Buprenorphine half life

The half life of buprenorphine is between 24-60 hours. Learn why buprenorphine half life is so long and the difference between half life and distribution half life here.

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The duration of action of a drug is known as its half life. Relative to other opioids, the half life of buprenorphine (24-60 hours) is moderately high. Why is this? And how can it benefit buprenorphine users? We review here.

Types of half life

When pharmacists talk about the half life of a drug, certain principles describe the actions of a drug on the body. One is distribution half life. The other is elimination half life.

Distribution half life of buprenorphine = 2-5 hours
Elimination half life of buprenorphine = 24-60 hours

1. Distribution half life – The absorption of buprenorphine is followed by a rapid distribution phase. The distribution half life is amount of time it takes for half of buprenorphine to be distributed throughout the body. Buprenorphine is widely distributed, and takes has a distribution half life of 2-5 hours. But this should not be confused with the time it takes for buprenorphine to leave the body, which is much longer.

2. Elimination half life – The elimination half life of any drug, medication or substance is the period of time necessary for half the drug to be eliminated or disintegrated by natural processes in the body. We usually talk about this type of half life, when describing the action of a drug. The average elimination half life for buprenorphine from plasma is around 32-35 hours.

Half life of buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has a long half life because it is highly bound to plasma proteins. In addition, Buprenorphine has poor oral bioavailability and moderate sublingual bioavailability. This means that buprenorphine is better absorbed by the body when dissolved under the tongue than when swallowed orally.

Benefits of a long half life

The relatively long half life of buprenorphine has been designed to help treat and manage opiate withdrawal symptoms, by maintaining opioid partial agonist levels in the brain. But the main advantage of the long half life of buprenorphine is that this makes once daily dosing for opiate addiction treatment possible. With the ease of administration, people can start to live more normal lives. Sometimes the long half life of buprenorphine makes it possible to delay doses or to switch to alternate day dosing. And with an average half-life of approximately 35 hours, 48 hour and 72 hour dosing is theoretically possible.

Buprenorphine questions

Do you have other questions about buprenorphine? Please leave them here. We will be happy to help you.

Reference sources: Daily Med drug info on buprenorphine
The effectiveness of community maintenance with methadone or buprenorphine for treating opiate dependence
SAMHSA TAP 30 on buprenorphine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. I have a brain tumor that causes frequent intense head pain. I find that small doses of subutex taken throughout the day provide the best relief for me. I use 1/2 mg of subutex up to 8 times a day. With the addition of monthly Aimovig injection(a recent addition) provides me the best relief I have experienced over the last 15 years of suffering.

  2. If I took 6mg of Buprenorphine once daily from 7/4-7/11, how long do you suppose it would take to get out of my system for a drug test?

  3. The best way to keep weight and not lose it I am only on a 1/4 of a 8mg strip twice a day but seem to be losing it fast

  4. I have had chronic pancreatitis for 12 or so years. The only drug that came close to relieving my pain was Temgesics. Averaged out, I probably took 1 a day for this 12 year period. Nine weeks ago I had neuromodulation therapy (subcutaneous nerve stimulator) which has greatly reduced my pain levels to the extent that I do not require temgesics. I have only had two temgesics in this nine week period. Even after nine weeks I am suffering strong withdrawal symptoms (dizziness, light headed, vomiting, sore eyes, insomnia, sweeting, loss of appetite with weight loss – 10kg).
    I was wondering if you could advise me as to how long my withdrawal symptoms will last.
    Many thanks.

  5. The very long half life of SUBOXONE, plus the fact that buprenorphine is just a partial agonist, means a relatively mild withdrawal syndrome from Suboxone. Twice I had to go a full week without any Suboxone. Both times I had no symptoms that I’d describe as severe.

  6. My fiancee got arrested a week ago, thus being forced to stop taking Suboxone cold turkey. He is at a low dose, about4_6 mg a day. He snorted these pills as well. The first few days he felt fine, but not so much the last two days. How long will the WD last?

  7. I just started zubsolv yesterday for an opiate addiction I took two yesterday 12 hours apart and it really messed me up is it okay to take a half a pill?

  8. If I take 1 mg of suboxone will it be out of my system in 3 days? I haven’t taken suboxone for a year now so I’m not a frequent user.

  9. Hey I recently stopped two pain meds given to me by pain Mgt for the last 71/2 years. They never once told me would I like to know how it would be to stop them. It has been hell. But I stopped them and after 7 days I started taking Subutex once a day and never more than 4 mg per day and this has been for around 4-5 weeks. What kind of wean schedule if any do you think I need. I do NOT want to feel bad but I also don’t want to stay on this too long. Not one day have I gotten up and wanted pain medicine I think I was so ready to be done with it and feel “normal” again. Please help!! thanks

    1. Hi Mila. I suggest that you consult with your doctor to help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

  10. If a person has taken suboxone/subutex for 10 years how long until all of it is out of their system completely? Thanks

    1. Hi Genie. It all depends from the human body itself, the tolerance level, metabolism, time of use, etc.

  11. yes i have taken 2 8/2 suboxone a day for over one year and when i took my drug screen it said their was NO suboxone in my system at all.I was wondering how I showed up negative for Buprenorphine?

  12. I put myself on subbie’s yesterday, took 8mg around 2:15pm. Been up all night, not too bad. used methadone before but to drive that out my system, I used gear for 12 days. last bag was yesterday, ten pound bag. now I dont want subbie. not for me. because I tokk 8mg yesterday. its now 7:30am and im still clinging to the radiator lol, legs have simmered down. I know if I go the chemist and get todays dose ill be laughing. But,,,, im giving it till 2 or 3 and im scoring. will it work??????? Half life is different for everyone. ill let you’s know

  13. I have been on 75 mcg of Fentynal and 15 mg IR of morphene sulfate. I had some extra suboxin left over from a prior attempt to detox before a surgery. I have been cutting my 15 IR’s down to 7.5 mg a x2 a day. I took a 2mg of Suboxin earlier and then received a phone call from a new pain management Dr. that is willing to take on my case. (30+ surgeries on my jaw has led to all of this). My question is this, How long will it take to clear my system before I can get back on my original prescription?

  14. I took a zubsolv yesterday around 3/4pm. I am in a half-way house for a DUI. I haven’t had any problems there but I am concerned because I am being released and they are going to do a UA on me. Is buprenorphine commonly tested for? Or do they have to do a special test for it? I’ve read so much mixed info I can’t tell what is true and some of it so old. If it commonly tested for, should I be concerned. it was a 5.7mg/1.4mg. I will probably be UA’ed tonight. These subs really help me but I don’t have a prescription. I so have prescriptions for naltrexone, valium, ambien and campbrall. I took subs the whole time I was on pre-trial and had no problems. Please help I’m freaking out. I have been taking Kratom to help with my anxiety and had no problems with that on pre-trial either but I’m thinking they want to put me on a sleeptime monitor…. How will all this affect me?

  15. Hi ivana ive been to see my doctor 3-4 times since ive been home and they don’t even wanna give me any paracetamol or ibuprofen ive tryed a few other over the counter meds like buscopan or immodium when my stomachs been bad but they’ve just made me feel worse so im just trying to eat good food and exercise tbh i think its the only way i take my dogs out a few times a day i think i just need to keep at what im doing becos i know eventually i will feel right its just stayin positive and patient them are the key things and keeping sight on how far ive come im over 12months off illicits and 5 weeks off my subutex 🙂

    1. That’s good to hear Carlos. Keeping yourself well hydrated and eating real and healthy food, plus light exercise can be truly beneficial. I wish you a good recovery and don’t forget that the nourishment of the mind is just as important.

  16. Hi!
    Im on 24Mg subutex daily. But now I wanna get high on oxycontin. I got myself a handful of those oxy 80Mg, but using them while on subutex is pointless. How many days should I wait before taking the oxy? I mean how many days before the subutex is out of body?

  17. Hey there again im at 4weeks and 2 ddaysoff the subutex and still got aches and pain in my joints and muscles id have thought it would have gone by now but i guess not any idea how long p.a.w.s can last and the lack of sleep is making me feel crap ive started smokin some strong indica weed of a night to knock myself out.

    1. Hi Carlos. Protracted withdrawal symptoms can last a lot longer. Some people take months to fully recover. Is your doctor prescribing you anything for the treatment of the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing. If not, you can speak to a pharmacist at the local pharmacy to recommend over-the-counter medications that can help minimize the withdrawal discomfort.

  18. Ive not had any cravings think when i writ the last comment i was feelin like crap i am starting to feel better day by day all ive been told by the doc to take is paracetamol cos the ibuprofen were makin me feel worse and burning my stomach ive gotto see the doc today to find out the results of my liver function test because they told me it isn’t filtering well i think its down to the years i spent on subutex and the drugs i took before ive been off the subz for 3 weeks and a day today and i feel ive opened a new chapter in my life im doing some mentoring work tomorrow and am looking forward to helping out at my community substance misuse team office 🙂

  19. Hi im experiencing the usual cramped legs and arms and lack of sleep sneezes headaches i just hope it doesn’t last too much longer i dnt know how much i can take anymore its making me think maybe i should have stayed on the subutex for life 🙁

    1. Hi Carlos. The long-term effects of buprenorphine bring along many potential health risks and organ damages. So, actually detoxing and finally quitting the medication has less risks than staying on it forever. Have you consulted a doctor before you quit Subutex and are you treating the withdrawal symptoms in any way? You can help yourself at home by using mild pain relievers such as Tylenol or ibuprofen for body aches and other pains. You can also take warm baths and use heating pads when you experience physical pain. Ask your doctor if you are eligible for Naloxone treatment. Naloxone is a medication that binds competitively at the opiate receptors in the brain and can help you with psychological symptoms and cravings.

  20. Hi ive been discharged from a detox unit after 2 weeks and was on 8mg i was being treated with lefexidine and tapered down off the lefex slowly and felt ok until i got home i feel strong to beat this but could do with some advice on what i can do to make things more comfortable for myself what would you advise…Its 2 weeks since my last 8mg

    1. Hi Carlos. How are you feeling? And which particular symptoms of withdrawal are you experiencing? Generally, you can treat individual symptoms by using over-the-counter medications you can buy at the pharmacy. Also, going to counseling sessions and visiting a licensed psychologist can be of great benefit and ensure your long-term sobriety.

  21. If a person takes 3 – 4mg subutex over 2-3 days then no more, how long will it show up in a doc’s blood and urine screen?. Most of the info here says half-life of 36 hrs or so. Another site says that although the half-life is hours, it can stay in your system for 20-30 days?

    1. Hello Johnny. The elimination half-life is different form detection time in blood or urine drug tests. Although buprenorphine has a longer detection window in chronic users who take larger doses for a longer period of time, it’s generally detectable in urine up to 4 days after ingestion. Detection time for buprenorphine in blood samples is not available. Of course, there are many factors that contribute to whether or not a person will test positive on drug tests for buprenoprhine after 4 days time.

  22. Hi Arlyia. What is your prescribed dose of suboxone? It’s best and safest to start by gradually reducing your designated dosage, with medical help for the withdrawal symptoms that may occur as you taper doses down and after you quit. You’ll need a tapering schedule for that, while the withdrawal symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter medications, but you might also need a doctor’s supervision.

  23. I need to get suboxone out of my system QUICKLY how do I do that? Will vitam B do that? or any other vitamin flush it out of the liver faster? I have a total of Drinking a lot of water, eating a lot of lettuce, taking vitamin 12, and or B anything quickly to remove it Quickly? It is very important please HELP me where amgoing DOESchck for it

  24. i have been taking any where from 8mg-16mg of subutex every other day or every 3 days I stopped taking it Friday night and it’s Saturday night and I was wondering when it would b outta my urine I understand the half life but just want a straight answer also I should say that I inject it not snort or take it by mouth Plz help thank you

  25. I am pretty much cold turkey quitting subs after being on them for about or over 5 yrs. I’m wondering how bad and how long the withdrawals , physical, ones will last?? PLEASE HELP!!!

  26. Hey every one I took an 8mg film 8 days ago then a 8mg film the next day I have a drug test on the 8th of october because I am on probation I am always positive they will test for it and im not prescribed do any of you think I will test positive eif its been 7 days from last does my freedom depends on it thank you

  27. I’ve noticed that in my case, the elimination half-life of Suboxone is only around 20 hours at absolute most. I’m prescribed Tegretol (carbamazepine) as part of my medication cocktail and I’m a relatively heavy smoker. These two factors of course mean hepatic enzyme induction, which could easily be to blame for the Suboxone being eliminated at a more rapid rate than most would experience. I find that I start to feel noticeable withdrawal symptoms at around the 18 hour mark after my dose. I’m on 18 mg/d, as a result of the fact that prior to this dose, I would often start to feel withdrawals at around the 12 hour mark. However, I find on days where I smoke considerably less, or not at all, the onset of withdrawals is delayed rather noticeably.

    One last thing, I’ve had some mishaps with my Suboxone, despite receiving full carries-14 days- based on Ontario’s prescribing regulations and 4 years of demonstrated sobriety and abstinence. These mishaps are often gagging/puking while the tablets are under my tongue, causing me to puke the tablets out. This is in part due to the fact that one of my main withdrawal symptoms is fairly profound gagging, which the unbearable taste of Suboxone aggravates like all get out. One other mishap that I can recall offhand was when my Zippo lighter fell off of my medication lockbox and onto my last day’s Suboxone tablets, utterly obliterating them. I was left with at most 2 mg. The day was a nightmare. While I’ve had worse withdrawal symptoms when I was using, it was still pure hell. I’ve been told many times by many medical professionals that missing a day’s dose shouldn’t be a problem, but I beg to differ. I find that I’m extremely sensitive to variations in dosage and that missing a day’s dose or taking a lower dose always causes problems, even if a full dose was taken the day before.

    My point is that while Suboxone is touted as having quite a long elimination half-life, I find that many (if not most) practitioners fail to take into consideration factors such as enzyme inducing medications and/or smoking when setting a dose and dosing regimen. These issues make a world of difference when it comes to avoiding withdrawals when on a Suboxone regimen.

  28. Does a 6mg dose of subutex partially block opiates+if so how long for?Does 8mg fully block any heroin use+if so would that last a full 24hours or do you have to take the blocking dose regularly(like everyday)for it to be affective as a blocker?

  29. Helpful Info. I began suboxone while detoxing from methadone….??? How effective is syboxone for pain mgmt??? How horrible is suboxone withdrawal?? Long term effects of suboxone ascrelated to pain control????

  30. Does an 8mg dose of Subutex have a longer half life than 2mg? Why do they use the half life scale? Why can’t they just say 4mg of Subutex lasts for 72 hours? Does injecting Subutex reduce the life of the drug? Thanks for you help.

  31. Hi Chris. The minimum effective concentration (MEC) for cases of moderate to severe pain is in the region of 100 pg/ml. Perhaps your levels are falling below these? From what I’ve read, patches are good for about 96 hours…check out this study for more information. You can also do a search for: site:.gov buprenorphine patch in your internet browser.


  32. Question- I am on a 20mcg Buprenorphine patch 7 day. It seems by day 5 the med has begun losing its effectiveness and by day 6 I’m in a lot of pain. I’m pretty sure it is no longer in my system by day 7. is there any record of the med being absorbed at different rates by different people.

  33. @Sara No it won’t be out of your system but it is not something you would be getting tested for, most likely. It does not come with most all “normal” drug test kits and his actually either too difficult to test for or exspensive. Hence you wont BE tested for it. GL, know its late but for anyone else wondering. Hope it helps.

  34. I’ve been taking Methadone for about 5 years once a day. I’ve been trying desperately to get off completely, however it seem the half life of this drug is making it very difficult and taking forever. I had taken Bup in the past for oxy withdrawl when I told my pain doc I was done with Rx for pain. The pain returned with a vengance and they recommended methadone (which is even worse in my opinion).
    I’m told I have to be 48 hours into complete withdrawl from the mehtadone before I take the Bup and I can manage that. I would be making the switch from the Methadone to the Bup for the express purpose of getting off of both drugs and making the withdrawl process faster and easier than it has been. My question is…Considering that the half life of Bup is half that of Methadone, will my effort to titrate down to nothing go faster and easier on the Bupinorphine. I’m getting desperate and with work and my responsibilities I can’t spend 4-6 weeks in agonizing withdrawl from going cold turkey. I have to be able to function.
    Thank you for this site and especially the expert opinion.

  35. I took less than a quarter of an 8mg film today around 4:00. I have a urinalysis coming up later this week & was wondering will it be out of my system in time?

  36. Hello no name. Why have you decided to stop taking Subutex? What’s the trigger or decision process that compels you to use heroin again?

  37. hi I was wondering how long it is before i can use heroin after taking subutex. I have been taking 16mg a day for 4 months now and not had no subuter since sunday morning and it is now monday night abd i feel fine. how long is it before it is totally out my system thank you

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