Levetiracetam (Keppra) is known as an anticonvulsant because it can decrease brain activity that causes epilepsy in some adults and children. It is often used along with other medication as a strategy to treat and prevent seizures.
Some people may be concerned about how Keppra could show up on drug tests that may be required so they can get a job, join an organization, or fulfill other requirements, such as passing tests for probation or governmental obligations.
Is Keppra A Narcotic?
Keppra is an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug. It comes in both an extended-release and immediate-release form. The drug is primarily used to treat seizures in adults and children with various types of epilepsy. Although benzodiazepines are typically used to treat overactive nervous system conditions, drugs like Keppra might be preferred by doctors because there is less potential for abuse. Keppra is not associated with the psychoactive effects that drug users seek out, but will Keppra test positive for benzodiazepines on a drug test? Fortunately, Keppra won’t make you fail a drug test because it belongs to an entirely other class of drugs.
How Long Does It Take for Keppra to Reach Therapeutic Levels?
There are varying doses of the medication used to treat epilepsy, which is solely dependent on the severity of your condition. The understanding of how the drug works aren’t well described. Keppra is believed to inhibit calcium release in the neurons in our brain. The action results in modulating the firing of neurons in the central nervous system (CNS). Since epilepsy is a disease where neurons fire uncontrollably, Keppra slows down this uncontrollable firing and impedes seizures. To reach therapeutic levels, it takes about an hour for the body to absorb the drug. The highest blood levels are reached around two hours after you take the medication.
What Are the Side Effects of Keppra?
No matter which medication you take, whether it’s for pain relief, anxiety, or seizures, it’s going to have side effects. Unfortunately, Keppra is no different. The Keppra half-life is short and is about six to eight hours, meaning it will be removed from your system shortly. However, while the medication is in your system, you could experience the following side effects:
- Mood swings
- Headaches, dizziness, or problems with your motor coordination
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased energy
- Increased sleepiness
- Hostility, agitation, and aggressiveness
- Delusions and hallucinations
- Depression, apathy, and extreme emotional changes
- Suicidal ideation and thoughts
You might wonder how long does Keppra take to work, which is around one to two hours. Although For some, the use of the medication can cause them to feel spaced out immediately. The feelings of dizziness, lightheadedness and decreased concentration are similar to when someone is intoxicated on benzodiazepines or alcohol. Despite how well the drug may work for some, it’s not a pleasant feeling. It might cause a person to stop using the medicine, meaning these adverse side effects will resolve, leaving them vulnerable to enduring seizures.
In some rare cases, severe skin disorders like Stevens-Johnsons syndrome or epidermal necrolysis can occur. If this happens, your doctor will discontinue the drug immediately. The side effects that occur with anticonvulsant medications like Keppra result in discontinuation and may cause a person to use other drugs like benzodiazepines. Those who use Keppra report feeling like they’re high or drunk, but it’s not anything someone would seek out to abuse. However, people may misuse Keppra in conjunction with drugs like alcohol.
Anticonvulsants are not typically drugs of abuse. However, some who use the medication for personal purposes like seizure control will develop substance use disorders (SUDs) for other reasons. There are some anecdotal reports scattered around the web of individuals abusing anticonvulsants along with other drugs of abuse. The side effects of these anticonvulsants like dizziness and sedation are enhanced when combined with alcohol. However, using Keppra in large amounts is not common, even among the most hardcore drug abusers. For those who do develop a dependence on the drug, it’s important to learn more about how long it takes to detox from the drug and how long it’s detectable in drug tests.
A 2017 case study published in Therapeutic Drug Monitoring states that physicians are still working on the best ways to monitor the use of Keppra for their patients. If you take Keppra for epilepsy, you will be subjected to occasional laboratory tests so doctors can gauge how you’re doing.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mentions that Keppra has a half-life of six to eight hours in a person with normal metabolism and kidney function. A person can also expect to have peak levels of Keppra present within about an hour of taking the medication.
The FDA also says that the body excretes the drug normally except in patients who have renal issues.
How Long it Takes to Detox from Keppra
Patients who want to stop taking Keppra generally need to meet the following requirements, as mentioned by this 2010 paper published in Current Treatment Options in Neurology:
- In adults: seizures that have been under control or nonexistent between the last two to five years
- In children: lack of seizures for one to two years
Keppra also has the potential for abuse, and some patients might want to stop taking it because of how it makes them feel. Others might want to stop using Keppra because use correlates with an increase in suicidal ideation and thoughts of self-harm, according to its profile on MedlinePlus.
Patients cannot just stop taking Keppra at will. Suddenly stopping your use of Keppra could cause seizures to return.
Why Do I Need to Know How Long it Stays in My Body?
Even if you do not have to take a drug test for employment or other third-party purposes, doctors use blood, saliva, and even hair tests to check your levels of Keppra. Monitoring your bodily fluids in this way allows doctors to get a better idea of how much Keppra you need.
If you take too much of the medication, you could suffer toxicity or even overdose. If your levels are too low, your dose may not prevent seizures as necessary.
Medicines for Children explains that doctors often start patients at a low dose and gradually increase their prescription over time.
How Long Keppra is Detectable on Drug Tests
Common tests for Keppra in patient monitoring are similar to the types of tests you may have to get for work reasons.
- Blood: DoveMed sells a test that is frequently used to test for levetiracetam and prevent patients from taking levels that are too high.
A 2016 case study from the Journal of Neurosciences in Rural Practice explains that a person’s gender, weight, and use of additional medications can change how Keppra is detected in their blood. So far, tests only explain that blood can accurately detect high levels of Keppra between 0.5 to 14 hours after a patient’s last dose.
- Saliva: A saliva test may also be used to test a patient’s complicity with their dose schedule —to make sure they are not taking too much or too little of the medication. For Keppra, saliva tests were found to detect dose levels almost as well as blood tests.
- Urine: The use of urine tests that specifically search for Keppra is not well documented. False positives in urine drug test sampling are also not well documented with Keppra.
- Hair: A hair follicle test can detect Keppra exposure over a long time.
Most employers test only for common substances of misuse, such as alcohol, marijuana, or illicit drugs; however, if you are still worried about how Keppra may influence your drug test results, you can talk to your doctor about cessation.
How to Detox From Keppra
Current Treatment Options in Neurology explains that tapering off Keppra still requires additional research. In children, studies show that tapering quickly (in six weeks) is just as effective as tapering slowly (within nine months).
Though there are many blogs that discuss how to pass a drug test if you take alcohol, marijuana, prescription opioid, and other common drugs, all these methods are dubious at best. There seems to be no quick way to rid the body of Keppra.
Some common methods may reduce your overall levels of the medication, but they provide no guarantees.
- Drug detoxifiers: People who smoke marijuana have reported being able to buy these at legal dispensaries, and they claim to help the body process drugs more efficiently.
- Hydration: Drinking enough water may dilute drug levels in your body. Diluted urine may be a reason for a retest, however.
- Exercise: This may help you pass a test by causing your body to sweat out toxins and metabolites.
None of these methods is a surefire way to pass a drug test. The only way to pass is to stop use and let time go by. Medical assistance is required for this.