Have you heard about addicts turning to anti-diarrhea drugs if they can’t get their hands on painkillers? If so, you may also have heard of loperamide. Some people refer to this medication as a poor man’s methadone due to its low cost and easy availability.
Methadone has a proven place in opioid addiction treatment programs. However, loperamide does not. Some people who can’t get methadone for addiction treatment turn to this medication instead. Loperamide is also used recreationally to get high. If you or a loved one are struggling with loperamide addiction, a professional opioid addiction treatment program is the best chance to break the cycle of addiction. Call 833.754.0554 for more information.
What Is Loperamide?
Loperamide hydrochloride, or Imodium A-D, is an over-the-counter medication. Its FDA-approved use is to prevent diarrhea, as it slows down intestinal movement and general digestion. Loperamide is an opioid receptor agonist. It will bind to the opioid receptors in your system. However, when taken at normal doses, the medication doesn’t go from your bloodstream to your brain, so there is no euphoric effect or ‘high.’
Loperamide Addiction Is a Real Risk
You might not think there is a real risk of addiction to over-the-counter anti-diarrheal medication. However, a few factors explain why those caught in the cycle of addiction find it so tempting:
- Ready availability: In addition to the name brand of Imodium, almost every major pharmacy chain has its own store-brand version. Since pharmacy chains compete, there are multiple points of sale within a localized area.
- Low cost: The pharmacy brand is usually about half the cost of the Imodium brand name—about $6.50 for 24 2mg caplets.
The maximum over-the-counter dosage for loperamide per day is 8 milligrams as an anti-diarrheal. With a prescription, you can take 16 milligrams per day. There are no abuse risks when using the recommended dose. However, some people addicted to opioids take much more to manage withdrawal symptoms or gain the high they’re missing.
A loperamide high occurs when the user takes enough to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. When this is accomplished, the medication can act on the central nervous system, and users will get the high they crave. This occurs once 60 milligrams or more are taken at a time. People who abuse the drug will take up to 100 2mg tablets every day for two weeks. This level of use can trigger serious loperamide side effects.
Loperamide Side Effects
Loperamide side effects can occur even when you take the medication as intended. Common examples of these effects include:
- Stomach cramps
The long-term side effects of loperamide abuse typically include problems with the heart. For example, a 28-year-old woman took 400-600 milligrams of the drug daily for a few months. When doctors conducted an electrocardiogram on her, it revealed a dangerous irregular heartbeat. She also had abnormal electrical conduction through her heart.
Users constantly abusing loperamide are at risk for health problems and even death. Overdosing on the medication can cause the following side effects:
- Urinary retention
- Dysfunction of the liver
- Intestines not functioning
- Depressed heart rate and breathing
- Abnormal heart rate
- Depressed central nervous system
- The user may end up in a stupor
- Poor coordination
It is hard to say how many people have died from abusing loperamide. Statistics for overdose, health problems, and death when abusing loperamide are not appropriately captured because drug screens in the emergency room do not detect it.
Women’s Drug Rehab at Women’s Recovery Can Help with Loperamide Addiction
Access to proper treatment will help you avoid any problems with loperamide. For women, a dedicated women’s drug rehab may be especially helpful for effective recovery. A program of this type not only provides the proven treatment. It also includes options that fit the unique needs of women with substance problems.
At Women’s Recovery, we specialize in quality care for women addicted to opioids or other substances. With our help, you can avoid withdrawal symptoms and other loperamide side effects. You will also receive customized treatment that meets the specific requirements of your recovery. For more information on our available services, call us today at 833.754.0554 or contact us online.