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How Long Does It Take for Suboxone to Kick In?

Generally, Suboxone takes about 20 to 60 minutes to take full effect after the medication has fully dissolved in the mouth.[1] That’s about how long it takes for buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, to bind to the receptors in the brain and begin the work of reducing withdrawal symptoms and cutting down on cravings that often characterize opioid addiction. 

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There are a number of factors that can impact how long it will actually take Suboxone to work on an individual basis. Those same factors will also impact how long the drug remains effective in a person’s system. 

In most cases, as long as the drug is not abused and there are no significant underlying factors blocking its function in the body, a dose of Suboxone should take no longer than an hour to be effective. 

Suboxone Effects Timeline

It’s important to remember that every individual will bring different factors to the equation when it comes to determining how long it will take for Suboxone to take effect and how long it will be active in the body. However, the following information is applicable to most users:[1-6]

Onset of ActionPatients usually experience relief from withdrawal symptoms within 20 to 60 minutes of administration.
Peak EffectsThe effects of Suboxone tend to peak about three to four hours after taking it.
Duration of ActionBuprenorphine remains in effect for up to 24 hours after the last dose.
Detection WindowBlood test: Up to two days after last doseUrine test: Up to seven to 14 days after last doseSaliva: one to three days after last doseHair: Up to 90 days or longer after last dose

Factors That Impact Suboxone’s Effect on the Body

Everyone is different in terms of their health and how their body will process any medication, including Suboxone. Factors that impact how Suboxone may affect the body and how long it will take to kick in include the following: 

  • Age
  • Metabolism
  • Sex
  • Liver function
  • Dosage
  • Other medications
  • Overall health


Metabolism is the largest factor in processing medications and therefore the biggest determinant of how quickly someone will feel the effects of medication and how long it will stay in the body before it is fully processed out.[7] People who have a naturally fast metabolism may feel the effects of Suboxone more quickly, but those effects may not last as long as they do for other people. Peak effects will be shorter as well. 


With age, metabolism slows down, which can impact how quickly Suboxone is processed in the body and how quickly it takes effect.[8] This can mean that it stays in the system longer as well and potentially cause greater side effects. People who are older should work closely with their doctors, as they dial in treatment to get the dose that works best for them. 


Generally, there are physiological differences between the sexes that can impact how Suboxone will break down in the body. Body fat distribution and hormonal differences are key factors. For example, women may metabolize medications like Suboxone differently when they are menstruating due to hormonal fluctuations.[9]

It is not common for there to be a different dosing schedule for men and women as a result of these differences. However, these details may be taken into consideration if an individual has difficulties taking the drug.

Liver Function

Buprenorphine, the active ingredient in Suboxone, is metabolized by the liver, so impaired liver function can upset the process of breaking down, utilizing, and excreting Suboxone.[10] It may also increase the risk of side effects. If there are signs of liver disease or liver failure, the prescribing doctor may opt for a lower dose.


Higher doses of Suboxone can impact how quickly it takes for the drug to take effect. Higher doses may also provide more sustained effects, which can increase the efficacy of treatment and the likelihood that someone stays engaged with recovery, but it may also increase the risk of side effects.[11]

It is normal for the dose of Suboxone to change for each individual in the beginning of treatment. This early phase often involves some trial and error, as the prescribing doctor will determine the best dose to control withdrawal symptoms and cravings without excessive side effects. 

Other Medications

Other medications may change how the body processes Suboxone, and they can also alter Suboxone’s effects or increase its side effects.[12] This happens when substances compete for the same metabolic pathways or altar metabolism rates that impact how quickly Suboxone begins working and how long it remains in the body. 

Prescribing physicians will look at all medications a patient takes when choosing whether or not to prescribe Suboxone and in what dose. 

Overall Health 

Health issues that impact the cardiovascular system, the renal system, and the digestive system (among others) can change how Suboxone is metabolized in the body. For some people, this might mean slower metabolism of Suboxone, more side effects, or less efficacy. 

In some cases, taking Suboxone may also negatively impact other underlying health disorders as well. For example, those who have heart problems may find they are at increased risk of arrhythmia when taking Suboxone.[13]

Suboxone Pills vs. Strips: Does One Work Faster?

Suboxone is available in both pill and strip form, but both forms are designed to dissolve in the mouth, depositing the medication directly into the bloodstream. While some people may feel that one form of Suboxone comes with a more rapid onset of effect than the other, both are designed to work on the same timeline. Both trigger protection against withdrawal symptoms and peak in effect at about the same time—between 20 and 60 minutes after taking it.[1]

How Long Will the Effects of Suboxone Last?

The effects of Suboxone should last for up to 24 hours. Most people take the drug one time per day, allowing levels of the buprenorphine to build up in the system without triggering the naloxone component.[2]

Updated April 6, 2024
  1. Buprenorphine: Beginning Treatment. New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports. Revised September 25, 2010. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  2. Kumar R, Viswanath O, Saadabadi A. Buprenorphine. StatPearls. Published November 30, 2023. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  3. Huestis MA, Cone EJ, Pirnay SO, Umbricht A, Preston KL. Intravenous buprenorphine and norbuprenorphine pharmacokinetics in humans. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2013;131(3):258-262.
  4. Furo H, Schwartz DG, Sullivan RW, Elkin PL. Buprenorphine dosage and urine quantitative buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine, and creatinine levels in an office-based opioid treatment program. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment. 2021;15:117822182110617.
  5. Cone EJ, Huestis MA. Interpretation of oral fluid tests for drugs of abuse. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 2007;1098(1):51-103.
  6. Moore, C. Hair analysis for drugs: Cut off concentrations, analytes, stability. Published July 15, 2013. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  7. Susa ST, Preuss CV. Drug metabolism. StatPearls. Published 2019. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  8. Mangoni AA, Jackson SHD. Age-related changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics: Basic principles and practical applications. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2004;57(1):6-14.
  9. Kashuba ADM, Nafziger AN. Physiological changes during the menstrual cycle and their effects on the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs. Clinical Pharmacokinetics. 1998;34(3):203-218.
  10. Verbeeck RK, Horsmans Y. Effect of hepatic insufficiency on pharmacokinetics and drug dosing. Pharmacy World & Science: PWS. 1998;20(5):183-192.
  11. Higher buprenorphine doses associated with improved retention in treatment for opioid use disorder. Brown University. Published November 13, 2023. Accessed March 26, 2024.
  12. McCance Katz EF, Sullivan LE, Nallani S. Drug interactions of clinical importance among the opioids, methadone and buprenorphine, and other frequently prescribed medications: A review. American Journal on Addictions. 2010;19(1):4-16.
  13. Kao D, Haigney MC, Mehler PS, Krantz MJ. Arrhythmia associated with buprenorphine and methadone reported to the food and drug administration. Addiction. 2015;110(9):1468-1475.
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