When on medication like Suboxone for addiction recovery, drug tests for employment or other reasons can be a concern.
Q: Will Suboxone show up on an opioid drug test?
A: No, the opioid ingredient in Suboxone, buprenorphine, will not show up in a opioid drug test unless you are taking a multi-panel test which specifically tests for buprenorphine. Even then, if you are being prescribed Suboxone, you shouldn’t have to worry about a positive test buprenorphine test.
Q: What drugs are tested for in a drug test given by employers?
A: Employers can order different drug tests but they commonly test for the following substances: tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine, amphetamines (e.g. speed, Adderall and Ritalin), barbiturates (e.g. phenobarbital) and benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax, Valium, Ativan). They also may test for other drugs such as alcohol, quaalude, PCP and MDMA.
Q: Why do I have to drug test during Suboxone treatment?
A: The reason we drug test as part of your Suboxone treatment is for your benefit. We want to make sure that you are using your medication and not diverting it to other people (which is illegal). We also occasionally test for other illicit drugs, such as cocaine, that may interfere with your treatment. At Workit Health, our program is harm reduction based and you won’t be kicked out of our program based on a positive drug test for other substances.
Q: How is fraudulent drug testing prevented?
A: Attempting to trick a drug test benefits no one. Health professionals who conduct drug tests are trained to look for evidence of tampering of urine samples such as unusual colors, smells, cloudiness or a soapy appearance. They may also use heat sensitive strips (urine should be 90-100 degrees Fahrenheit within 4 minutes of production) to detect whether or not a sample is fresh.
Drug tests may also test for drug metabolites which can only be produced by taking the medication and letting the body process it. For instance, some buprenorphine tests also test for the metabolite norbuprenorphine. This means that dissolving a Suboxone film in a urine sample won’t fool the test. Finally, blood, sweat and hair can also be used to test for drugs and are much harder to tamper with.
Q: What foods/drugs may interfere with my drug tests?
A: Although false positives are rare, many medications and certain foods can cause them. Here is a good list. While you should probably avoid that breakfast of hemp milk and poppy seed bagel before a drug test, you should not stop medication.
Be aware of how your medication may interfere with your drug test and be prepared to explain.
Q: If I do test positive for Suboxone or another substance on a drug test, what can I do?
Whether you’re getting drug tested for employment or for a drug treatment program, be honest about your use when confronted with a result. If you are prescribed a medication, offer to bring in a doctor’s note explaining your treatment.
If you aren’t using as medication that is prescribed to you, explain your use and be ready to get help. A positive drug test can be an opportunity for change.
Workit Health helps you meet your recovery goals.
Ali Safawi is a humble intern with big dreams of connecting communities and institutions to tackle addiction.