Last updated: September 28, 2020
Suboxone was coined a “blockbuster” medication in the fight against opioid addiction and withdrawal in 2013. It’s designed with a two drug combination; Buprenorphine and Naloxone, which together help to wean addicts off more potent opioids while minimizing the withdrawal effects and symptoms often experienced by abusers.
Buprenorphine; the partial agonist and active opioid component in Suboxone, releases smaller opioid doses into the bloodstream and partially triggers opioid receptors in the brain. Unfortunately, This sometimes invites continued use opioid abusers such as painkiller or heroin addicts.
Reasons to conduct a Suboxone drug test
Because Buprenorphine, the active narcotic component of Suboxone, is not one of the opioids included in a standard 5 panel drug test, a more comprehensive test, such as a 12 panel drug test, should be conducted to identify use of this drug.
The Department of Transportation requires a specific 5 panel drug test for pre-employment screenings of job applicants, which unfortunately doesn’t include Buprenorphine. If you’re concerned that an applicant may be under the influence of Suboxone, administer a 12 panel drug test to detect use.
Random drug tests are an effective way to deter your employees from consuming drugs during employment. By ensuring that every employee has an equal chance of being chosen and by keeping the frequency of drug tests random, will increase the chances of employee compliance.
Post-accident drug testing is a means of deterring employees from consuming drugs during their employment. By requiring employees to take drug tests after workplace mishaps not only increases workplace safety but can also save your company from the hefty costs associated with HR-related lawsuits and workers compensation claims.
Reasonable suspicion drug tests are administered to employees who show signs of being under the influence of drugs like Suboxone. Some of the characteristics of Suboxone abuse can be restlessness, unpredictable mood swings, hot/cold flashes, as well as teary eyes. If you observe employees with these types of symptoms, a 12 panel drug test should be employed to detect Buprenorphine, the active opioid component in Suboxone.
Return to duty
An employee who previously tested positive for an illicit drug such as Suboxone should be given a return to duty drug test before returning . This will ensure the safety of all employees, compliance with your drug free workplace program, and avoidance of HR-related lawsuits.
How is a Suboxone drug test conducted?
Urine and hair drug tests are the two methods used to screen for Suboxone. Unfortunately, DOT regulated companies are mandated to employ urine drug screenings through a 5 panel drug test, which will fail to detect Buprenorphine, the active opioid component in the prescription medication. Thus, it’s up to the discretion of the employer to administer a 12 panel drug test, utilizing either hair or urine, to screen for use.
Urine drug test
Urine drug tests are the standard means of drug testing by regulatory authorities such as the Department of Transportation and are often the cheapest means of screening for drugs in the workplace. Buprenorphine; the active opioid component found in Suboxone, can be detected in the urine within 40 minutes of ingestion and can stay in the system for longer than 9 days.
In order to properly administer a urine drug test, both the collection specialist and employee must maintain visual contact of the specimen container throughout the duration of the drug screening. The employee will provide at least a 45mm sample of urine into the specimen container, which will then be capped, taped, and initialed to demonstrate that the specimen was not tampered with. The collection specialist will maintain positive control over all specimen containers until arriving back at the lab for testing.
Although urine drug testing is the most widely used means of specimen collection in the workplace, it also requires gender specific collection specialists and dedicated bathrooms to conduct the drug screenings. This can cost a company additional time and money when complying with their drug free workplace program.
Mouth swab drug test
Mouth swabs are the most efficient and effective means of drug testing available today. They can detect recent drug consumption hours before urine drug tests and days before the metabolites show up in hair follicles. Beyond this, specimen collection takes mere moments and can be done out in the open without the need for private bathrooms or gender specific collection specialists. With convenience though, comes cost. Mouth swab drug tests tend to be more expensive than other forms of drug testing which can deter certain employers from investing in their use.
Hair follicle drug test
A collection specialist must obtain about 150mg of hair, from as close to the scalp or body as possible, for a 12 panel drug test to be conducted effectively. This equates to a collection of nearly 300, 1.5 inch long strands of hair, which can be obtained from different parts of the body and/or scalp to acquire the necessary specimen size.
The biggest advantage of choosing a hair follicle drug test when screening for Suboxone is the reliability of the test. Although it’s more expensive and takes longer to show up in hair follicles than in urine, the window of detection can be as early as 7 days and as long as 90 days. The test is also very difficult to cheat on or alter, which deems it to be the most efficient and effective means of testing for the active opioid component, Buprenorphine.