How Long Does Subutex Stay In Your System?

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01 Aug How Long Does Subutex Stay In Your System?

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What is Subutex? Subutex is a drug approved by the FDA in 2002 for the treatment of opioid dependence and opioid addiction. The medication’s typical use is for opioid replacement therapy to help ease the transition of use from illicit opioids such as heroin and oxycodone. For substance addicts who are going through the drug withdrawal phase, Subutex is administered and monitored by medical professionals to aid them in the symptoms and process. Please note, there is a very similar drug on the market called Suboxone. Subutex is only buprenorphine, while Suboxone is both buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine is the active ingredient in Subutex that serves as a mu-opioid receptor (MOR) partial agonist, which delivers stimulating effects similar to heroin, but not to the same extent. Since the drug is considered a partial opioid agonist, the drug partially binds to the opioid receptors, as opposed to a full opioid agonist (such as heroin) which fully blocks the opioid receptors. For this reason, the opioid medication Subutex, is considered safer and is used as a substitute to lessen the risk of opioid dependence. Despite its use to help those who have become addicted to drugs, Subutex itself can be addictive. For this reason, the use of the drug must be properly regulated on a case-by-case basis during the detoxification process or avoided altogether.

treatment for subutex

If you’ve begun use of Subutex but have since it stopped, you most likely will experience withdrawal symptoms as with any other drug. These can be painful and unpleasant, which is another reason why it’s best used with the assistance of others who are medically adept.

How long does Subutex stay in your system? When considering the question, “how long is Subutex in your system?” you must first know its drug half-life. Subutex has a half-life of an estimated 37 hours, which means that it takes this amount of time for 50% of buprenorphine to be eliminated. Based on this half-life calculation, it’s estimated that Subutex will stay in the system for 8-9 days on average.

Other studies suggest that the half-life may reach up to 42 hours, which would extend the clearance stage to 9 1/2 days. This means a person can expect the drug to be cleared from their system by the 10th day after use, although some components may remain as the liver breaks down the drug entirely.

Factors That Determine How Long Subutex Stay In Your System

Different factors affect the length of time Subutex will hang around in the system. Typically speaking, the buprenorphine drug is cleared out around the 10-day mark, but some may not adequately excrete the metabolites for up to 2 weeks. Why does the timeline vary so much?
Age, weight, dosage, and other types of drugs ingested at the same time all have an effect on how long Subutex will remain in the body. For example, a person over the age of 65 may have a hard time metabolizing drugs, especially compared to a person significantly younger like an adolescent or young adult. Even if one person from each group took the same dosage of Subutex, it would be metabolized and excreted at different rates.

How much a person weighs has an influence on how long the drug will remain in the system as well. There is research that shows the higher the body mass index, the quicker a person is likely to rid the body of the drug. The theory behind this is due to the fact buprenorphine binds to lipids and may accumulate more of the drug within fat “pockets.”

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Since the liver is responsible for breaking down the buprenorphine drug, if the organ is not functioning at its full capacity due to disease or infection, it won’t metabolize the drug as efficiently and prolong the life of the drug in the body. A healthy liver and other proper organ functioning allow for a quicker metabolization period.

Age, weight, and liver functionality are just three examples of the list of factors that will have an influence over the time Subutex stays in the system. Each person is different not only with how they break down the drug but also how often and how much they use it. The times given are approximated and based on these variables.

Types of Subutex Drug Tests

Drug tests can track the presence of Subutex in the system. The active ingredient, buprenorphine, requires testing on a more advanced drug screening, as it’s not tested for on a standard test. Like with other illicit substances, available drug testing includes samples of urine, saliva, blood, or hair.

A urine drug test is the most common type of drug testing. If you’ve taken Subutex, you won’t test positive for opioids on the standard drug screening and a subutex drug test would require more advanced testing. The only opioids which can be detected with this type of testing are those that break down into morphine. A more extensive urinalysis will most likely detect buprenorphine.
types of subutex drug tests

These types of tests are often used over saliva or blood tests due to the efficiency and lack of invasiveness. Subutex may be detected within 40 minutes of use and stay in the urine for up to 2 weeks after the final dose. For those who have been using Subutex on a long-term basis, there will most likely be a higher level of Subutex that appears on the test.

A sampling of saliva can be collected for analysis of the presence of Subutex. Saliva tests can detect buprenorphine for up to a week after use, sometimes longer in chronic users. Buprenorphine may be detected sooner with a saliva test than with a blood test although the levels found are generally similar with either test. There is a preference of saliva testing over blood testing due to its accuracy and technology available, which allows for an analyzation to be performed within minutes.

Blood tests are still used on occasion, but they are more inconvenient and hold a shorter window of detection than a urine test. Levels of buprenorphine may be detectable within minutes following the administration of Subutex, but it’s typically most easily detectable between 40 minutes and 4 hours after use. The drug can be detectable in the blood for up to a week after its administration.

Hair follicle tests can test for a major longer duration of time than other tests. There is a gap of time between when a person takes the drug and when it appears in the hair, but a hair test can detect Subutex in the system up to 90 days after last use and for several months in chronic users.
Although testing for buprenorphine is considered relatively uncommon compared to other opioids, it is still possible to test for when necessary. People who are most likely to be tested for this advanced screening include individuals who have been convicted of a crime, addicts in rehab facilities, or possibly people applying for new employment.

Symptoms of Subutex Abuse

Subutex is an addictive drug, which means people can still easily abuse it. Individuals who are not administered Subutex under the guidance of medical staff have been known to abuse it in its tablet form. It is typically crushed and snorted or in some cases, injected. When used this way, the drug can produce similar side effects to heroin and morphine.

A person drug dependent on Subutex experiences withdrawal symptoms such as:

● Nausea or vomiting
● Muscle aches
● Anxiety
● Dilated pupils
● Insomnia
● Restlessness

These withdrawal symptoms are similar to those associated with other types of opiate abuse and should be somewhat noticeable by friends, co-workers, or family members even if a person tries to hide them.

Someone who is abusing Subutex will commonly suffer from nosebleeds, mood swings, shifts in sleep patterns, and persistent flu-like symptoms. While primarily used for drug replacement therapy, there are still parameters to follow, to make the drug beneficial for the person taking it and also to prevent further addiction from occurring.

What to Expect From Subutex Treatment

Administration of Subutex is typically done within a treatment facility or in the privacy of a clinic room by a physician. Patient education and preparation are performed ahead of time before the first dosage. It’s imperative for a person who enters Subutex treatment to already be in drug withdrawal to benefit from the effects of buprenorphine. If not, they could experience intense symptoms and think the drug is ineffective.

Patients can expect the first day of treatment to take a couple of hours. It’s often recommended for a person not to return to work or daily activities following this first treatment, which is another reason it’s highly beneficial to undergo withdrawal treatment as part of full inpatient care. A doctor can then regulate doses and make any adjustments necessary right away.

On the first day of treatment, patients may experience anxiety, chills, cramps, and other withdrawal symptoms. The effects of subutex are meant to help a person feel better as they go through detox. However, after several days or in a few weeks, a person may feel so good, they may believe their recovery is complete. This is a tricky time for people receiving care because although they may physically feel better, their treatment has just begun. The first step is to help transition the body to full detoxification, which is how Subutex helps.

When no further drugs are being administered, a person has to be in a place to understand that cravings might return, but have enough support and knowledge to combat them. This cannot be achieved by using Subutex alone. This is instilled through addiction education, counseling, support groups, and other activities that do not include the use of drugs whatsoever, which is all part of a full rehabilitation program.

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Is Subutex Right for Me?

Subutex is a drug prescribed and administered by a doctor, so it’s up to a physician’s recommendation to fully assess each situation on its own and forecast how a person will react to this type of treatment. It may not be the solution for everyone and should not be considered an “easy way out” of addiction or opioid withdrawal symptoms.

However, the change to sobriety can drastically affect the body when a person has become dependent on drugs. When the body is not used to functioning without them, the withdrawal symptoms can wreak havoc on a person whose body and mind is already frail. Without proper support in place, this easily leads to relapse.

Monitoring is essential during any type of treatment, whether it includes Subutex or not, because drugs may have already severely caused damage to different organs. Any sudden change can put a person’s health at further risk. A secure, comfortable environment provides an ideal setup to give a person the medical assistance necessary and the emotional support that will help make treatment more successful on a long-term basis.

Getting Help for Addiction

Addiction takes over a person’s mind to a point where they can’t think clearly or make good decisions. Using drugs in a way that they were not intended or in doses exceeding the prescribed limits puts people in danger for long-term effects of addiction. This is still defined as a type of abuse and carries the same side effects and risks. People who have not recognized they have a problem with drug abuse need to first face this reality.

People who have accepted they have an addiction should seek help that will best suit them. Often there is a disconnect between admitting there is a problem and doing anything to solve it. Addiction may be seen as too difficult to overcome, and people will continue to use.

Recovery doesn’t happen overnight and takes a lot of work and dedication, but fortunately, there are always available resources to help. There are several types of inpatient and outpatient care available, which will suit different lifestyles, schedules, and needs. The important thing is to be in a healthy environment where you can focus on improving your life free of drugs and learning ways to cope in the future.

Rehabilitation gives addicts and their families a chance to a hopeful future for a new beginning without the overhanging fear for their safety or overdose. We want to be a source of support for those who have questions about addiction or those who wish to know what type of treatment might work best for them for long-term recovery.

Battling substance abuse and addiction is not something you have to go through alone. We are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day helping people choose a positive plan for their future vs the pain of long-term addiction. Let us know how we can help.


“How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?” American Addiction Centers. 6 Mar. 2019.

T, Buddy. “How Long Does Buprenorphine Stay in Your System?” Verywell Mind. 18 April 2018. 6 Mar. 2019.

“How Long Does Subutex Stay in Your System?” Mental Health Daily. 6 Mar. 2019.

Crane, Marisa. “Subutex vs Suboxone: What’s the Difference?: What Is Buprenorphine?” 25. Nov. 2019American Addiction Centers,

  • Josh A.
    Posted at 03:45h, 12 April Reply

    This was an amazingly written article. I’m coming up on my 1 year mark on the 20th of April. Looking back it was a hard road but I’m so glad I finally did it. I am of course an addiction, but my use was more from dependence because I was scared of the prolonged withdrawal effects. But I finally admitted that it’s still addiction and once I coped with that I was able to move forward thanks to articles like this and message boards to talk to other people in recovery. I also had a fantastic support system in my family and friends.

    Thank you guys for these articles and information. It helps a lot to everyone who is thinking about making the change to sobriety. Keep up the good work.

    And to the addicts reading this and considering treatment, you CAN DO IT!! Keep reading these articles, get on recovery message boards and talk to people and see how much more fulfilling life is when you’re in recovery! I hope you all the best!

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