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Does Suboxone Show Up on a Drug Test?

Suboxone can show up on some types of drug tests. Suboxone contains buprenorphine, a controlled medication in the opioid class. Some types of tests can pick up this element, and if you don’t have a valid prescription, you could lose employment opportunities.

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Some types of tests don’t pick up Suboxone. For example, in a study that involved giving people buprenorphine and then testing their urine, 57% of the tests were negative.[1] If the testing company doesn’t use the right technology, your drug use may not appear in the results. 

In general, it’s best to be honest with your doctors, employers, and yourself. Rather than trying to determine if Suboxone shows up on a drug test so you can cheat, use the medication as it’s prescribed to help with your opioid use disorder (OUD). 

Does Suboxone Show Up on These Drug Tests?

In general, it’s not the type of sample that determines whether Suboxone will show up in a drug test. Instead, the equipment that’s used to process the sample matters most. 

Researchers say tests processed via immunoassay often don’t detect buprenorphine. Those using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry are more accurate.[2]

If your testing company uses an accurate method, here’s how long you might test positive after using Suboxone: 

Urine 

Many employers and doctors use urine to test for drugs like buprenorphine. It’s easy for people to provide samples, and medical professionals like nurses aren’t required. If you use Suboxone, it can appear in your urine for up to 14 days.[3]

Blood 

A blood test can help your doctors determine both if you’re using Suboxone and how much you took. In one study, researchers detected buprenorphine in blood for up to six hours, but concentrations were highest for about two hours.[4]

Saliva

In a saliva test, you either provide a spit sample or professionals swab the inside of your mouth to collect tissue. A test like this can detect buprenorphine for up to 36 hours.[3]

Hair

This type of test provides the longest detection window, as metabolites from drugs can build up in your hair and stay there for long periods. A test like this can detect opioids like buprenorphine for up to 90 days.[3]

Do Employers Test for Suboxone Before Hiring? 

Some companies provide drug tests as a condition of employment. Some may need sober employees to do things like drive forklifts or fly airplanes. Others want sober staff to keep their insurance premiums low. If you want a job with one of these companies, your testing could be complicated. 

If you have a valid prescription for Suboxone, bring it to the testing facility and show it to the administrator. If you test positive and the results are in alignment with your prescription, the administrator can report the result as negative.[4]

Even with a valid prescription, you may be required to tell your employer about your prescription drug use. Some companies require their staff to report all prescribed medications to them. This step is more likely if you work as a pilot, bus driver, or for another regulated agency.[4]

Protections for Addiction Treatment

If your drug use is part of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program for your OUD, an employer can’t automatically disqualify you without considering if there’s a way for you to do the job safely and effectively. Your rights are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.[5]

You can ask your employer for a reasonable accommodation that would allow you to do the job safely and effectively. If it doesn’t involve big expenses or difficulties, the employer must work with you.[5]

Don’t let fears about Suboxone in a drug test keep you from getting the job you always wanted. Work with your medical team and prospective employer for the right solutions that meet your needs. 

Updated March 16, 2024
Resources
  1. Jamshidi N, Athavale A, Tremonti C, et al. Evaluation of adherence monitoring in buprenorphine treatment: A pilot study using timed drug assays to determine the accuracy of testing. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2022;89(7):1938-1947.
  2. Jamshidi N, Athavale A, Murnion B. Buprenorphine not detected on urine drug screening in supervised treatment. Journal of Opioid Management. 2021;17(7):69-76.
  3. Opioid testing. Testing. Published September 28, 2022. Accessed February 29, 2024.
  4. DOT drug testing: Part 40-Employee notice. U.S. Department of Transportation. Published December 11, 2017. Accessed February 29, 2024.
  5. Use of codeine, oxycodone, and other opioids: Information for employees. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Published August 5, 2020. Accessed February 29, 2024.
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