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 – a box of twelve, 2mg pills, can cost less than three dollars and is widely available. Methadone has a proven place in opioid addiction treatment. However, loperamide does not. Some people who can’t get methadone for addiction treatment turn to this medication instead. They may also take part in the dangerous act of using loperamide to get high.
Loperamide as a Replacement for Methadone in Addiction Treatment
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, so 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 high to be had.
Methadone is a commonly used drug in opioid treatment. It serves as a temporary substitute for drugs of abuse. Methadone helps by easing the severity of opioid withdrawal. Loperamide is a weak opioid, so addicted users assume it can replace methadone. This diarrhea medication can ease the extreme pain one experiences in the gastrointestinal system when going through opiate withdrawal. However, it is not a substitute for methadone. Why not? It doesn’t activate your opioid receptors in the same way as more powerful opioids, like heroin.
What Is the Loperamide High?
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 you’ve taken 60 milligrams or more at a time. People who abuse the drug are known as lobe abusers. They 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 every day 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 who are constantly overdoing it with 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 Imodium AD. Statistics for overdose, health problems, and death when abusing Loperamide are not captured properly because drug screens in the emergency room do not detect it.
A toxicologist at the University of Texas Health Science Center of Houston says that the urine toxicology doesn’t pick it up, and she believes that cases are being missed. Drug abusers will come to the hospital not breathing or in a lethargic state. It seems as though they’ve overdosed on heroin, but they don’t find a trace of the drug in their system. They may give the person naloxone, which is an anti-opioid drug. It’s also quite expensive to administer. The cause of the problem may be a loperamide overdose, instead.
Women’s Drug Rehab at Women’s Recovery Will Help You Avoid Problems
Access to proper treatment will help you steer clear of 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 will avoid the dangers of using unproven methods to treat your condition. 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. You can also reach us through our online form.