Loperamide also referred to by it’s over the counter brand drug name Imodium A-D is being abused by opiate addicts to counter physical withdrawal symptoms from opiate addiction. Imodium A-D is an OTC medication that helps relieve diarrhea and other abnormal gastrointestinal symptoms.
Opiate addicts are taking loperamide to lessen opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms. Although loperamide is not an opioid drug, when used in very high doses it acts on mu-opioid receptors, which are the same receptors that initiate addiction to opiates, like heroin, morphine, and fentanyl.
Loperamide has become known as the poor man’s methadone. Loperamide is taken by opiate addicts when they cannot get heroin or other opioid drugs the same way an alcoholic may drink mouthwash when they don’t have access to alcohol.
The amount of loperamide that is needed to help relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms is extremely dangerous. A normal dose of Imodium is 2 milligrams to be taken up to four times a day. A person who is attempting to take Imodium to get high is taking up to 500 milligrams a day.
What are the Effects of Imodium in High Doses?
The euphoric effects that high doses of loperamide have for an opiate addict is at best minimal. Opiate addicts have reported that taking Imodium at large doses does decrease the withdrawal symptoms but does not get them high.
At dangerous doses, loperamide crosses the blood-brain barrier, which will allow the opioid receptors to produce endorphins and other neurotransmitter reactions that cause a person to feel better. The effects of loperamide only minimize withdrawal symptoms; it does not compare to the euphoria that heroin, Fentanyl, or other opiate drugs cause.
When a person increases the dose past, what is recommended for any type of OTC drug or prescription drug, they risk enduring serious medical problems and death. The history of persons taking Imodium to get high began as early as the 1990s. The Federal Drug Administration did not class Imodium as an over the counter drug until 1988.
Before that, it was in fact, classed as a controlled substance, not unlike cocaine or and other illegal drugs. Now that there is a greater awareness of people abusing Imodium the FDA drug safety communications announced to the public this September 2019, that they will require limits on the amounts that can be sold in the packaging of loperamide.
To help address loperamide abuse and misuse, FDA approved changes to the packaging for tablet and capsule forms of the brand-name over the counter (OTC) anti-diarrheal medicines Imodium A-D, Imodium Multi-Symptom Relief, and Be Health Loperamide HCl Capsules. These changes limit each carton to no more than 48 mg of loperamide and require the tablets and capsules to be packaged in individual doses. Some individuals are taking high doses of loperamide to treat symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Loperamide acts on opioid receptors in the gut to slow the movement in the intestines and decrease the number of bowel movements. It is safe at approved doses, but when much higher than recommended doses are taken, it can lead to serious problems, including severe heart rhythm problems and death. (FDA)
What are the Imodium Abuse Side Effects?
There have been numerous reports and documentation about people damaging their hearts and bodies as a result of taking loperamide in very high doses. Numerous deaths have been documented from all over the United States from emergency rooms to poison control centers. Heart problems arise quickly for people who are taking loperamide in large doses as Loperamide affects the amount of calcium that is delivered to the heart, which regulates the functions of the heart muscle.
The greatest scare of people turning to an anti-diarrhea drug to prevent experiencing opiate addiction withdrawal symptoms is that it can kill them. They may temporarily relieve some withdrawal symptoms but will pay for it with their lives. Another tragedy of this growing trend is the misinformation about Imodium available on the internet. Websites dedicated to drug-seeking cultures are promoting Imodium, as a quick fix, but not providing all the facts that it can kill them.
Most importantly, is that addiction is a deadly disease that causes addicts to do and take anything to get high.
The safest way to help someone with their addiction to opiates like heroin, prescription pain killers, fentanyl, and others is to have them admitted into a medically supervised detox followed by opiate addiction treatment. The programs that we offer provide very effective medications that will eliminate withdrawal symptoms and help opiate addicts recover from their addictions.