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Anti-Diarrhea Drug Abuse on the Rise in the United States

by Reshma Anand on May 5, 2016 at 4:45 PM
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Anti-Diarrhea Drug Abuse on the Rise in the United States

There has been a growing trend in the number of people taking higher doses of a common anti-diarrhea drug to get high or treat themselves against drug addiction in the United States.

Imodium is an over-the-counter drug that helps in treating diarrhea. Over-the-counter medications can be bought from a local pharmacy without a doctor prescription.


Loperamide drug (Imodium) belongs to the class of opioid painkillers which can cause a high when taken in larger amounts. Its adverse effects include a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure and life threatening heart arrhythmia. The daily recommended dosage of loperamide is only 16 mg, but the study found that many people take up to 200 mg per day.

A study on the loperamide drug was published in the journal The Annals of Emergency Medicine. The study reported an increase in the use of the drug among teens in the recent years. Data from the Upstate New York Poison Center showed that there was an increase in the number of calls related to Imodium abuse between 2011 and 2015.

The study highlighted that about 70% of teenagers used the drug to manage withdrawal symptoms while 25% of them used it for the euphoric effects. It also described two cases of death related to loperamide addiction. A 24-year-old man and another 39-year-old has reportedly taken large doses of the Imodium drug to treat their drug addiction, but it imposed severe heart complications, leading to death.

Study co-author William Eggleston, a clinical toxicologist at the Upstate New York Poison Center said, "Our nation's growing population of opioid-addicted patients is seeking alternative drug sources, with prescription opioid medication abuse being limited by new legislation and regulations. Health care providers must be aware of increasing loperamide abuse and its under-recognized cardiac toxicity."

Source: Medindia


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