less than an hour for buprenorphine to become detectable in urine. In some heavy use cases, it might show up two weeks after the last use.
A hair test is one of the rarest types of drug tests. It requires a complicated technical analysis but it can detect Suboxone for up to 90 days after use. Hair follicle tests produce more accurate results than testing urine or blood. It also offers a more comprehensive view of whether or not someone is a Suboxone user.
A saliva test can detect Suboxone up to three to 10 days after use. This type of test is non-invasive and easy to administer and is a commonly used method of drug testing. A saliva test can detect buprenorphine within a few minutes of use.
Blood tests also detect Suboxone, but they are more invasive and not used as frequently. Suboxone stays in the blood for up to two days after use, but is most detectable within two to 12 hours after the last dose.
Half-Life of Buprenorphine
The half-life of a drug refers to the time it takes for a drug to reduce to half of its original value in the blood. It’s a way of estimating how long it takes for a drug to leave a person’s body.
If a drug has a half-life of two hours, the concentration of the drug will be half of what it was originally after two hours. After two more hours, it reduces by another half, making it a quarter of what it was originally.
The elimination half-life of buprenorphine is 24 to 42 hours. The elimination half-life of naloxone is two to 12 hours. In most healthy people, no trace of Suboxone would be found after 120 to 210 hours (5 to 8 days).
Treatment Options for Opioid Abuse & Addiction
Opioid use disorder is difficult to overcome. Fortunately, there are several options for help. These include:
- Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) — When it comes to medication-assisted therapy for opioid use disorder, there are three types approved: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Buprenorphine and methadone help manage withdrawal symptoms as you detox. Naltrexone blocks the receptors that opioids bind to, making it impossible to get high from them. Medication-assisted therapy is most effective when combined with other therapies.
- Inpatient Programs — Inpatient programs are the most intensive addiction treatment options. These programs guide you through medical supervised detoxification, behavioral therapy and other services such as medication-assisted therapy. They typically last 30, 60 or 90 days, but may be longer if necessary.
- Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs) — Intensive outpatient programs are the next level of addiction treatment, providing similar services to inpatient programs such as detoxification and behavioral therapy. The difference is that the patient will return home to sleep, and some programs will include transportation and meals. PHPs are ideal for both new patients as well as those who have completed inpatient treatment but still need intensive care.
- Outpatient Programs — Outpatient programs provide a well-rounded treatment program for people with a high motivation to recover. These programs are flexible and can be made around for your schedule, and can be customized to work best for you. These programs work for new patients as well as those that complete an inpatient or partial hospitalization program.
If you or a loved one has a problem with substance abuse, talk with a medical professional to find a treatment center that's right for you. Often times medically assisted addiction therapy is the best way to start recovery.