Does Suboxone Show Up on a Drug Test?

It can. It depends on the drug test used by the testing entity, whether it be an employer, a potential employer or law enforcement. There are panel tests available in 5, 10, 12, 16, 20 and other combinations. The higher the panel number, the more drugs are tested for. Suboxone will not show up on a 12 panel test, but it can be detected by a 16 or 20 panel one.

However, all drug tests have what is called a threshold or cutoff. This means that the drug in question must be present in certain minimum amounts for the test to find it. Drugs also have what are called half-lives. A half-life is the amount of time required for the body to eliminate half of the drug dose taken. Half-life times vary greatly from drug class to drug class and even drug to drug. It\’s another way of saying that the more time that has elapsed since the last dose, the more unlikely it is to be detected.

Drug tests identify specific drugs by looking for metabolites, which are substances created as the body metabolizes a substance. Very few drugs remain unchanged. Almost all have known metabolites. For example, heroin will be metabolized to morphine, its active metabolite, and others as well. The same is true for codeine. Oxycodone\’s metabolites include oxymorphone and noroxycodone. Hydrocodone will break down to hydromorphone.

Drug tests can detect these substances in very, very small amounts. In fact, these amounts are expressed in nanograms, which are a billionth of a single gram. Over time, if no more doses are taken, the body will continue to eliminate the drug until it falls below even this incredibly small threshold, but any substance taken recently is sure to be detected. Although recently is a relative word, most substances will fall below detectable levels within a few days to a week at most. There are a few exceptions, such as methadone, Suboxone, diazepam and some of the other benzodiazepines and THC.

Sometimes, these can be detected for many weeks after the last use, especially in a chronic user. The 16 panel drug test screens for the following:

  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • PCP
  • Methaqualone
  • Propoxyphene
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Ecstasy
  • Fentanyl
  • Tramadol
  • Methadone
  • Suboxone (buprenorphine)

Suboxone and the Workplace

Both Suboxone and methadone are used for opioid treatment, opioid maintenance and pain relief. Methadone is available in both 5 and 10 milligram dosages and can be prescribed by any licensed physician for the relief of pain, but not for opioid addiction. Although it\’s a truly stellar pain reliever, many doctors outside of the pain management field refuse to prescribe it because it\’s unpredictable and hard to dose correctly. Suboxone is usually prescribed only for opioid maintenance and withdrawal, but it does have some analgesic activity and can be prescribed for that purpose. This duality is a problem when it comes to employment.

Many jobs, such as pilot, school bus driver and commercial driver, severely restrict drug use of any kind. This includes, but is not limited to, all drugs of abuse, prescribed or not. It can also include non-controlled prescription medications, such an anti-seizure drugs, blood thinners and also insulin. This isn\’t necessarily due to the drugs\’ effects on performance but rather the medical conditions behind them.

Although marijuana use has medical applications and is permitted for such in most states, it will always disqualify a driver or pilot from duty. It doesn\’t matter if the use is legal or not. Indeed, some 15 states as of this writing have legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use. Its use will still keep you out of certain professions and can easily get you fired from them.

However, Suboxone and methadone aren\’t necessarily related to a history of opioid abuse, and that\’s the defining line. While a documented history of opioid abuse will almost certainly disqualify you from certain jobs, the mere use of Suboxone itself may not. In some cases, a doctor\’s statement saying that the drug is only being used for pain relief without any history of opioid abuse may make a difference. However, in many cases this won\’t make any difference because the potential side effects of both Suboxone and methadone, especially the risk of drowsiness, is the same no matter the reason behind their use.

Any Quesions?

We\’re available 24 hours a day at 833-820-2922 to answer all your questions about Suboxone, drug testing or other substance abuse issues. Our professional counselors are here to help you, and we look forward to your call.

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