If you're considering medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorder, you may be wondering: How long does it take for Suboxone to kick in? How long does it last? When should you take Suboxone, and how much should you use? Before using any medication, it is essential that you understand how it works and how to use it safely. And remember, you can always get expert advice on using Suboxone by booking an appointment with a clinician at our online Suboxone clinic

Suboxone is a brand name prescription medication used to treat opioid use disorder. It combines buprenorphine and naloxone to mitigate withdrawal discomfort so that you can stay focused on your path to recovery. Although Suboxone is highly effective for minimizing withdrawal symptoms, it should only be used exactly as prescribed to prevent adverse effects.

When Should You Take Suboxone?

You should take Suboxone as directed by your provider. If cravings appear, they can help you navigate this process. However, when using Suboxone for the first time, the medication can only be started after you begin to experience withdrawal symptoms.  This is usually at least 24 hours after the last dose of other opioids and sometimes longer.

Taking Suboxone too soon after other prescription or illicit opioids can lead to precipitated withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety

  • Cravings

  • Diarrhea

  • Excessive sweating

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Stomach cramping

Precipitated withdrawal is induced by medications used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) rather than withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Symptoms may be more severe than standard withdrawal and can lead to death, so it is important to discuss the substances you have used and when openly and honestly with your provider so they can recommend when to start Suboxone.

How Long Does It Take for Suboxone to Kick In?

After using a Suboxone strip, you will begin to feel relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings rather quickly.

Once you place the oral film under your tongue or in your cheek, it takes about 15 to 30 minutes to dissolve fully. The effects of Suboxone should kick in once the film has dissolved. It will take approximately three to four hours to achieve maximum results. 

Be sure to use Suboxone precisely as directed to get the desired relief from withdrawal symptoms. This medication will not work properly if you swallow it instead of dissolving it in your mouth. To avoid diluting the effects, wait at least 30 minutes after the film has dissolved before eating or drinking. It is important to note that each person will respond differently to Suboxone based on opioid use history and other factors, so your results may vary.

How Long After Suboxone Do You Feel Better?

Suboxone begins to alleviate the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and cravings within 20 to 60 minutes after your first dose. Withdrawal discomfort and opioid cravings should begin to dissipate at this time and continually fade until reaching maximum effectiveness. 

In some cases, you may not feel much better after the medication has dissolved and should have kicked in. This may mean that your dose isn't strong enough. Suboxone is available in four strengths:

  • 2 mg buprenorphine / 0.5 mg naloxone

  • 4 mg buprenorphine / 1 mg naloxone

  • 8 mg buprenorphine / 2 mg naloxone

  • 12 mg buprenorphine / 3 mg naloxone

Your provider will work with you to achieve the optimal dosage to keep discomfort at bay. Providers usually start you on the lowest dose and gradually increase it until you achieve optimal relief. If you still struggle with withdrawal symptoms after four hours, your doctor will slowly increase your dose to find the right dosage of Suboxone to keep you comfortable and minimize cravings.

How Long Does Suboxone Block Opiates?

Suboxone acts quickly and can provide relatively long-lasting effects compared to other medications for opioid use disorder. The enhanced efficacy lies in the combination of Suboxone ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone.

Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, meaning it activates the same brain receptors as opioid drugs. However, it provides a milder euphoria due to its ceiling effect.

Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, so it blocks opioids from interacting with brain receptors. When using Suboxone, the naloxone kicks in if you have misused buprenorphine, such as by injecting or snorting it or tampering with the medication. This action helps to prevent misuse. 

Using Suboxone to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms and reduce opioid cravings can offer relief for up to three days. Although the length of time Suboxone remains effective in your system depends on several factors, you can expect the medication to block the effects of opiates for about 24 hours. 

How Long Does Suboxone Stay in Your System?

Suboxone is a fast-acting medication with effects lasting approximately 24 to 72 hours. Although the effects can last up to three days, Suboxone can be detected in your system for much longer. Several factors impact how long the drug remains in your system, including:

Your metabolism

Some people naturally metabolize substances faster than others. The higher your metabolism, the faster Suboxone will leave your system.

Your weight

Drugs take longer to move through your system if you have more body fat. Your body breaks drugs down into metabolites that can accumulate in fatty tissues, slowing down their release.

Your history of substance use

If you have used substances heavily or for many years, it may take somewhat longer for Suboxone to fully clear your system.

Considering the above factors, the average length of time it takes for Suboxone to completely leave your body is five to eight days. Keep in mind that it can take longer than eight days for some individuals to fully metabolize Suboxone, so it may still show up in drug tests. For those with higher levels of body fat or a longer or heavier history of substance use, it may take up to two weeks to obtain negative results on a drug test.

Are There Suboxone Side Effects?

Although Suboxone can significantly reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, the medication itself can present side effects. Some common Suboxone side effects are:

  • Chills

  • Constipation

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Insomnia

  • Nausea and vomiting

These side effects can be perfectly normal; however, you should speak with your healthcare provider if you experience adverse effects from Suboxone. It is possible to overdose on Suboxone, so you should seek emergency care if you experience severe vomiting, abdominal pain, loss of coordination, slowed heart rate, or difficulty breathing.

Learn More About Suboxone with Confidant Health’s Online Suboxone Clinic

If you would like more information about how Suboxone can help you overcome opioid use disorder, reach out to the caring staff at Confidant Health. Our online Suboxone clinic will connect you with highly qualified prescribers who can answer all your questions and help you get started on the appropriate Suboxone regimen.