If you’re actively trying to recover from a substance use disorder and have made changes to help you achieve a happier and healthier lifestyle, chances are the last thing you want is a positive drug test at work.
Testing positive for drugs is often grounds for firing or other severe consequences, and can put your career in jeopardy.
Those who are recovering from an Opioid Use Disorder in particular might find this worrying as the medication typically given during treatment – Suboxone – is a partial opiate.
To help inform you about Suboxone and whether it will show up on a drug test, we’ve put together this quick guide to give you all the answers. This article will cover:
- What Suboxone is
- Whether it shows up on drug tests
- Whether companies test for Suboxone before employment
- If you should disclose your use of Suboxone to your employer.
Let’s get started!
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a prescription medication widely used within the treatment program for Opioid Use Disorder.
It is comprised of two active ingredients, buprenorphine and naloxone, which work together to create a powerful and effective medication for those who are trying to beat opioid addiction.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means that it attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain.
This allows for mild opioid-like effects to be experienced by the user in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms and help the body adjust to life without full opioids.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that works to reverse the effects of any opioids currently in the user’s system.
This means that you should only ever use the medication under the supervision of a licensed medical professional.
Does Suboxone Show up on a Drug Test?
No. Suboxone does not show up on a routine drug test unless it is specifically tested for.
The routine drug test most commonly used is known as a “five-panel drug test.” This type of drug test has earned this name because it tests for five different substances: marijuana/cannabis, phencyclidine, cocaine, amphetamines, and opioid drugs.
While the test checks for opioid drugs and Suboxone is a “partial opiate,” the specific ingredients of Suboxone do not flag the opiate portion of the testing.
It is also thought that it is unlikely for Suboxone to cause a false positive on any routine drug test.
This means that even if you are taking Suboxone and you undergo a routine drug test, the person doing the testing will not know you’re on Suboxone unless you tell them.
Even other drug panel tests such as the “10-panel drug test” will not show Suboxone!
Do Companies Test for Suboxone for Employment?
Most companies use the aforementioned standard drug test when screening potential and current employees, which means that they typically do not test for Suboxone.
However, employers do get to choose which drugs they screen. If they decide that Suboxone is something that they wish to screen, they can order additional tests that check specifically for buprenorphine and its metabolites.
This usually comes in the form of a urine test or a blood test that specifically tests for Suboxone.
Should You Let Your Employer Know You’re Taking Suboxone Before a Test?
Whether or not you tell your employer that you’re taking Suboxone is up to you. However, it is a good idea for several reasons.
Firstly, the work that you do may need to be adjusted due to your Suboxone intake.
Suboxone can cause drowsiness, and if that occurs, it is recommended that you do not drive or operate heavy machinery.
If you work a job that requires the operation of machinery or vehicles, you should let your employer know so that your work can be adjusted to accommodate your Suboxone prescription.
Secondly, recovery can be a tough and mentally challenging battle. You might find yourself going through mood swings and experiencing physical symptoms, all of which can affect your performance at work.
Not only is it courteous to explain your changes in mood and demeanor to your employer, but it also opens up an additional support network to help you get back on track.
Your employer cannot reprimand you for taking Suboxone, as the American Disabilities Act protects those recovering from substance abuse disorders who are not actually taking drugs from experiencing workplace discrimination.
This means that as long as you are not currently taking opiates, your employer cannot fire you for taking Suboxone.
The Bottom Line
Suboxone is a powerful tool for treating opiate addiction, and users need not worry about the medication showing up on a drug test despite the fact that it is a partial opiate.
Most employers use a standard five-panel drug test which does not test for the ingredients of Suboxone, so they do not have to know you are on the medication unless you tell them.
However, it is a good idea to let your employer know that you are on Suboxone. This is so that they can support you during your recovery journey, and can adjust your work responsibilities if need be.