How Long Does Loperamide Stay in Your System?
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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.
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.
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