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How Long Does Suboxone Last?

By Andy Osborne ; Updated July 27, 2017

Suboxone is a prescription medication indicated for the treatment of addiction to opioid or opiate drugs (synthetic or non-synthetic codeine- or morphine-derived drugs, respectively). It was approved for this purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002, and according to the DEA, is effective for this purpose.

Much of Suboxone's effectiveness in controlling opioid addiction stems from its long duration of action. Examining how long Suboxone lasts and how its effects are related to its duration of action is essential before beginning treatment with the drug.


Suboxone is the trade name for a long-acting opioid compound chemical called buprenorphine combined with naloxone, according to Suboxone.com.

Buprenorphine, a partial opiate receptor agonist, binds to the opiate receptors in the brain in a similar fashion to drugs such as oxycodone, morphine, and heroin. Naloxone, in contrast, is an opiate antagonist, which is included in Suboxone to discourage the user to inject the medication, since misuse will not result in a "high" as with other opiates.


Available in brand-name or generic in 2 mg and 8 mg strengths, Suboxone is an orange, pentagonal pill which is designed to be administered orally. This route of administration allows the medicine to rapidly enter the bloodstream without letting in a large portion of the naloxone.

The important idea here is that naloxone is an antidote to opioid overdose, and could dramatically shorten the duration of Suboxone if the drug is not taken as prescribed.

Time Frame

Buprenorphine.com, a non-profit division of the U.S. National Institutes of health, states that Suboxone has a half-life of 24-60 hours. This means that the drug has the potential to control opioid cravings over that time span.

The concept of a half life is important to understand--it's not a linear relationship, as in half the medication is gone at some point during that time frame. Half-life here means that, say, 30 hours after ingesting Suboxone, half the active amount will be gone. This doesn't mean that 30 hours later, though, the other half will be gone. At that point half of the remainder will be gone, then another half after the same time interval, and so on, until the drug is eliminated from the body.


The significance of Suboxone's long half-life and duration of action is that it controls cravings for other opioid drugs for a long time, often requiring only one small dose a day to do the job.

Drugs like morphine, heroin, and oxycodone have much shorter half-lives, and produce uncomfortable, often excruciating withdrawal as little as 12 hours after the last administered dose.


Before deciding on Suboxone treatment for opioid dependence, one should locate a doctor who prescribes the medication. A useful link is listed below as a resource for this purpose.

Suboxone.com states that counseling is also a vital part of using the medication properly. The prescribing physician will decide on a plan best suited for each individual.

If used properly, Suboxone is a long-acting medication that can help free someone hooked on opioid drugs from a potentially life-threatening addiction.

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