If you've made the decision to taper off from Suboxone, congratulations. We'll assume you're ready for this move with the right frame of mind, so we'll focus on when you'll be ready to take a drug test.
A major benefit of coming off Suboxone will be that you can safely take a drug test again and get your career back on track. While Suboxone is a legitimate treatment for opioid dependence, it's understandable that you may prefer to keep this detail from your past private.
So, when it comes to drug testing, how long does a detox taper of Suboxone stay in your system? What can you do if you're tested too soon or if your taper is unsuccessful?
Is Suboxone detected in drug tests?
An active ingredient in Suboxone is the opioid buprenorphine. This does not break down into morphine, so unlike opiates like heroin and codeine, it isn't usually detected on standard 5-panel drug tests.
That said, buprenorphine has been increasingly abused by some people, so more and more testing labs are incorporating it into their range of extended drug tests. You can also be specifically tested for buprenorphine in some cases.
So, how long does a detox taper of Suboxone stay in your system?
When you take Suboxone at a prescribed dose and then suddenly stop, it usually takes 2-4 days before you can pass a urine drug test or 1-3 days for a saliva drug test. But how will your detox taper affect this?
It may seem logical that because you've been tapering off, you will be able to pass a drug test sooner. There may be some truth to this, but it's impossible to predict how much difference it will make, if at all.
For example, Suboxone is usually prescribed at relatively high doses to start with, so even towards the end of your taper, you might still be getting a fair amount of buprenorphine. On the other hand, if your final doses are miniscule, you may actually be starting to detox already.
With this uncertainty, we would usually recommend testing yourself, but testing kits for buprenorphine are harder to get and relatively expensive. You would probably be better off spending that money on a detox drink or a special mouthwash, depending on the sort of drug test you need to take. This will protect you even if you fail to taper off completely in time, although you should still aim to minimize your dosage as much as possible.
If you don't expect to be immediately tested, you could start a week-long detox program as your taper ends. On finishing this, you should be ready for any urine, blood, or saliva drug test.
Unfortunately, no matter how good a detox you have, you'll always need some kind of detox shampoo for hair drug tests, because drug metabolites will be permanently locked into your hair strands. It's actually only the length of the hair of the sample (usually the most recent inch and a half) that limits the detection time to around 90 days.