How Does Suboxone Work?
To understand how suboxone works, it’s important to understand the opioid effect. The opioid effect occurs when a drug activates a pain-blocking receptor in your brain, which alters your perception of pain and releases endorphins that mimic pleasure.
It takes Suboxone between 20-60 minutes to take begin to work.
Opioids fall into three different classes:
- Agonist: Activates certain receptors in the brain, which results in the full opioid effect. The larger the dose of an agonist, the more you’ll feel the effects. Opium, oxycodone, heroin, morphine, and methadone are agonists.
- Partial agonist: Activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a much lesser extent than a full agonist. An example of a partial agonist is buprenorphine.
- Antagonist: Antagonists attach to opioid centers, but don’t activate them. Instead, antagonists block opioids. This means that antagonists cause no opioid effect, and don’t produce endorphins.
Buprenorphine– The buprenorphine within suboxone acts as a partial agonist. It interacts with the same opioid receptors that other opiates do. Buprenorphine acts similarly to other drugs (i.e. prescription painkillers, heroin), but has much weaker effects. By binding to opioid receptors, buprenorphine helps to relieve cravings for stronger drugs.
Naloxone–Naloxone acts as an antagonist, which means it blocks the opioid effect. So naloxone cancels the effects of an opioid. As a result, it will prevent opioids from activating pain receptors.
This is when treatment becomes beneficial because it helps manage your cravings for opioids and reduces symptoms of withdrawal. The effect that naloxone has on the nervous system also aids in blocking the effects of an opioid overdose. This makes naloxone very effective in emergency situations when someone is overdosing on opiates.
How The Body Metabolizes Suboxone
The body metabolizes and eliminates buprenorphine through urine and feces. On the other hand, the body metabolizes naloxone through the liver and excretes it in the urine.
To understand how the body metabolizes suboxone, it’s important to first understand its half-life. Half-life is the amount of time half a dose of a substance takes to completely leave the body.
Buprenorphine, a key component of suboxone, has an extremely long half-life. It can stay in the body for 24 and 42 hours. In contrast, naloxone has a much shorter half-life of around 2 to 12 hours. Therefore, suboxone is a long-acting opioid.
To determine how long suboxone lasts in the body, consider the elimination half-life of both drugs (buprenorphine and suboxone):
- Buprenorphine: 24 to 42 hours
- Suboxone: 2 to 12 hours
In general, it takes 4 to 5 half-lives for a drug to be completely eliminated from the body. Going by this, the body can fully eliminate suboxone within 7 to 9 days. This timeline applies to most healthy people.
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How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Lab Tests?
How long suboxone stays in lab tests depends on the type of lab test being performed. The different types of tests include saliva, urine, blood, and hair.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your Saliva?
Saliva tests are noninvasive and easier to administer so many prefer them over blood tests. These tests can detect Suboxone for up to five days after the last dose.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your Urine?
Urine While the amount of time varies based on the type of urine lab test used. Suboxone can usually show up on urine tests at least 9 hours after you take the drug.
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your Blood?
Suboxone can show up in a blood test for up to 2 days after taking the drug. Again, how long it stays in the blood varies. There are a few factors that affect how long suboxone lasts in the blood:
- Metabolic rate
- Frequency of use and dosage
- Duration of use
- Level of physical activity
How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your Hair?
Hair tests can detect Suboxone from your hair follicles for up to 3 months. However, this can vary based on the section of hair being tested and is not the most reliable form of drug testing.
Factors That Affect How Long Suboxone Stays In Your System
Suboxone usually takes seven to nine days to completely leave the body. This can differ between people due to some of the following factors:
Frequency of Suboxone Use: Individuals who take Suboxone in higher doses or regularly may develop a tolerance, or build-up, of the substance. Due to this factor, it may take longer for it to leave your system than for someone who has taken a lesser dose of Suboxone.
Liver Health: Because naloxone is metabolized by the liver, liver heath must be considered. The half-life of the drug is significantly prolonged in people with moderate to severe liver disease. The half-life of buprenorphine is also prolonged in people with liver disease, although to a lesser extent.
Combining with other substances: Using Suboxone with other medications and substances can increase the levels of Suboxone in your system and affect how long it takes to leave your body.
Additionally, an individual’s weight, age, and metabolic speed are also factors to consider. Someone who is younger, healthy, and has a faster metabolism will process and excrete Suboxone at a faster rate.
Getting Help for Suboxone Abuse
Although Suboxone is used to treat opioid use disorder, individuals can get addicted if not used as directed by their doctor. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to Suboxone, our team is here to help. Riverside Recovery of Tampa specializes in behavioral therapy for opioid addiction treatment.
Contact our admissions team to learn more about our treatment program and how to get back the life you love today.