Friday March 27th 2015

How long does buprenorphine stay in your system?

How long does buprenorphine stay in your system?

Buprenorphine is detectable in urine up to 4 days after ingestion. With a long half life (24-60 hours) and slow onset, buprenorphine is becoming the preferred medication for opiate addiction treatment. But it is unlikely that you will be drug tested for buprenorphine.


More on buprenorphine bio-availability, treatment protocols and tracking of opiate use here.

What is buprenorphine used for?

Buprenorphine is used in the treatment of opioid addiction. Doctors can prescribe a number of meds for opiate detox and long term control of cravings.  Buprenorphine is used for both.

As an opioid partial agonist, buprenorphine activates mu-opioid receptors in the brain enough to prevent withdrawal symptoms but not enough to induce a high. So the risk of addiction to buprenorphine is rather low when compared to other opioids.  And longer term use of buprenorphine to manage cravings also helps keep people in treatment.

These effects occur because buprenorphine has been designed to have a “ceiling effect”. So doses higher than 16-32 mg are unlikely to produce greater effect. As a result, buprenorphine helps keep patients in treatment, reduces illicit opioid use and reduces mortality caused by harder drug use (heroin, OxyContin, morphine, etc.).

How do you take buprenorphine?

Buprenorphine is taken as a sublingual tablet.

Currently, only two forms of buprenorphine are approved for treatment of opioid addiction. Other forms of buprenorphine (ex. Buprenex) have not been approved by the FDA to treat opioid addiction. Medications containing buprenorphine that have been designed to decrease the potential for abuse by injection and have FDA approval include:

1. Subutex
2. Suboxone

Help finding Suboxone doctors.

Peak levels and half life of buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has poor oral bioavailability and moderate sublingual bioavailability. Why? Partly because buprenorphine is highly bound to plasma proteins.  Because of an extensive first pass in metabolism, buprenorphine has both slow onset and long duration (24-48 hours). Futhermore, the rate of absorption of buprenorphine is slower by the sublingual route, giving an average peak level at approximately 200 minutes after ingestion.

Likewise, buprenorphine has slow offset, and the half life of buprenorphine is greater than 24 hours (24-60 hours). This formula allows for once a day or every other day dosing when treating opiate addiction.

Buprenorphine drug testing

Currently, no precise test measures buprenorphine, although it can be detected in urine, blood, or hair by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in urine. Until new, commercially available tests are developed, drug tests for people receiving buprenorphine aim to detect OTHER substances of abuse.

In fact, opiate drug tests aren’t personal; they are just a way to track your recovery progress. Testing for buprenorphine or other opiates helps prescribing doctors detect substance use, adjust dosage, and monitor treatment compliance. Therefore, drug tests initiated by clinics or doctors who prescribe buprenorphine can provide both an objective measure of treatment efficacy and be used as a tool to monitor your progress.

How long does buprenorphine stay in the body?

Opioids like buprenorphine are synthetically manufactured drugs, which means that they are not directly refined from the poppy plant. While the chemical structures are the same as opiates, detecting synthetic opioids requires a lower sensitivity detection level than their natural counterparts. The average detection time for opioids like buprenorphine is around 3 days (2-4 day detection window in urine samples) but may be longer for chronic users.

Buprenorphine and addiction

People most at risk of becoming addiction to buprenorphine are those who HAVE NOT been previously physically addicted to opioids, or those who take buprenorphine other than prescribed (swallowed, chewed, snorted, injected). These users are more at risk of addiction because they tend to feel stronger euphoric effect of buprenorphine than those who take buprenorphine for medical reasons.

Problems with buprenorphine?

If you think that you have a problem and are misusing buprenorphine…you need to ask yourself if you are ready to stop, or not. Drug addiction treatment requires the full participation of addicts in order to be successful. Please leave us your questions and comments below. We welcome all experiences, will keep your comments anonymous and will respond to legitimate questions or concerns personally.

Reference sources: What is buprenorphine? CSAT buprenorphine information center
Northen Illinois University student handout: Drug Screening and Your Career
SAMHSA/CSAT Treatment Improvement Protocols: Chapter 9, Drug Testing as a Tool
NIDA Monograph Series: Buprenorphine: An Alternative Treatment for Opioid Dependence

Photo credit: MinimalistPhotography101

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19 Responses to “How long does buprenorphine stay in your system?
4:34 pm November 20th, 2012

If they have no testing for it, how do you know how long it stays in you’re system, and it’s been a year since this post so do they no in 2012 test for it in a hospital enviroment urine test. The doctor ordered a urine test from the lab not a dip stick?

jennifer r
5:03 pm June 26th, 2013

I beg to differ buphrenorphine showed on my test 2 weeks after ingestion!!!!

8:58 pm October 10th, 2013

how long before a quarter of 8mg tablet (2mgs) leaves your system, and will it show up in drug test for employment??

10:24 pm July 29th, 2014

I took 4mg of suboxone a on a wednesday then that saturday i took an 8mg. I do not do suboxone on a normal basis it had been around 4 months since i had taken any. well i have a drug test thursday what is my chances of passing. i am 5ft 3in 130lbs fairly active.

12:16 pm August 3rd, 2014

I’ve been on suboxone for about a yr with no script. My ex gave them to me for a minor opiate addiction I incurred because of spinal issues. He was controlling, I let him be this way, said he’d rather have me on sub than using the pain pills I had legitimately prescribed. I didn’t know a thing about this drug other than what he told me. For about 8mo I was splitting a 8mg strip daily (4mg a day) but then started taking 8 mg (4mg x2) daily the past few months. I don’t know what I was thinking. I didn’t get high from it. Just became kind of habitual to do a half (twice a day) and have a smoke while dissolving. I’ve since broken up with him, and have 1 1/2 strips left. I’ve been taking 1/4 a day since Monday. Is there any possible way that I can ween off with what I have? I have kids, and need to be functional. I want nothing else than to get back to where I was in life before I met him and that includes no suboxone! Or pills! Started working out, building my core muscles, and it has relieved my back pain enough that OTC meds help my pain now. I hope to hear back. Thank you.

8:43 pm August 11th, 2014

i was using 20mg of Nalbuphin injection 3 time in a singal day daily from last 6 months. then i use buprenorphine 0.2mg injection daily from last 60 days to leave Nalbuphin ADDICTION. my question is that now how can i gett off from buprenorphine . i want to clean. if i do not take this i feel bad whole day.

1:19 pm August 12th, 2014

Hi Osama, Here is an article related to your question that I believe may be helpful:

1:33 pm August 12th, 2014

I had been on Lorazepam 1mg. twice a day. This dose was a reduction from a higher dose before that .My doctor reduced my dose to .5 mg once a day. This was about two weeks ago. I also stopped taking gabapentin about a week ago. I am experiencing some withdrawal symptoms now from the reduction of these medicines. I don’t see my psychiatrist until next week and I see my primary Dr. tomorrow. What can I do to make these feelings of anxiety, nausea, early morning waking, etc. to be lessened. Thank you.

6:24 pm August 15th, 2014

If I took 8 mgs twice a day for two days, aug 13 and aug 14 will I test positive for suboxone on Tue Aug 19th if that’s all I took I’m over a yrar

2:34 pm September 22nd, 2014

I would like to know if, and when my doctor urine tests me to confirm that my suboxone levels are where they should be, if I’m not on any other medications… does this test detect any other non-opioid medicines? Such as: effexor, and doxepin? Or, is this test specifically designated to only measure bupenorephine level? Please respond. Thanks.

9:57 am September 26th, 2014

Hello Jimi. A simple urine test will only point out the presence of a parent drug or its metabolites. The level of drug or its metabolites is not predictive of when the drug was taken or how much the patient used.

5:42 am September 27th, 2014

Hello, Ivana.
I understand what you’re saying.
But, when I went to see my suboxone doctor the last time, he was, I believe… able to detect the level of buprenorphine in my system. As he went on to explain that I was only using about 1 strip a day. He prescribes me 60 a month. 2 strips daily. How could he tell what my levels are in my blood from a urine test? All I know is that he sends my urine samples out to a company called, Lab corp. I also don’t know if the test that involves using gases to detect buprenorphine levels in the system are derived from a urine sample? If it is, thats what he must be ordering to be done by lab Corp. Again, I’m just speculating. If not, is my doctor lying to me, when He’s sitting there looking at the computer screen… and telling me that I’m not taking enough of my suboxone? Please help. Thanks.

11:39 am September 30th, 2014

Hi againg Jimi. Yes, your doctor can know for sure. In many cases, the doctor uses a certain mathematical formula based on the prescribing frequency, the dosage, the person’s age, weight, health and etc. to figure out an estimate range that the patient’s levels should fall in. Anything that goes much higher or lower than that range alerts them to a possible problem.

3:16 pm October 26th, 2014

First time i used butran patch on back….i took off because it made me itch, nausea, & threw up several times. How long till i feel better after removing patch…ive used only this one time. How long till out of my system & feeling better? please reply back asap. thx. Annette

12:08 pm October 28th, 2014

Hello Annette. The effect or side effects of the patch can last for up to 30 hours after removing it. But, you removed it earlier, so I’d say it would take about 24 horus before you stop feeling the effects.

11:51 pm January 12th, 2015

No on really knows the answer to the suboxone Questions.The effect the nausea the extememity of it all.Soboxone works great when used properaly! I belive thatSuboxone last 24 days in your system. everyone for gets the half live as well. In which Is 36 hours.So good luck figuring it out! if anyone comes up with the salution please leave a message

5:48 am February 18th, 2015

I was on Suboxone for 2 years. 3 a day for 1 1/2 years and 2 a day for the other half year. I tried to quit cold turkey a few weeks ago and Im not doing well. Since I was on such high doses is it possible that it will take longer than 30 days for the subs to not show up in my urine when they lab it? I could really use an answer to this question. Thank you for your time.

5:45 pm March 6th, 2015

I take suboxone every day for the last 2yrs, yet my last 3 urine test came up 2 of them being negative and one came up as contains only raw buprenorphine. I dont understand why? the only thing I can think is the lab they send the test to is some how messing up. The test that came up with the raw buperrnorphine they did a Tricyclic screen LC/MS/MS. Can you give me any explination to how this could happen?

3:42 pm March 12th, 2015

Hello Bonnie. Labs are not always 100% accurate and human mistakes do happen. But, three times in a row is not common. Are you taking any other medications? If you are, you should give the lab a full list of medicines, so the lab can see if there may be some sort of interaction. Also, you can request a hair follicle test, which can detect buprenorphine more accurately.

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