Futures Recovery Healthcare

When Does Suboxone Show on a Drug Test?


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One of the benefits of utilizing Suboxone as a medication-assisted treatment after opiate addiction is to more smoothly – and more quickly – transition into recovery and enjoy the benefits of a clean and sober life. Employment is one of those benefits, and the concern that it could be threatened by the very thing sustaining the person’s recovery is understandably worrisome. So does Suboxone show up on a drug test at work? And more importantly, if it does, will it threaten the person’s employability?

The Short Answer

A drug test that is specifically looking for buprenorphine will pick up on the presence of Suboxone. However, it is not guaranteed that an employer – or anyone who tests for drug use, for that matter – will look for buprenorphine when testing for drugs. Most drug screening panels do not include buprenorphine among the drugs that it detects. Even the urine test commonly used to identify the use of heroin, methadone, and other opiate drugs will not pick up on buprenorphine in the people who use only buprenorphine and nothing else. In most cases, employers test for:

  • Benzodiazepines (i.e. Xanax, Valium)
  • Cocaine
  • Barbiturates (i.e. phenobarbital, secobarbital)
  • Marijuana
  • Amphetamines and methamphetamines
  • MDMA (i.e. Ecstasy, Molly)
  • Opiates (i.e. oxycodone, hydrocodone)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)

This is not to say that buprenorphine will never be the focus of an employer drug test. Since 2011, more and more employers are including the drug on their test panel. In most cases, buprenorphine will be in the system in high enough doses to be detected via drug test for a week to 10 days after last use. This rate could vary depending upon the person’s metabolism as well as the amount of the dose taken.

Firing Offense?

It is debatable whether or not buprenorphine taken for therapeutic purposes with the prescription of a doctor would qualify as a firing offense. It depends upon the contract that the employee signed with the employer upon embarking upon employment. Though buprenorphine can be abused, and finding its use on a drug test can mean that someone is using drugs recreationally, it can also mean that someone is working to manage an addiction and staying clean and sober – especially if no other drugs are detected. However, if the employee signed a zero-tolerance drug policy and agreed to take no drugs of any kind for any purpose, then, in the eyes of the employer, it may not matter why he or she is taking buprenorphine.

Not a Life Sentence

Buprenorphine can be exceedingly helpful in aiding patients in the transition from active drug use into active sobriety, but it is not a medication that needs to be taken for life. Patients who are ready can transition off the drug, slowly stepping down their dose as they feel comfortable. However, it is important to note that continued sobriety is the most important thing, and if at any time the patient feels like he or she may relapse, then the medication dose should be adjusted as needed. What do you need to break free from opiate dependence? Contact Futures Recovery Healthcare today to learn about our opiate detox and addiction treatment programs.


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