Based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of opiates continues to skyrocket. The sale of legal prescription drugs such as hydrocodone increased by 493% from 2010 to 2016.  Part of the reason is the rising number of individuals who have to deal with chronic pain from conditions like fibromyalgia.

Chronic pain cannot be relieved with simple over-the-counter medication. It’s a stronger narcotic that can only be prescribed by a doctor because of its side effects. With fibromyalgia, a combination of opiate drugs may be needed to help manage pain – and even so, flares cannot be prevented which will explain the occasional breakthrough pain.

Based on a 2015 report on the Clinical Journal of Pain, long term pain treatment using opiates does not necessarily improve the fibromyalgia pain episodes because the pain level, according to the experts, are often too high for the opiates to function. On the other hand, there being no other treatment choice at the moment, many doctors continue to prescribe opiates to give some degree of relief to their patients.

Opiate & Half Lives

Sadly opiates, while capable of easing pain and discomfort from a medical condition, is addictive and an opiate’s half life can stay in the system for as short as one hour or as long as 9 hours. This period can extend if you take more than one opiate, the strength of the dose, and the type of opiate you take.  Half life is a medical term that refers to the time it would take for an opiate’s effect (amount of drug) to be reduced by 50%. This half life represents the time it takes for the opiate to be eliminated from the body, destroyed in your blood, or moved to another part of the body fluid area other than the blood like urine.

It’s important to know about half life because it will help you understand how long a certain opiate stays in your system. For example, if you take codeine, the half life is maximum of four hours but if you take morphine, the half life is a maximum of 6.5 hours.

That being said, half life is only half of the story. While opiates generally have brief half-lives, the effects linger.

Kinds of Drug Testing

The type of test used to detect opiate are chosen with care because some  tests cannot detect certain opiates after a day while others can detect even 3 days after. For instance, if you take codeine, it will turn up positive in a urine test if the test is done within 48 hours. However, if you take a blood tests, codeine can only be detected after 12 hours. It’s similar for hydrocodone because a urine test has a window of 3 days while a blood test for the same opiate has a window of 24 hours only.

Other tests like the hair and saliva also have significant parameters. Saliva tests must be taken within 5 minutes minimum up to 36 hours while hair tests can reveal opiate use for up to 90 days.

Factors that Affect Testing

However, drug testing is much more complicated since no one is created alike which means your personal demographics will affect the test results. Here’s how:

Your Age – The older you are, the slower your metabolism is and the chances are higher that your major organs like your kidneys don’t work as well. This means the opiate stays in your system longer

Your Weight and Height – Opiates have a tendency to build up in fatty tissues making it harder for the body to expel it.

Kidney/Liver Function – The health of these organs will help determine the speed that drugs are cleared from your system

Genetics – Some people have fast metabolism because of their genes while others inherit a slow metabolism regardless of age. In addition, genes will also affect reaction to opiates.

Frequency and Dosage – High dosage and frequency will make it harder to expel traces of opiate from the system and accumulation will be the primary cause for a a slow clearance time.

Diet – There are certain foods that can hasten the metabolism and drug clearance like grapefruit juice although most home remedies do not guarantee 100% clearance

Medically speaking, opiate clearance is declared only when 3% of the opiate remains in your system.

Significance of Opiate Clearance

With long term use comes not just the risk of addiction but also side effects such as insomnia, constipation, and tolerance. Withdrawal must be considered if the side effects affecting quality of life and the pain level persists. However, withdrawal must be done gradually because withdrawal itself will bring an onslaught of side effects such as unusual perspiration, vomiting, yawning, abdominal cramps, twitches, distress, tremors, anxiety, and restlessness.



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