How Long Does Imodium Stay In Your System?
Imodium is a commonly used, over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication that’s found its way into the center of the opioid crisis in the U.S. The generic name of Imodium is loperamide, and used at normal doses, this is considered a safe and generally well-tolerated medication. Imodium can help with short-term, acute cases of diarrhea. It’s an inexpensive and very accessible medication, but the FDA has been pushing for tighter regulations regarding the sale of Imodium. At normal does, Imodium doesn’t cross the blood-brain barrier. At very high doses, Imodium can cross that barrier, and it acts similarly to opioids. Regular takers of opioid have started using Imodium as a way to feel high or to ward off withdrawal symptoms.
For many years, Imodium has been easily available as an over-the-counter medication. There are prescription versions of loperamide as well. Buying Imodium is easy in stores, and large quantities can be purchased online. However, the FDA is pushing for tighter regulations because of increased reports of misuse and overdoses related to Imodium. In 2016 the FDA issued a warning statement about high doses of Imodium. The FDA highlighted the risks associated with misusing large amounts of Imodium, including sudden cardiac events. Regulatory agencies have also been working to educate medical professionals and healthcare providers about the risks of Imodium and the potential for misuse.
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Currently, the recommended dosage for adults is taking two caplets or softgels after experiencing the first event of loose stools. This is equal to 30 mL of the liquid Imodium. Following the initial dose, instructions indicate people should take one caplet or softgel after each continuing loose stool or 15 mL of liquid. The instructions indicate people shouldn’t take more than four caplets or softgels or 60 mL of liquid Imodium in a 24-hour period. A doctor’s instructions might deviate from these guidelines a bit, but this gives a general overview of what’s considered a safe amount to take.
Loperamide, the active ingredient in Imodium, is classified as an opiate receptor agonist. When someone uses Imodium, it impacts opioid receptors in the gastrointestinal tract. That’s how it’s able to slow the activity of the intestines and prevent diarrhea. If someone takes large doses of the drug to cross the blood-brain barrier, side effects can be serious. Side effects of using a high dose of Imodium can include liver damage, urine retention and respiratory depression. Also possible is paralytic ileus, which is a stoppage of the intestine. High doses of Imodium can cause heart arrhythmia, heart attack and sudden heart-related complications, and death.
The half-life of a drug or medication is the time it takes the amount of a drug in someone’s body to be reduced by half. The half-life of loperamide is estimated to have a range of 9.1 to 14.4 hours. The average is around 10.8 hours. Blood concentration levels of loperamide are highest around five hours after someone takes it in capsule form and around 2.5 hours after taking liquid Imodium or generic loperamide. Loperamide is excreted from the system of a person primarily through feces. Based on the average half-life estimate of 10.8 hours, it could take around 54 hours for all of a dose of Imodium to leave the system of the taker.
Different individual factors can play a role in how long a drug like Imodium stays in your system. If someone has impaired hepatic function or a chronic illness, for example, it could take longer for a dose of Imodium to leave their system. Also relevant are age and metabolism. Generally, younger, healthier people are going to remove drugs from their system more quickly than someone who’s older or who has a complicating health condition. With Imodium, even more relevant is the dose someone takes. Since people misuse Imodium by taking extraordinarily high doses, the drug is likely to stay in their system for much longer than it would if they took a therapeutic dose. If someone regularly misuses Imodium, it can also build up in their system.
People often wonder if Imodium will show up on a drug test, whether it’s used therapeutically or misused at high levels. According to the FDA, loperamide use isn’t going to show up on a standard drug screening. If a medical professional or organization wants to test for the presence of Imodium, they will have to use a specific blood test to do so. Certain drug test companies are starting to offer specific testing for loperamide since it’s not detected in a standard screen. A drug test would look for loperamide and the metabolites it leaves behind as the body processes it.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a 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 provider.