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How Long Does Buprenorphine Stay in Your System?

by Nick

As someone taking buprenorphine or considering treatment, you may wonder how long it stays in your system. Every medication has a half-life, the length of time it circulates through the body. This half-life impacts how long you feel its effects and when it will show up on a drug screen. Learning how long buprenorphine stays in your system can help you better understand your treatment. Discover more about buprenorphine’s mechanism of action and how it affects patients.

What Does Buprenorphine Do?

The partial opioid agonist buprenorphine activates the opioid receptors in your brain. As a partial agonist, it doesn’t activate them to the same extent as full opioid agonists such as oxycodone, heroin or methadone. This property means that buprenorphine has a ceiling effect, or, a level where its effects stop increasing even if more of the medication is taken. Since opioids also activate the opioid receptors, using buprenorphine to activate them results in a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. In other words, buprenorphine satisfies the brain’s need for opioids by limiting symptoms without providing the euphoria or “high” sought by those who misuse opioids.

How Long Does Buprenorphine Block Opiates?

When buprenorphine binds to the opiate receptors in your brain, it effectively prevents other opioids from being able to attach. It then fulfills your body’s need for opioids, reducing cravings and the effects of withdrawal. Once buprenorphine attaches to your receptors, it stays attached for about 40 minutes. Buprenorphine reaches its highest concentration in your blood plasma within 40 minutes to three and a half hours. The time it takes for buprenorphine to come into effect depends on your individual body chemistry.

Once you take buprenorphine, it provides effects from anywhere between 24 to 60 hours. It has an average half-life of about 37 hours. Like the amount of time for buprenorphine to take effect, the length of its effects depends on the person.

In some cases, buprenorphine medication comes in a form that also contains naloxone, a medication that blocks opioids. Naloxone removes opioids from opioid receptors and blocks other opioids from attaching. Due to the medication’s design and how it interacts with the body, the naloxone does not affect the buprenorphine’s effectiveness. Instead, it discourages misuse through injecting or snorting. Naloxone is also administered on it’s own by first responders and others as a way to stop the effects of an opioid overdose, saving lives and giving people time to seek further medical treatment.

Does Buprenorphine Appear on Drug Tests?

For buprenorphine to show up on a drug screen, the drug test must specifically test for buprenorphine. The standard urine and saliva tests used for workplaces cannot detect buprenorphine as an opioid, though it is becoming more common to be tested for. Before participating in a drug test, you can let the laboratory know you take buprenorphine. As a patient, you have protection from employment discrimination under the law.

How Can Patients Use This Information During Treatment?

Understanding how long buprenorphine stays in your system can help you find a treatment plan that addresses your symptoms. Pay close attention to buprenorphine’s effects and any side effects you experience. If it provides long-lasting effects, your doctor might recommend taking it less frequently or at a lower amount. You could also find yourself feeling withdrawal symptoms between medication times. In this situation, you may need to take it more often or at a higher amount.

Learn More About Buprenorphine or Start Treatment

Get more information about buprenorphine or enter a New England MAT program by contacting Health Care Resource Centers today.

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