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How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?

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suboxone pills The question of how long any medication, including Suboxone, stays in your system is dependent upon a number of factors.

The half-life of the substance is a general guideline for how long you can expect the dose will remain active in your body, but this can be impacted by:

  • Your metabolism
  • Your weight
  • Other medications you are taking at the time
  • Use of illicit substances
  • Other factors

It can take hours for some medications to be processed completely out of your system, but for other drugs, it can take days or even weeks. Again, it’s all dependent upon the circumstance and may vary from person to person – even with Suboxone.


Every drug has a half-life. That is, when a patient takes his medication, there is a certain amount of time that it takes for his body to process the medication and rid itself of half of the dose. Based on the half-life for a specific medication, doctors determine the intervals at which patients should take their pills. If it is necessary to maintain an ongoing level of the substance in the system, the doctor asks the patient to take the next dose of the medication before the last dose has been processed out. The idea is that half of the first dose or more is out of the system at the time that the new dose is ingested and by the time that dose builds up close to therapeutic levels, the last dose has been processed out of the system enough to combine with the new dose and together provide benefit to the patient. This level of stasis is achieved by continually taking the medication at the same intervals throughout the day.

For example, the half-life of shorter-acting medications like Xanax means that the drug is at its therapeutic strength in the body relatively soon after ingestion, but within a couple of hours, the effects have faded to well below a therapeutic level. The doctor may prescribe the patient to take the drug multiple times per day in order to maintain a certain level of the drug in the system at all times.
For a drug like Suboxone, however, the half-life is far longer. A combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, buprenorphine has a half-life ranging from 24 to 42 hours, while naloxone has a half-life of two to 12 hours. Patients are often directed to take their dose once every two to three days in order to maintain the correct levels of the medication in the system.

Comparatively, methadone, another drug often prescribed to treat opiate dependence, has a half-life that ranges anywhere from 10 to 60 hours depending upon the formulation and dose.

Drug Tests

If you would like a definitive determination as to whether or not Suboxone is still in your system, you can use a drug test. It is important to note that many standard drug tests do not specifically look for Suboxone. For example, if you are concerned that your employer will be able to detect Suboxone in your system, it is unlikely that this will occur even with randomized drug testing. Few drug-screening panels look specifically for buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone. Even a test that is designed to pick up use of opiates like heroin and methadone will not detect buprenorphine.

Treatment Can Help

If you are concerned that your use of Suboxone is either the problem itself or no longer useful in helping you to stop abusing drugs and alcohol, reach out for treatment that will enable your long-term sobriety. Contact us at 760.548.4032 today.

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