There has been an ever-growing epidemic sweeping the US involving the abuse of the over-the-counter medication “Imodium”. Imodium, when taken in large quantities, can provide the abuser with a euphoric effect similar to that of the effect(s) received from taking pain medication or heroin.
Manufactured and produced as an anti-diarrhea treatment; Imodium has quickly grown in popularity among opioid addicts as a high-alternative since if enough Imodium is taken, the active ingredient “loperamide” will initiate the “high feeling” that individuals suffering from addiction are searching for.
Abuse of Imodium has matured in to such a pressing issue that it has caught the attention of the United Stated Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and they’re beginning to take immediate action to help reduce the chance of Imodium abuse among individuals who are dependent upon opioids.
Epidemics involving opioid and heroin abuse have been a concern among medical professionals for decades.
What now has the FDA even more concerned than usual is that with a non-prescribed, easy-to-obtain medication available on the market (Imodium) that provides opioid-like effects; individuals with past or present addiction battles may turn to Imodium as a means to obtain the high that they’d receive from getting their hands on their drug of preference (opioids, heroin).
What’s sparking such a sudden concern is that the abusers of Imodium, in some cases, are consuming up to 400 Imodium pills within a 24-hour span which obviously is an immense health concern.
The United States Food and Drug Administration is taking the first step to stop the problem by approaching multiple manufacturers of anti-diarrhea medications and requesting modifications to be made to the packaging/labeling in an effort to prevent abuse from those suffering from addiction related issues.
What the FDA is suggesting to the manufacturers of Imodium A-D (and manufacturers of other similar medications) is to restructure the packaging, labeling, and dosage amount. Ideally, from the FDA’s viewpoint, manufacturers of anti-diarrhea medications will begin to package their medications in “blister packs” or single-dose packs which they believe will reduce the number of individuals abusing the product.
Because of this increasing, ever-growing concern, Scott Gottlieb, the FDA Commissioner, publicly addressed the issue this past Tuesday (2/6/2018) issuing the following statement:
“The FDA is requesting that sponsors of OTC loperamide – an FDA-approved product to help control short-term symptoms of diarrhea, including Travelers’ Diarrhea – change the way they label and package these drugs to stem abuse and misuse that leaves us deeply concerned”
Primarily concerning the FDA and experts among the medical community is the active ingredient put in to anti-diarrhea medications from manufacturers: Loperamide. While this chemical may not sound too familiar, it’s one that is well-known among users battling opioid addiction and has been medically dubbed as the “Poor Man’s Methadone”.
It was provided this name when it became known that the ingestion of large amounts of loperamide provides what many report as a “cheap high” that aids addiction-inflicted individuals with symptom and withdrawal relief from narcotics (including but not limited to hydrocodone, heroin, and morphine).
Opioid dependency has been plaguing the US for a very long time and it’s a crisis that needs to be dealt with before it matures in to an uncontrollable level (although it seems as such we’re already at that point).
When Imodium is used by those who are longing for withdrawal/symptom relief (or for the “high”), users willingly partake in this dangerous and possibly deadly trend of ingesting very high-dosage amounts of the medication.
While the FDA took the first initiative to reduce off-the-shelf medication abuse back in April of 2017 by requiring manufacturers to add a warning label to product packaging – they believe that more can be done (and should be done) to help bring down the number of abuse cases.
With new guidelines now it place, official statements from the FDA to multiple anti-diarrhea manufacturers have already been issued and short-term compliance is expected to be met.
Aside from the FDA requiring adjustments to the medication packaging and labeling, what will have the biggest effect on bringing down Imodium abuse is their mandate that manufacturers reduce the dosage amount of loperamide in the medicine.
Since anti-diarrhea packages are commonly labeled to provide short-term diarrhea relief, the FDA is requesting for compliance in their request for the amount of loperamide in each dosage to be reduced (since it’s for short-term treatment).
What may come to you as a surprise about Imodium is that its active ingredient loperamide is actually, on its own, a close relative to opioids and as such makes it an easy go-to alternative for addicts since they’ll be able to obtain a high (to some degree).
If an opioid dependent individual is enduring symptoms, withdrawals, or pain derived from the absence of hydrocodone or oxycontin in their system it’s too tempting to “not” fulfill their physical addiction needs when Imodium is sold at every local drug store. What’s worrying is that loperamide is in fact an opioid by itself but in order for it to be absorbed in to the user’s blood stream insanely high amounts of the medication must be ingested.
So you can understand the magnitude of this epidemic, a doctor publicly stated that one of their patients admitted to consuming 400 Imodium pills in a single day. This is absolutely unbelievable, sad, dangerous, and concerning.
Because the feeling of euphoria from Imodium only activates when such large dosage amounts are taken – there’s an unfortunate prediction that the number of deadly cases involving the abuse of such medications will rise.
Since the main active ingredient acts in the same way as an opioid receptor (in the gut), more and more individuals are beginning to turn to Imodium for their “fix”.
Hopefully, there’s a brighter side to the story and once the FDA has successfully enforced their most recent guidelines we’ll begin to see smaller amounts of loperamide used in anti-diarrhea medications which should naturally result in a decrease in abuse cases.
Dr. Vikram Tarugu, M.D, is the CEO of Detox of South Florida, Inc and medical professional focused on addiction. A veteran in the medical field with over 25 years of professional experience. He is a consultant for many South Florida Rehab centers. Patients travel from allover the US to seek his help with addiction and Hepatitis C treatment.
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