For people recovering from long-term opiate addiction, maintaining abstinence on a continual basis can be especially difficult. Long-term addictions tend to leave the brain in a weakened state in terms of its ability to regulate the body’s functions as normal. Under these conditions, medication therapies such as Suboxone treatment become necessary.
Suboxone, one of two brand names for buprenorphine, is specifically designed to treat the types of residual withdrawal effects that make ongoing abstinence so difficult to come by. Suboxone works by blocking opiates from triggering chemical reactions in the brain.
The length of time Suboxone can block opiates depends on different factors that influence the rate at which the body metabolizes the drug. Understanding how Suboxone treatment works can give you a better idea of how long Suboxone’s blocking effects will last.
Feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-429-5210 to ask about available Suboxone treatment options.
How Does Suboxone Block Opiates?
Suboxone is a synthetic opiate drug that contains two ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine, a synthetic opiate agent, occupies the same brain cell receptor sites as addictive opiate drugs and thereby prevents addictive opiates from forcing these cells to release excess amounts of neurotransmitter chemicals. According to the Journal of Psychiatry, buprenorphine’s effects work to support normal chemical secretion rates, which helps to restore a normal chemical balance in the brain.
Naloxone, the second ingredient in Suboxone, also occupies affected cell sites, but does so for the purpose of discouraging a person from relapsing back into old drug-using behaviors. In effect, someone who abuses opiates while on Suboxone will experience severe withdrawal symptoms due to naloxone’s blocking effects.
Suboxone Half-Life Effects
A drug’s half-life duration marks the amount of time it takes for the body to metabolize and eliminate half of what was ingested in terms of dosage amount. In effect, a drug’s half-life helps determine how long its intended effects will last.
According to the Food & Drug Administration, Suboxone’s buprenorphine ingredient has a half-life duration of 37 hours, whereas the naloxone portion has a half-life of 1.1 hours. This means, 37 hours after taking Suboxone, half of the buprenorphine portion will have left the body’s system. With naloxone, it takes just over an hour for half of what was ingested to leave the system.
The length of time Suboxone blocks opiates varies depending on a range of factors, including:
- Length of time on Suboxone
- Body weight
- How often a person takes Suboxone
- Potential drug interactions
Each of the above factors has an effect on the body’s metabolism rate, which ultimately determines how long Suboxone’s effects last. In cases of long-term Suboxone treatment, the drug has time to build up in the body’s tissues, which tends to prolong Suboxone’s ability to block opiates with each successive dose. Likewise, frequency of Suboxone use can also have the same effect.
People who take other types of medications or abuse drugs while in Suboxone treatment may experience prolonged or shorter duration effects depending on whether the other drug slows or speeds up the body’s metabolism rates.
On average, Suboxone can block opiate effects anywhere from one to three days depending on the types of factors at work.