Elavil has a half-life of approximately 20 hours. Meaning a person who takes a 20-mg dose of the medication would only have 10 mg in their system after 20 hours have elapsed.
Amitriptyline is a tricyclic antidepressant that affects the chemicals in your brain that can result in depression. The medication is non-habit forming, works well and is often effective at controlling depression, but the medication has some significant side effects that other antidepressants do not.
Some people find that amitriptyline is particularly effective while other people find that the medication results in serious side effects. As a result, some people decide to discontinue use of the medication. Withdrawal from amitriptyline, however, is often a process that results in complications. This process leaves some people curious about how long the medication will remain in their system. The answer is that the medication often leaves a person’s system a few weeks after use of amitriptyline is discontinued.
There are some important steps that a person can take during withdrawal from amitriptyline to make sure that the procedure continues as smoothly as possible, which include the following:
- Avoid rushing the process, which can take several weeks.
- Reduce dosage gradually rather than stopping suddenly or “cold turkey.”
- Select a time to stop the medication that is not too stressful.
Some of the safety precautions that a person should remember about using Elavil (amitriptyline) include the following:
- Avoid drinking alcohol while on Elavil because this can result in dangerous side effects or even death.
- The medication should not be used if a person has used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days.
- Some people experience suicidal thoughts when they first start taking an antidepressant, especially individuals who are younger than 24 years old.
- Make sure to report any new or worsening symptoms to your physician while on the medication including anxiety, sleep difficulties and increased depression.
- Never take a double dose if you miss taking the medication because this can result in serious side effects.
Amitriptyline is not mentioned on the FDA’s list of controlled substances. This means that there are few laws in the country that directly apply to possession or regulation of amitriptyline. As a result, many people argue that there has been increased misuse of the medication.
Amitriptyline is most commonly sold under the brand name of Elavil. Some of the other common brand names under which amitriptyline is marketed include Endep, Lentizol, Saroten, Tryptanol and Tryptizol.
As a tricyclic antidepressant, medical professionals do not yet understand exactly how Elavil works. Tricyclic antidepressants increase levels of norepinephrine and serotonin, which are two neurotransmitters in the human body. They also prohibit the action of acetylcholine, which is another type of neurotransmitter. By leveling the balance between these neurotransmitters, tricyclic antidepressants are believed by many researchers to increase the control of mood disorders.
Amitriptyline contains a half-life of approximately 20 hours. This means that a person who takes a 20-mg dose of the medication would only have 10 mg in their system after 20 hours have elapsed. After another 20 hours have elapsed, a person would have 5 mg of the drug in their system. This division continues until there is an untraceable amount of the drug in a person’s system.
Many people are surprised to learn that there are a variety of factors that change between people and influence how quickly the withdrawal process works. Some of these factors include the following:
- The amount of amitriptyline a person takes. Individuals who take a larger dose of the medication frequently take a long time to withdraw from the medication.
- Genetics. Some people are simply able to proceed through the withdrawal process easier and faster than others due to genetics.
- The physical structure of the person involved. People with larger body frames, including people who weigh more and people who are taller, are likely to proceed through withdrawal quicker and easier than people with smaller bodies.
- Whether the person is taking any other drugs. Any other drugs in a person’s system can influence the rate and severity of withdrawal from amitriptyline.
People who take drug tests are often concerned about how long Elavil will remain in their blood or urine, which could create a potential false positive for one of several types of illegal drugs. The answer is that the exact length of time changes between people. However, one can expect that Elavil will become unnoticeable in a person’s system within a few weeks after discontinuing the medication.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.