How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Suboxone?

Jun 2023 How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Suboxone?

For more than 20 years, Suboxone has proved to be a beneficial medication. However, like every other drug, its use can cause certain side effects. Common questions about this medication include how long does Suboxone stay in your system and how long does it take to get addicted to Suboxone?

What is Suboxone Used For?

Suboxone is a prescription medication that is used to help people who have become addicted to heroin, morphine, prescription painkillers, and other opioids. It may be prescribed as a tablet or a sublingual film. 

Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone. Here’s a quick overview of how these two ingredients can help people end their opioid use:

  • Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist. This means that it interacts with the same receptors in the central nervous system that are affected by opioids, but it doesn’t produce the intense, disorienting high that opioid use does. When people take buprenorphine as directed by the prescribing physician, they can stop using opioids without experiencing cravings and other withdrawal symptoms that would otherwise quickly occur.
  • Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it blocks opioid receptors. Naloxone is sold on its own as Narcan, which can reverse the effects of opioid overdose when delivered in time either as a nasal spray or via injection. It is included in Suboxone to prevent people from abusing the medication. If someone attempted to inject Suboxone, the presence of naloxone would prevent intoxication and trigger the onset of withdrawal symptoms.

Woman using Suboxone to overcome addictionThe Pros and Cons of Suboxone

As with virtually every other prescription medication, Suboxone use has benefits (pros) and potential drawbacks (cons).  

The positive aspects of Suboxone use include the following:

  • Decades of research have demonstrated that Suboxone can be safe and effective when used as directed in the context of an authorized medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program.
  • Studies have shown that people who take Suboxone are more likely to remain in treatment and achieve sustained recovery from opioid addiction, and less likely to experience negative outcomes such as contracting HIV or hepatitis.
  • Suboxone has proved to be safer than methadone for people who are pregnant.

Potential side effects or risk factors for Suboxone include the following:

  • Since buprenorphine is not a full opioid agonist, people who take larger-than-recommended doses can achieve a mild recreational high. This poses risks for both abuse and diversion of the medication.
  • When a person decides to end their use of Suboxone, they may experience some distressing withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal pain is more likely if a person abruptly stops using the drug, instead of tapering their use of the medication as advised by their doctor.

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?

There is no single, universally applicable answer to the question, “How long does Suboxone stay in your system?” The length of time that this medication remain in a person’s body can be influenced by several factors. This includes their age, gender, weight, and metabolism. 

Experts estimate that the half-life of buprenorphine can range from 25 to 70 hours. It typically takes four to five half-lives for a drug to be considered eliminated. This means that traces of Suboxone may remain in a person’s system for 100-350 hours (or anywhere from four to 14 days). 

Can Suboxone be Addictive?

When discussing Suboxone addiction, it is important to differentiate between long-term use and actual dependence.

Some people unfortunately retain the misguided opinion that maintenance programs that use Suboxone are merely substituting an addiction to one drug (opioids) for another (Suboxone). This is simply not true. Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease. Taking Suboxone to help with symptom management is no more of an addiction than taking insulin to manage diabetes.

With that established, it is possible for a person to become dependent on Suboxone. Especially if they have been abusing the medication (such as by taking it more frequently or in larger doses than recommended, or by using it solely for recreational purposes).

How Long Does it Take to Get Addicted to Suboxone?

In addition to asking how long does Suboxone stay in your system, many people also want to know how long does it take to get addicted to Suboxone? As with the first question, the answer to the second one can also vary.

Suboxone interacts with the body in a manner that is similar to how heroin, morphine, and other opioids do. This extends to its addictive properties. If a person is abusing Suboxone, they can become addicted to it in a matter of a few weeks. Some people may develop addiction much quicker, while others can take a bit longer. 

Can Suboxone Addiction be Treated?

Yes, Suboxone addiction can be successfully treated with medication and addiction therapy. Treatment for Suboxone addiction may be similar to what a person would need if they had become addicted to prescription painkillers or other opioids.

The goals of treatment for Suboxone addiction will typically include:

  • Helping the person rid their body of Suboxone through detox
  • Identifying the person’s triggers, or the circumstances that may have pushed them into Suboxone abuse or could undermine their recovery
  • Developing healthier communication, stress-management, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution skills
  • Addressing any co-occurring mental health concerns
  • Forming an effective personal support network
  • Connecting with peer support groups and other resources that can help them maintain their recovery after they have completed treatment

Contact Phoenix Rising Recovery Center in Palm Springs, California

Phoenix Rising Recovery is a trusted source of customized care for people who have developed Suboxone addiction. We also treat certain co-occurring mental health concerns. At our center in Palm Springs, California, you can work with a team of dedicated professionals to end your Suboxone abuse and build a foundation for successful, long-term recovery. 

To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact page or call us today.