How Long Does Loperamide Stay in Your System?

Loperamide is a generic drug that is also sold under brand-name drug Imodium, a commonly used over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication. There are also some prescription versions of loperamide as well. The primary objective of loperamide is to help people experience fewer bowel movements when they have acute diarrhea. It can also make stools more solid. When loperamide is used as instructed and for a short period, the drug is considered to be a safe and effective medicine. There are relatively few side effects when loperamide is used as instructed; however, some people have experienced drowsiness and dry mouth.

Despite the fact that the drug is safe when used as intended, there is a potential for loperamide abuse to occur. Loperamide is technically classified as an opioid drug. When it’s taken at a normal, therapeutic dose, it interacts with opioid receptors in the GI tract and cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. This prevents the medication from having effects of other opioids, such as euphoria and respiratory depression. People have discovered that when the drug is taken in extremely high doses, loperamide can cross the blood-brain barrier and provide similar effects of other powerful opioid drugs. People are increasingly using loperamide as a way to prevent opioid withdrawal as well.

Loperamide How Long Does It Stay In Your System?

Certain prescription medications contain loperamide but, for the most part, this drug is purchased over the counter and without a prescription. Loperamide products like Imodium and Imodium A-D are not classified as controlled substances in the U.S.; however, the FDA has begun to warn the public and medical professionals about the risks associated with loperamide abuse. The FDA has been pushing for changes in how loperamide-based drugs are labeled. They are also working with retailers, particularly online retailers, to limit quantities of the drug that can be purchased. The FDA cites many adverse side effects and other harm to the body, such as heart problems, that can be fatal when people abuse loperamide.

When taken in a normal dose, loperamide has very few effects on the body other than slowing the movement of the GI tract and reducing diarrhea. There are no effects on the brain and side effects for most people are minimal -if they occur at all. This isn’t the case when people use loperamide in very high doses as the drug can, at this point, activate opioid receptors in the central nervous system. This can lead to feelings of euphoria that are similar to those produced by opioids. Other effects that result from high doses of loperamide can include respiratory depression and changes in heart rhythm. People who abuse loperamide often report taking up to 200 mg in a day -a massive dose compared to the maximum recommended dose of 16 mg in a 24-hour period.

The half-life of any drug is the amount of time it takes half of the concentration taken to be eliminated from the body. The half-life of loperamide is anywhere from 9-14 hours, on average. If someone were to take the maximum recommended dose of loperamide (16 mg) at a half-life of 9 hours, it would take around 63 hours for the drug to be fully eliminated from their system. If the half-life was on the higher end of 16 hours, it could take more than 110 hours for the drug to be fully eliminated from the system.
As is the case with any drug, there are specific factors that play a role in how long loperamide stays in the body. For example, if you have a fast metabolism, loperamide will leave your system more quickly. People who are older or who have impaired hepatic function tend to eliminate drugs more slowly than younger, healthier individuals. Whether or not someone has been using a drug for a long period of time is also relevant. If someone is chronically abusing loperamide, it can accumulate in their system and take even longer to be fully eliminated.
People often wonder about loperamide and drug tests. One concern people have is whether or not using loperamide, even as instructed, could show a positive result for opioids on a drug screen. The answer is: no. Drug tests don’t show loperamide as an opioid. In order for medical professionals to determine if someone is using loperamide, they have to request a specific screening that tests for the drug. If loperamide is being specifically screened for in a drug test, it can show up for quite a while after someone last uses it, particularly when an individual is using it in large amounts.

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.