Opioid addicts using over-the-counter, anti-diarrhea medication to get high

Posted at 12:28 AM, May 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-07 00:51:24-04

NEW YORK -- Opioid addicts are turning to a cheaper alternative to get high, using an over-the-counter drug.

Popular anti-diarrhea drugs like Imodium A-D is the latest trend by opioid addicts, CBS New York reports.

According to a report published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the anti-diarrhea medication is attractive to drug users because of its availability and cheap price.

The main ingredient in Imodium A-D, loperamide, causes an intestinal slow-down, which helps stop diarrhea, but it is an opioid.

Over the counter drug

Physicians said when taken in very high doses, it gives users the same high as heroin, morphine and oxycodone.

Addicts are found to be popping anywhere from 50 to 300 pills per day. Big box stores sell 400 tablets for less than $10.

“Folks that are desperately addicted, folks that are looking to stave off withdrawal symptoms will do whatever it takes sometimes, really extreme things,” Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, of the Family and Children’s Association, said. “So in the scheme of things, taking 300 pills is not unheard of.”

Excessive doses of the over-the-counter drug can lead to heart problems, kidney and liver failure, and even death.

Researchers said National Poison Center data recorded a 71 percent increase in calls related to loperamide usage from 2011 to 2014.

There were more drug overdose fatalities in 2015 then there were traffic fatalities in the state of Virginia, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.