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Opioid Addicts Find a New High from Anti-Diarrhea Drug

Addicts seeking a high when they cannot get the pill, drink or powder they crave are notorious for their creativity. A recent example came to light in the opioid abuse epidemic – intentional overdosing on anti-diarrhea medicine.

Loperamide, the generic form of Imodium, can mask withdrawal symptoms for oxycodone and other opioid-like painkillers if taken at 10 times the recommended amounts. At even higher doses, the drug mimics the euphoria of opioids and their synthetic counterparts.

Overdoses of loperamide at any level are risky. The amounts addicts are ingesting to feed their habits can cause cardiac arrhythmia or death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning on June 7 after a recent study by toxicology experts showed an uptick in loperamide abuse.

“Because of its low cost, ease of accessibility and legal status, it’s a drug that is very, very ripe for abuse,” says William Eggleston, a doctor of pharmacy and fellow in clinical toxicology at the Upstate New York Poison Center, which is affiliated with SUNY Upstate Medical University. He is the lead author of the loperamide research report. His remarks were aired in a National Public Radio interview in May.

Addiction is not just a personal problem or a family problem. HLM partner Steve Lowry recently obtained a $40 million jury award on behalf of a south Georgia police chief who was hit head-on by a driver under the influence of oxycodone. Evidence showed he was an oxycodone abuser.

As he started investigating the case, Steve was stunned to learn how deep the opioid and synthetic opioid problem goes. The drugs “are being tremendously abused,” he said in an interview with WSAV TV in Savannah.

Some drugs increase the levels of loperamide in the body, which can be mixed to get a more intense high. Tagamet, erythromycin, quinine (contained in tonic water), Zantac and ketoconazole are among the drugs that boost effects of loperamide.

WebMD’s comprehensive account of narcotics addiction says some signs of narcotics abuse include:

  • Euphoria
  • Sedation
  • Slowed breathing
  • Itching
  • Flushed skin

If you or someone you know is addicted to opioids or similar drugs and want help, the National Institute on Drug Abuse provides detailed information on drug addiction and approaches to treatment. Medline Plus provides detailed information on loperamide use and its side effects.

Harris Lowry Manton attorneys have decades of experience helping clients with personal and catastrophic injury claims related to impaired driving and many other causes. If you need help, contact us for a free consultation. Call us toll-free at 404-961-7650 or fill out our online contact form.

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