How Long Does Buprenorphine Stay in Your System?

Buprenorphine in Your Blood, Urine, Hair, & Saliva

Buphenorphine pills

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In This Article

Buprenorphine is in a class of medications called opioid partial agonist-antagonists. It is used in transdermal patches and buccal films for people who need round-the-clock medication for pain who can't be treated with other medications. It is also used to prevent withdrawal symptoms for patients who stop taking opioid drugs by producing similar effects to these drugs. Buprenorphine is also known as Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone), Subutex, Belbuca, Buprenex, Butrans, Temgesic, and Bupe 

Learning how it acts in your system and what interactions there can be with other drugs can help understand precautions and how to prevent an overdose.

How Long Does Buprenorphine Stay in Your System?

Blood: Up to two days

Urine: Up to six days

Saliva: Up to three days

Hair: Up to 90 days

How Long Does It Take to Feel Effects?

Buprenorphine, which works by activating opioid receptors in the brain, is a partial agonist, this effect is less pronounced than in the case of opioids such as methadone and heroin. Activating the brain's opioid receptors results in a reduction in opiate withdrawal symptoms. Essentially, the drug satisfies the brain's need for opiates while avoiding the euphoric effects of opiate drugs. 

The amount of time it takes to begin feeling the effects of this medication varies depending on your body's individual factors. Buprenorphine reaches peak blood concentration levels in about 40 minutes to three and a half hours. 

Once you have taken a dose of the medication, the effects can last for up to three days.

The effects of buprenorphine are on the opioid pain receptors in the brain and spinal cord. But it also depresses the respiratory centers of the brain. It produces pinpoint pupils. It reduces the motility of the gut, which can lead to constipation. It also is a vasodilator and so it can produce flushed skin, sweating, and feeling faint when you get up after lying down or sitting.

How Long Does Buprenorphine Last?

Buprenorphine has a long half-life of 24 to 42 hours. It is broken down by the liver and excreted in the bile and kidneys into the urine and feces. For the combination product Suboxone, the naloxone has a shorter elimination period with an elimination half-life from 2 to 12 hours.

Buprenorphine is a powerful, long-lasting opioid and even if you take it according to your doctor's instructions, you must be monitored for possible severe reactions, especially when first taking buprenorphine or when the dosage is changed.

The FDA website contains Medication Guides for many of the brand names of buprenorphine-containing products. You should consult your doctor or these guides for specific precautions, restrictions, and further information for each product.

There are many drug interactions with buprenorphine that can lead to severe and possibly fatal reactions. Do not drink alcohol or take any medications that include alcohol white taking buprenorphine. Do not take any street drugs.

While you need to discuss all medications, supplements, vitamins, and over-the-counter drugs with your doctor, these are the ones of the strongest concern: benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Librium, Klonopin, Valium, Diastat, Ativan, Restoril, Halcion and all others), muscle relaxants, sedatives, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, pain medications, and medications for mental illness and nausea.

Testing for Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has a different metabolite (norbuprenorphine) than commonly abused opioids and it may not be tested for on a urine or saliva drug screen such as used for employment. However, testing for it has become more common.

If you have been prescribed buprenorphine or the combination product Suboxone, you should disclose it to the testing laboratory so your results can be properly interpreted. It may be detected in the urine for as long as 6 days, but even longer depending on individual metabolism.

Lab tests usually involve the use of gas chromatography or liquid chromatography methods. However, standard drug screenings used by employers are not able to detect this substance. It may be detected in a targeted opioid urine screen or a specific buprenorphine urine screen.

Blood, saliva, and hair testing can also detect buprenorphine, but such methods are used infrequently.

Factors That Affect Detection Time

There are a number of different variables that can influence how long it takes for your body to metabolize and eliminate buprenorphine. Some of the factors that can play a role in how long a substance remains in your system include:

  • Age
  • Liver impairment
  • Hydration levels
  • Body mass
  • Overall health

Trying to estimate exactly how long buprenorphine is detectable in the body depends on many variables, including which type of formulation of the drug is used, whether it is in combination with other drugs, and individual metabolism.

How to Get Buprenorphine Out of Your System

While buprenorphine is not detected by standard screenings, it is possible that an employer may conduct a specific test designed to detect the substance. In such cases, it is important to know that you are within your rights to use the drug as long as you have a prescription.

If you want to get this substance out of your system, the first step is to stop taking the medication. If you stop using buprenorphine suddenly, you may have withdrawal symptoms.

If you do want to speed up how quickly the drug is metabolized and eliminated from your system, make sure that you get regular exercise, follow a healthy diet, and drink plenty of water. Such actions may help improve your body's metabolic rate.

Symptoms of Overdose

Symptoms of a buprenorphine overdose can include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slowed breathing

If you suspect someone has overdosed on buprenorphine, call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call 9-1-1.

Getting Help

While it is possible to become dependent upon buprenorphine, it is less addictive than other opioids such as morphine and heroin. Managed use of the substance allows people to slowly taper off their dose as they go through treatment.

Buprenorphine withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of other opiate drugs but usually milder. Common symptoms can include nausea, headaches, flu-like symptoms, body aches, mood swings, and difficulty sleeping. The worst of these symptoms usually pass in the first three to five days, but milder symptoms may continue for a few weeks.

If you are concerned about your buprenorphine use, talk to your doctor about other treatment options for opioid addiction. This may involve switching to another type of medication-assisted treatment or using psychological strategies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or contingency management (CM) to support your long-term recovery.

If you need help finding treatment resources, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357 or utilize their online treatment locator.

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Article Sources

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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