Buprenorphine (trade name Subutex®) is an opioid drug that is similar to heroin. Subutex is also known by the street names ‘subbies’, ‘temmies’ and ‘bupe’.
Buprenorphine is mainly used today as a substitute for heroin, in an attempt to relieve some of the problems associated with heroin addiction. Buprenorphine is different from Methadone and Heroin because it does not have such a strong effect on the brain. In most cases, methadone tends to work better than buprenorphine helping people stay off heroin. However, buprenorphine is still a good treatment and some people prefer it because:
- For some people, buprenorphine allows them to feel more ‘clear-headed than when using methadone.
- Some people have problems using methadone.
- Coming off of Buprenorphine tends to be easier than with methadone. For some users, methadone is taken in the long-term for ‘maintenance’. When they decide to detox, they then switch to buprenorphine.
- Buprenorphine is recognised as safer if taken in overdose than methadone.
How is Buprenorphine Taken?
Buprenorphine is a tablet which you put under your tongue. The tablet dissolves over 3-7 minutes and is absorbed straight into the bloodstream from your mouth. (The tablets do not work if you swallow them into the stomach.) It is usually prescribed as a once-daily dose.
What Are the Side Effects of Taking Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine can cause unexpected drops in blood pressure, which could result in feeling faint or fainting if you get up too quickly from a lying or sitting position. Buprenorphine can also have side effects such as headaches, insomnia, nausea and constipation. Other street drugs such as benzodiazepines (‘benzos’), and alcohol can also affect buprenorphine. So, it is best not to take any other drugs, and don’t drink too much alcohol.
What Are the Long-term Effects of Taking Buprenorphine?
Buprenorphine is addictive and overdose can occur if taken with other medication or with alcohol.
What Class of Drug Is Buprenorphine?
In the UK, Buprenorphine is a Class C drug, the maximum penalty for possession is 2 years in jail plus an unlimited fine. The maximum penalty for supplying or intent to supply is 14 years in jail plus an unlimited fine.
Does Buprenorphine show up on a Employment Drug Test?
A few years ago it was uncommon for Buprenorphine to be screened for as part of an employment drug test. However times have changed. Employers are much more aware nowadays. They know that screening for 4 or 5 commonly used drugs is not enough, especially with rise in popularity and use of New Psychoactive Substances.
A typical employer drug test will now test for up to 13 drugs, of which there’s a good chance that Buprenorphine will be one.
Will Buprenorphine Be Detected by an Opiates Drug Test Kit?
Buprenorphine will NOT be detected by an Opiates Drug Test.
The usual urine tests used to screen for heroin, oxycodone, methadone and other opioids test for a metabolite that is different to that found with buprenorphine. Patients that are maintained only with buprenorphine will not show a positive result using one of those tests.
A specific drug test for Buprenorphine will need to be used if you want to test for the drug.
Buprenorphine Drug Test Kits
Buprenorphine can be detected by a single drug test. It can also be detected on some of the larger, multi-panel drug tests. At Zoom Testing we offer a an 8 Panel Drug Test with Integrated Cup that can detect buprenorphine. Our 10 Panel, 11 panel and 12 Panel Drug Tests will also detect the drug.
How Long Can Buprenorphine Be Detected For?
A comprehensive drug screen will detect buprenorphine within 2 to 5 hours of use.
The length of time for which the drug stays in your system can vary. It is usually no longer detectable after 2-3 days, but this can be dose dependent.
Occasionally however, buprenorphine has been positively identified up to 4 days after ingestion. This is because of its long half-life (24-60 hours) and slow onset.
What is the cut-off level for Buprenorphine?
At present, most urine drug test for Buprenorphine have a set detection level of 10ng/ml.