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How long does buprenorphine stay in your system?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Feb 8, 2024.

Official answer


After one sublingual or buccal dose, buprenorphine stays in your system for about 5 to 8 days if you are healthy or 7 to 12 days if you have liver disease.

How long buprenorphine stays in your system will mainly depend upon which form of buprenorphine you use, its elimination half-life (t1/2), and if you have liver disease.

  • The half-life is the time it takes for half of the drug to be broken down and excreted from the body.
  • It usually takes 5 half-lives for a drug to be fully cleared from your body, but this can vary based on age, weight, genetics, your medical conditions, or other medicines you take.

Without liver disease

If you do not have liver disease, the elimination half-life of buprenorphine has been reported to be 26 hours for the transdermal form, 28 hours for the buccal form, and 31 to 35 hours for the sublingual forms, respectively. The intravenous (IV) formulation has a half life of 2.2 hours, and the long-acting subcutaneous depot injection form has a half-life of 43 to 60 days due to its slow release.

Considering that it takes about 5 half-lives for a drug to be eliminated from the body:

  • Using the transdermal (skin) patch form, buprenorphine stays in the system for about 130 hours (about 5 to 6 days).
  • Following buccal administration (placed in the cheek area to dissolve) buprenorphine is detectable for up to 140 hours (about 6 days).
  • Following sublingual (under the tongue) administration buprenorphine stays in the system for 155 to 175 hours (about 6 to 8 days). Norbuprenorphine, the potent active metabolite of buprenorphine, is detectable for 60 to 105 hours (about 2.5 to 5 days) following sublingual administration
  • If given by the intravenous (IV) formulation, buprenorphine stays in your system for about 11 hours.
  • The long-acting depot injection formulation may be detectable for up to 10 months after your last dose. However, one study found that buprenorphine could still be detected 22 to 38 months following the last Sublocade injection.

With liver disease

The length of time that buprenorphine remains in the body is prolonged in patients with moderate to severe liver disease.

  • In patients with moderate liver disease, the buprenorphine half-life is increased by 35%.
  • If you have severe liver disease, the buprenorphine half-life is increased by 57%.

If you have liver disease, buprenorphine will remain in your system longer and your doctor may need to lower your dose, or you may not be able to use buprenorphine at all.

See Buprenorphine Dosage for detailed information on buprenorphine dosage and administration.

How does buprenorphine come?

Buprenorphine is a partial opiate agonist used to manage moderate to severe pain and to treat opioid use disorder. Not all buprenorphine products are used to treat both pain and opioid addiction. Uses differ among products.

Buprenorphine comes as a single agent in several dosage forms:

  • an immediate-release injection (intravenous or intramuscular)
  • a long-acting subcutaneous injection (depot formulation)
  • a long-acting skin (transdermal) patch
  • a buccal film (placed in the cheek area to dissolve)
  • a sublingual tablet (placed under the tongue to dissolve)

Do not switch from any product that contains buprenorphine to another buprenorphine product without speaking to your doctor or other healthcare provider first. The amount of buprenorphine differs between products and can be dangerous or deadly if you switch. This includes products combined with naloxone and used for opioid use disorder.

Single agent buprenorphine brands include:

  • Sublocade: an extended-release subcutaneous buprenorphine injection (depot formulation) given once a month for the treatment of opioid use disorder. This product does not contain naloxone. It is used in patients who have started treatment with a buprenorphine containing product, followed by dose adjustment for a minimum of 7 days. It is not used to treat pain.
  • Butrans: an extended-release, transdermal (skin patch) formulation approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate-to-severe chronic (long-lasting) pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.
  • Belbuca: a buprenorphine buccal film used to treat pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate. Buccal films are placed on the inside cheek area to dissolve.
  • Buprenex: an injection used to manage pain severe enough to require an opioid analgesic and for which alternate treatments are inadequate. It can be given by intravenous or intramuscular injection.
  • Buprenorphine sublingual tablets are used to treat opioid addiction as part of a treatment program that also includes counseling and behavioral therapy. Buprenorphine sublingual tablets are not for use as a pain medication.

Single-agent buprenorphine also comes generically as transdermal patch, sublingual tablet, and IV injection. Generic medicines can usually save you money.

How does buprenorphine / naloxone come?

Buprenorphine is also combined with naloxone, an opioid antagonist, to treat opioid addiction as part of a complete treatment program that involves counseling and behavioral therapy.

These products include:

  • Suboxone: available as a sublingual / buccal film
  • Zubsolv: comes as a sublingual tablet

Both the buccal / sublingual film and the sublingual tablet combination products are available as generic options.

Learn more: Is buprenorphine the same as Suboxone?

This is not all the information you need to know about buprenorphine for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full buprenorphine information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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