How Long Does Meperidine Stay In Your System?

Meperidine is a prescription pain-relieving drug, most often known as the brand-name Demerol. Meperidine is intended to be prescribed for moderate-to-severe acute pain and used on an as-needed, short-term basis. Meperidine is a synthetic opioid, and it’s similar in its effects to drugs like morphine. Demerol is sometimes used to put people to sleep before a procedure and also to help with labor pain. Meperidine is not intended to be used to treat chronic pain. Doctors should go over a patient’s potential history of substance misuse, personally or in their family, because there is a risk of psychological and physical dependence.

Meperidine is a Schedule II controlled substance in the U.S., as is the case with most other opioid prescription drugs. As a Schedule II drug, meperidine does have approved medical uses but also a high likelihood of severe misuse and dependence. Physicians or pharmacists are warned to be careful when prescribing or dispensing this controlled substance because it is sought by people who have addictions or who want to divert it from medical use. Using meperidine without a prescription or outside of how it’s prescribed is illegal since it’s a controlled substance.

The use of opioids in the U.S. has become so widespread and damaging that it’s referred to as the opioid epidemic or the opioid overdose crisis. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, on average 115 people die in the U.S. every day because of opioid overdoses. Opioids are drugs that affect the brain and body in certain ways, and they are all central nervous system depressants. Opioids include prescription pain medicines, synthetic drugs like fentanyl and heroin. Along with meperidine, other opioids frequently misused include hydrocodone and oxycodone. Commonly misused brand-name opioids include Vicodin, Norco, Dilaudid, Percocet and OxyContin.

When someone takes meperidine, it binds to opioid receptor sites. These receptors are located throughout the brain, body and central nervous system. When a drug like meperidine binds to opioid receptors, it changes how pain signals are sent to the brain, which is why opioids are so good as pain relievers. Other things aside from pain relief can occur as well. Some people may experience a euphoric feeling because opioids can trigger a release of dopamine into the brain and body. When that happens, a reward and reinforcement response can begin, which can lead to the development of an addiction. Meperidine and other opioids also slow the central nervous system. This can cause people to feel drowsy, relaxed or even sedated. It can also cause a slowdown in essential functions including heart rate and breathing.

The half-life of meperidine is a measure of how long it would take half a dose of the drug to leave the system of a patient. The half-life on average for meperidine is short and ranges from two to five hours for the parent drug. However, meperidine can leave behind a metabolite that lingers in the system of a patient for longer and has a half-life of up to 15 to 30 hours on average. In patients with renal impairment, the half-life can be anywhere from 35 to 40 hours. It usually takes around five half-lives for a drug to be fully eliminated from the patient’s system.

While there are estimates and averages that can be given for how long meperidine stays in your system, a lot of it is based on the individual. Some of the factors that influence how long meperidine stays in your system can include:

  • Age: If all other factors are relatively similar, an older person is likely to excrete a drug from their system more slowly than a younger person.
  • Health: Health problems can make it harder for the body to metabolize and eliminate a drug like meperidine.
  • How often someone uses meperidine: Meperidine can accumulate in the system of a patient, so if someone is using it often, it may take longer for the drug to leave their system.
  • Other substances: Other substances including alcohol, prescription or illicit drugs, and even certain foods and drink can make it take longer for meperidine to leave the system.
  • Hydration: If someone is well-hydrated, they’re likely going to excrete a drug like meperidine more quickly than someone who isn’t.
  • Metabolism: If someone has a fast metabolism, drugs usually leave the system faster than in someone with a slower metabolism.

People may wonder how long meperidine would stay in their system if they have an upcoming drug test. Meperidine isn’t likely to show up in a standard drug screening because it’s synthetic and doesn’t metabolize drugs like codeine or morphine in the system. However, it could show up if it was specifically tested for. Meperidine might show up for up for several days after someone used it in a urine test. It would probably show up for around 24 hours after use in a blood test, and in a hair test, the use of meperidine might be detectable for up to 90 days. These numbers are highly variable based on factors like the ones named above.

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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.

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