Bad title, good article. You’ll be hearing a lot more buzz about this very soon.
Imodium® For A Legal High Is As Dumb And Dangerous As It Sounds
WASHINGTON —The over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medication Imodium®,
or its key ingredient loperamide, is increasingly being abused by people
attempting to self-treat their opioid addiction, with sometime fatal
results. Two case studies outlining the phenomenon were published online
Friday in Annals of Emergency Medicine (“Loperamide Abuse Associated
with Cardiac Dysrhythmia and Death”).
“Loperamide’s accessibility, low cost, over-the-counter legal
status and lack of social stigma all contribute to its potential for
abuse,” said lead study author William Eggleston, PharmD, of the
Upstate New York Poison Center, in Syracuse, New York. “People looking
for either self-treatment of withdrawal symptoms or euphoria are
overdosing on loperamide with sometimes deadly consequences. Loperamide
is safe in therapeutic doses but extremely dangerous in high doses.”
The paper outlines two case studies of patients with histories of
substance abuse who attempted to self-treat opioid addictions with
massive doses of loperamide. Both patients overdosed and emergency
medical services were called. The patients were treated with
cardiopulmonary resuscitation, naloxone and standard Advanced Cardiac
Life Support. Both patients died.
Oral loperamide abuse postings to web-based forums increased 10-fold
between 2010 and 2011. A majority of user-generated content pertaining
to loperamide discussed using the medication to self-treat opioid
withdrawal (70 percent). Users also cited abusing the medication for
its euphoric properties (25 percent). The Upstate New York Poison Center
experienced a seven-fold increase in calls related to loperamide abuse
or misuse from 2011 through 2015, which is consistent with national
poison data, that reported a 71 percent increase in calls related to
intentional loperamide exposure from 2011 through 2014.
“Our nation’s growing population of opioid-addicted patients is
seeking alternative drug sources with prescription opioid medication
abuse being limited by new legislation and regulations,” said Dr.
Eggleston. “Health care providers must be aware of increasing
loperamide abuse and its under recognized cardiac toxicity. This is
another reminder that all drugs, including those sold without a
prescription, can be dangerous when not used as directed.”
Annals of Emergency Medicine is the peer-reviewed scientific journal
for the American College of Emergency Physicians, the national medical
society representing emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing
emergency care through continuing education, research, and public
education. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters
representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of
Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency physicians
employed by military branches and other government agencies. For more
information, visit http://www.acep.org.
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