Opioid addicts seek refuge in anti-diarrhea drug to get high: Study

Opioid addicts seek refuge in anti-diarrhea drug to get high: Study

Looking at the problem of opioid abuse and misuse, America has been forming new legislations and regulations to check people’s access to prescription drugs. But opioid addicts are constantly finding new means to satisfy their drug cravings. A large number of addicts are now abusing anti-diarrhea drug loperamide, commonly known as Imodium, in a bid to self-treat their opioid addiction, revealed a study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine in May 2016.

Regulating sales of loperamide-containing products can reduce addiction

Imodium, a popular anti-diarrhea drug available over-the-counter (OTC), is more popular due to its tendency to give a high. Many opioid addicts have found a new solution to the restrictions imposed by stringent laws on access to prescription drugs. Imodium has become an indispensable drug of abuse among young addicts due to its wide availability and cost-effectiveness. However, the drug does not produce the desired effects if consumed in small quantities. So, an addict needs to take large doses of the drug, which can cause life-threatening problems.

Lead author of the study William Eggleston, a clinical toxicologist at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, gives an account of two overdose deaths in New York caused by loperamide abuse. Other life-threatening cases have also been reported from other American states. When taken in higher doses, Imodium affects the brain just like an opioid. Some of the related symptoms include low heart rate, low blood pressure and life-threatening irregular heartbeat.

The intensity of the abuse is so high that the Carolina Poison Center got more calls related to imodium abuse in 2016 than ever before. The Upstate New York Poison Center also witnessed a seven-fold rise in calls related to loperamide abuse over the last few years. “Action should be taken to regulate the sale of loperamide-containing products in a manner similar to pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, and other restricted over-the-counter medications,” said the researchers. They also suggested that steps should be taken to strengthen public awareness of the effects of loperamide abuse.

Loperamide helps control drug withdrawal symptoms

A large proportion of the American population depends on prescription opiate drugs to relieve pain stemming from withdrawal. Withdrawal is the biggest challenge for anyone trying to break free of addiction. Opiate withdrawal is all the more unpleasant with symptoms like diarrhea, muscle aches, chills, sweating, and nausea, among others. To help ease the symptoms, some people go for OTC drugs, such as Imodium, which causes more harm than good.

It is safe to use Imodium for withdrawal-induced diarrhea only in the right quantity. Despite helping in easing certain withdrawal symptoms, it is not endorsed for long-term use. The use of Imodium as an opioid substitute has been doing the rounds on web for almost a decade now.

Road to recovery

It is imperative for caregivers to educate their patients about the possible dangers of prescription abuse as non-medical opioid use can increase the risk of addiction. A habitual opioid use can cause not only obvious changes in behavior and personality, but also irritability, restlessness and anxiety.

If you or your loved one is addicted to any prescription drug and is looking for treatment, you may contact the California Prescription Abuse Helpline for information about various prescription drug rehabs in California. You may also call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-738-2770 or chat online for further expert advice.