Does Suboxone Show up in a Drug Test?

Does Suboxone show up in a drug test? It can, yes. Whether or not the drug is detected depends on the kind of drug test used. The smaller ones, like the 5 and 10 panel drug screens, only reveal commonly abused drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, true opiates, THC and perhaps MDMA. The smaller panel tests will not find the narcotic in Suboxone, called buprenorphine, because the test is only looking for metabolites of opiates, not opioids. Opiates are substances found naturally in the opium poppy. These include morphine and codeine. Although heroin is technically an opioid and not an opiate, it will still be detected by an opiate screen because it breaks down into morphine once in the body. Further lab testing will be able to tell if the morphine came from codeine, heroin or morphine itself.

What are Metabolites?

A metabolite is a substance or substances produced when the body breaks a drug down. Very few drugs stay in their original form. Heroin breaks down to morphine and other metabolites, hydrocodone to hydromorphone and oxycodone to oxymorphone. Morphine is an exception. It stays in its original form and is eliminated as morphine as well. Codeine is naturally present in the opium poppy and morphine is also its main metabolite. In fact, codeine is a prodrug. It has no effect until the body breaks it down into morphine. Typically, about 3 to 10 percent of the codeine dose is converted to morphine. This wide range cannot be predicted ahead of time and can cause overdose issues in infants and children under 12. This is why many pediatricians don\’t prescribe the drug to their small patients.

Drugs can have more than one metabolite, and these can be minor, major and even inactive. Drug tests work by looking for these metabolites, and since these metabolites are known, it\’s very hard to dispute the results. Of course, false positives are possible and do happen, but all positive results are confirmed by gas chromatogrpahy or some similar procedure. GC reads the actual molecules present in a sample, leaving just about zero room for doubt. If your positive drug test is confirmed by a laboratory, you will not be able to deny taking the substance in question.

Beware the 22 Panel Drug Test

The more sophisticated drug tests are very expensive, so not all employers use them. In general, law enforcement uses the lower panel tests, too. They simply can\’t afford a $300 drug test for everyone they supervise. However, some employers may feel the money is worth it, especially for certain sensitive jobs. In this case, beware! These high panel tests reveal:

  • Cocaine
  • PCP
  • THC
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines and meprobamate
  • MDMA, molly and ecstasy
  • Ketamine

Wait a minute, that\’s just the non-opioids! These tests detect a truly impressive number of opioids:

  • Buprenorphine and methadone
  • Tramadol
  • Meperidine
  • Butorphanol
  • Naltrexone and naloxone
  • Pentazocine
  • Propoxyphene
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, heroin, codeine and morphine
  • Tramadol
  • Hydromorphone
  • Nalbuphine

It even detects methaqualone, also known as Quaalude, long off the market in the United States. The same is true of propoxyphene, formerly known as Darvon or Darvocet when mixed with acetaminophen. Pentazocine, nalbuphine and especially butorphanol are not in common use at all and would be highly unlikely to be present in a urine sample, but it\’s tested for, anyway. As you can see, buprenorphine is definitely on the list. Although not technically opioids, both naltrexone and naloxone are used for opioid maintenance treatment, so an employer might want to know about that.

Delta 8

Also be aware that delta 8, the isomer of delta 9, the intoxicating compound found in marijuana, would likely be detected on a THC drug screen. Delta 8 is sold in a number of states, mostly as edibles and dabs for vaping. Even if recreational marijuana is legal in your state, a potential employer can still refuse to hire you if you test positive for any type of THC. You could also be fired. Be aware that when THC is used chronically, it can take several weeks to leave your system.


If you have any concerns about drug testing, we can help. Just call us anytime at 833-610-1174 and a professional drug counselor will be happy to answer your questions.

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