Does Suboxone Show Up On A Drug Test?

Does Suboxone Show Up On A Drug Test?


Suboxone will NOT show up on a routine drug test until it is specifically tested for. A different type of immunoassay is designed to target specific compounds of Suboxone. Another testing method such as liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry is also used for detection, but is very costly.

Though Suboxone produces some similar effects such as in opioid drugs, it does not show up on drug test like other opioids. Suboxone can be detected if particularly tested for one of the substances, buprenorphine and/or its metabolites.

Employers may expand their drug testing panels according to their company’s culture. Some prescription drugs may be tested if the job requires higher level of alertness or if heavy machineries are operated.

People undergoing opioid addiction treatment can be periodically tested for Suboxone in order to measure the successfulness of the treatment and to maintain sobriety.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone (brand name) is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is a FDA-approved drug to treat certain conditions. Suboxone is also prescribed for off-label purposes in the treatment of narcotic or opioid use disorder, and to decrease symptoms of opioid withdrawal and prevent cravings.

Suboxone is available in generic versions; oral film and tablet. These are intended to be used sublingually (kept under the tongue) to dissolve. The films can be placed in between the cheek and gums to dissolve.

There have been studies indicating the effectiveness of Suboxone in reducing the opioid misuse and helping people to maintain treatment for opioid dependence over a period of 6 months.

Uses of Suboxone

Suboxone is a regulated drug and is used in the induction phase of opioid dependence treatment as well as in the maintenance treatment phase.

Through the induction phase, Suboxone helps in reducing withdrawal symptoms while reducing or stopping opioid use. During the maintenance phase, the drug controls the symptoms of withdrawal and cravings through the completion of substance abuse treatment program.

Suboxone is used off-label:

  • To treat opioid dependence
  • To help manage symptoms of withdrawal from opioid during detoxification
  • To treat chronic pain in people with opioid dependence
  • To treat depression and treatment-resistant depression

How Suboxone Works

Suboxone contains two components, buprenorphine and naloxone, with each playing a different role.

  • Buprenorphine (BUP):  It is classified as an opioid partial agonist-antagonist. It has some of the similar drug effects of opioid, but also blocks effects from other opioid drugs. It acts by redirecting normal functions of brain and prevents relapse.

BUP aids in the treatment of opioid drug disorder/dependence. It helps by reducing symptoms of withdrawal and drug cravings. The probability to cause euphoric effects is less when compared to other opioid drugs.

  • Naloxone:  It is classified as an opioid antagonist. It acts by blocking the effects from opioid drugs as well as stopping the feelings of euphoria that can lead to misuse of opioid.

One should be aware that naloxone can induce life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal when injected Suboxone while on opioid dependence. This is because the injection releases the naloxone quickly into the body, which in turn brings on immediate withdrawal by blocking the effects of opioids.

On the other hand, withdrawal symptoms are less likely to occur with the use of Suboxone film since the film releases naloxone slowly into the body than the injection.

Naloxone when added to BUP helps to prevent misuse, abuse or diversion of the BUP by inducing withdrawal if used in the form of injection rather than film that dissolves in the mouth.

Is Suboxone A Controlled Substance?

Yes, Suboxone is classified as a schedule III drug and is a controlled substance. It has the potential to cause physical or psychological dependence, and in some instances can be a drug of abuse.

Suboxone has been regulated as to how it should be used by health care professionals and dispensed by pharmacists. Only trained and certified health care professionals can prescribe Suboxone for opioid addiction.

Side Effects of Suboxone

While taking Suboxone, mild or serious side effects can occur. Mild side effects may fade away gradually within a few days or weeks. It is very uncommon to experience serious side effects. If it occurs, one has to immediately call the doctor or visit nearest emergency department.

Common Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Anxiousness
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling weak
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Body aches and pains

Serious Side Effects

  • Breathing problems
  • Allergic reactions (swelling of tongue, lips and throat; skin rash and hives)
  • Misuse and addiction
  • Severe symptoms of withdrawal
  • Impair liver function
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Coma

If any of the above or other symptoms occur while taking Suboxone, it is advisable to call your prescribing doctor or visit nearest emergency room if the symptoms are severe or threatening.

How Long Does Suboxone Stay In Your System?

Suboxone contains two substances, BUP and naloxone. BUP gets absorbed faster when taken sublingually. The half-life for BUP is about 24 to 42 hours.

Naloxone, when taken sublingually, has a low rate of absorption. The half-life for naloxone is around 2 to 12 hours.

Suboxone would be eliminated completely out of the system in a normal person within 5 to 8 days.

The liver metabolizes both BUP and naloxone. BUP gets eliminated through urine and feces whereas naloxone through urine.

Suboxone Abuse and Dependence

Like any other opioids, Suboxone can be potentially abused leading to physical and psychological dependence when taken for a longer period of time. It may also cause cravings and drug-seeking behavior leading to misuse.

In many cases, Suboxone is mainly used to help manage symptoms of withdrawal or to get off any opioid dependence.

Since Suboxone is a partial opiate receptor agonist, it is very hard to overdose on Suboxone alone. It limits the ability to activate the opioid receptors as compared to other opioids. This causes less feelings of euphoria than in the case of other opioids.

Some people mix Suboxone with sedatives, alcohol, antianxiety drugs or any other medications which results in overdose. This can further lead to slow breathing, coma and even death in some cases.

In general, drug tolerance builds up with certain opioids, but this doesn’t happen with Suboxone even when used over a longer period of time for opioid addiction.

Suboxone Withdrawal

Suboxone can drive towards physical and psychological dependence when used long-term. Abruptly stopping Suboxone can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, body aches and pains, headache, etc. It should be slowly tapered under the supervision of a health care professional to minimize or avoid any withdrawal symptoms.

Some of the Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Drug cravings

Suboxone Drug Test

While undergoing treatment with Suboxone for opioid use disorder or withdrawal symptoms, frequent drug testings will be performed to measure the efficacy of the treatment. Urine drug tests are primarily used to screen for Suboxone and other opioids. Most opioids do show up within 1 to 3 days after use and Suboxone can be detected for a longer period of time.

Most home drug test kits look for opioids in urine specimen, but don’t detect Suboxone. However, there are specific home drug test kits that screen for one of the elements in Suboxone, BUP. If the drug test shows a positive result for BUP, then it is considered positive for Suboxone.

Suboxone mostly doesn’t cause false positives for other opioid drugs.

Does Suboxone Show Up On A Drug Test?

No, the Suboxone will not show up on a drug test unless it is specifically tested for BUP, which is one of the elements of Suboxone.

If you are undergoing treatment for opioid dependence with Suboxone, you needn’t worry about the positive result. If you are drug tested as part of an employment process, you must be honest about the use and show them the prescription and physician’s reports regarding your treatment.


Suboxone is a FDA-approved drug administered in the treatment of opioid use disorder, and to reduce symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. It is also used for off-label intentions.

Suboxone has the potential to steer towards physical and psychological dependence, drug-craving and drug-seeking behaviour when used for extended period of time.

Stopping Suboxone abruptly while receiving treatment without physician’s knowledge can cause withdrawal symptoms. It should be tapered slowly under the guidance of the prescribing physician to minimize or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone will not surface on routine drug panel test unless it is specifically tested for its elements, naloxone and BUP or its metabolites.

Suboxone has been considered as a very effective drug to treat opioid dependence. The two ingredients in Suboxone, BUP and naloxone, help in reducing the risk of misuse/abuse, diminish symptoms of opioid withdrawal and cravings. It is considered to be a lower potential drug of abuse than BUP alone or other opioids.


Does Suboxone show up on a drug test?

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