Opioid High on Imodium | Health Blog

Date: 05/12/2016    Written by: Hiyaguha Cohen

Getting High on Imodium

For kids who grow up in sugar-restricted homes--homes where Halloween candy gets tossed in the trash by parents who don't care that all the other neighborhood kids get to enjoy their treats--the chocolate-flavored Ex-Lax in the cabinet holds powerful allure. Ex-Lax has been on the market as a constipation buster for over 100 years, and you can bet that thousands, maybe even millions of kids over the past century have snitched a taste to get a chocolate fix. I admit to giving the stuff a try myself back in my pigtail days. Of course it didn't taste as good as Hershey's and the side effects weren't on my agenda, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

A similar but far more harrowing and dangerous trend has come to light recently. Apparently, opioid addicts are now turning to anti-diarrheal medications­ containing the ingredient loperamide to allay their cravings.1 Loperamide is the main active ingredient in Imodium A-D. The public health problem isn't just that people are taking the medication without needing it. It's that they're taking massive amounts, 50 to 300 pills a day, leading to devastating health effects.2

What's that you say? You don't recall any buzz the last time you had the runs and resorted to a dose of Imodium? That's because the opioid effect kicks in only at very high doses, at least 10 times the recommended amount. Like other opioids, Imodium slows the system down, but in the case of Imodium's intended use, it works specifically on intestinal movement so that bowel movements slow down. 

"It's an opioid agent, and it helps to bind receptors in the brain and cause a similar euphoria or high [as other opioids like heroin]," explains Dr. Scott Krakower of Northwell Health in New York.3

Why would anyone take Imodium instead of more efficient downers like oxycontin? Because it's easy to get Imodium A-D without a prescription, for one thing. Those addicted to opioids like oxycontin usually have trouble getting enough of the stuff. Nowadays at least, ethical doctors don't like to give out prescriptions except in cases of dire need. Other opioids, like heroin, are illegal under all circumstances and therefore even harder to obtain. Another thing that makes Imodium attractive to addicts is that it's dirt cheap compared to the street prices for the more obvious opioids. At Costco.com, for instance, you can buy a package of 400 pills for $7.59. Now that's a cheap high if you discount the medical costs you'll accrue by abusing your system with such massive doses.

Addicts who can't get their usual, more potent drugs may take Imodium as a stop-gap measure when they start to experience withdrawal symptoms. According to a study just published in The Annals of Emergency Medicine, at 10 times the normal dose, users can get some relief from withdrawal symptoms. At higher doses, they experience a real high.

The danger comes because unlike other opiates, loperamide can also cause heart arrhythmias, kidney failure, and liver failure with sometimes fatal results. It also depresses respiratory function as do other opiates, and users can die because they can't breathe. The National Poison Center reports a 71 percent increase in calls related to loperamide overdosing in the four years from 2011 to 2014.

Popping a few hundred Imodium may not sound like fun to the average person, but as Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children's Association says, "Folks that are desperately addicted, folks that are looking to stave off withdrawal symptoms will do whatever it takes--sometimes, really extreme things."

User conversations on the internet attest to what Dr. Reynolds says. "[My Imodium abuse] started when I was withdrawing from poppy seed tea and was fed up with it, and ready to try anything," writes a user on the website Bluelight.org.4 "I took 10 mg of loperamide and worked my way up to 40 mg, taking another 10 mg every 15 minutes. At 40 mg, I realized that my withdrawals were completely gone. This alone warranted loperamide as a lifesaver, in my opinion. I could always use it to counter withdrawals, so I need never fear them again as long as I was within range of the local grocery store or Walgreens."

Then later he writes, "I took 60 loperamide pills (120 mg). I wasn't expecting a real high, but … about 20 minutes after taking the 60 pills… I suddenly realized that I felt great. I had a real, bona fide feeling of euphoria."

The user goes on to explain that tolerance "goes up fast" and that he currently requires 170 pills to get high.

A bunch of other users chime in, too. Another writes, "130mg of loperamide gave me a codeine-esqe buzz. It works for me and that is all I care about. For those interested, I also [have normal bowel movements] after two days and the effects lasted over 8 hrs for me."

Of course, it's amazing that people actually write about such things on the internet, but then again, these same people are popping unthinkable amounts of diarrhea medication. By the way, the comments above were dated 2008, indicating that Imodium abuse has been going on for years, even if the medical community is just now catching on.

The authors of the study suggest that sales of any medications containing loperamide should be restricted in the same way that drugs containing pseudoephedrine and dextromethorphan are now controlled. Sounds like a good idea until you consider the fact that high-starved addicts will simply move on and find yet another seemingly innocuous substance to snort, shoot, or chew in pursuit of blissful oblivion.

  • 1. Venosa, Ali. "Opiate Withdrawal Driving People to Abuse Diarrhea Medication Imodium: Overdoses Causing Cardiac Dysrhythmia, Death." 4 May 2016. Medical Daily. 5 May 2016. http://www.medicaldaily.com/opiate-withdrawal-diarrhea-medication-imodium-cardiac-dysrhythmia-384700
  • 2. Dicker, Rachel. "People Are Getting High on this Drug for Diarrhea, Study Suggests." 5 May 2016. US News & World Report. 5 May 2016. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-05/opioid-addicts-using-anti-diarrhea-medication-to-get-high-study-suggests
  • 3. Finch, Elise. "Study: Addicts Turning to Anti-Diarrhea Medication Imodium A-D to Get High." 4 May 2016. CBS Local. 5 May 2016. http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2016/05/04/study-imodium-ad-high/
  • 4. http://www.bluelight.org/vb/threads/398325-%28Loperamide-96-mgs%29-Experienced-YES-I-m-high

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    Submitted by Michael Manzer on
    May 18, 2016 - 1:41pm

    Your article on Immodium has me concerned, as I have to take it for Diarrhea almost every day to slow down my stomach. I take from 2-6 per day depending on the situation. The strength is 2 MG which is prescribed by my Doctor.What side effects do these pills do to your body?

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    May 23, 2016 - 12:22pm

    As the article points out, people are talking about taking anywhere from 40-120 mg a day. You’re not really at that level. That said, if you have diarrhea every day, you might find the following link informative—specifically the section that talks about colon detoxifying formulas, as the presence of psyllium, pectin, and montmorillonite clay tend to be binding and effective in slowing down diarrhea. https://jonbarron.org/article/death-begins-colon

    Submitted by Frank San Felippo on
    July 25, 2016 - 10:30pm
    West allis , Wisconsin

    Its socialists like this page that are really causing addicts to do what they do in the first place. People drink wine, beer, hard liquor, smoke their cigs, their big fat cigars, coffee, eat fast foods, but if someone wants to put a substance into their bodies and it's not regulated, they are automatically the scum of society.
    What makes one "addict" better than another? Oh, right, the Govt says it's OK. Who are they to tell a person how they should feel? The Govt. is the reason people die from drugs! A person that just want to feel better buys themselves some "drugs" to take the edge off, then 2 weeks later they do it again, not knowing that this batch is purer than the last, the do what they do, 10 minutes later they are dead!!! Just because of the stupid "just say no" campaign from the 80s. In the 30s, people were dieing off of bad "hooch", but the Govt. stepped in and rescinended prohibition and things were fine once again.
    Why doesnt the Govt. legalize all drugs you ask, it's because of the Big Pharmaceutical keeps filling all our elected officials and doctors pockets with "I love you" money! This makes the people I just mentioned richer while they tell you everything that is banned will kill you. So saying that, where are all these "crack" babies that will have mental damage and won't be able to function that we were told of in the 90s? I still can't find one on the street if I tried.
    The moral of this story is, it's my life, I have friend and family. I can function with anyone, I have a job and I don't look like a movie junkie. All my family knows my history and they know I will do what I want. Why does the Govt. tell me what I can and can't do? Oh yeah, I covered that. If I want to be "high", let me be "high", it's not hurting you is it? I also don't plan on living until I'm 85 and pooping myself either, I will go out on my own terms, now is that illegal also?
    Anyways, don't judge a book by its cover, you are not better than me because in the end we all will have worms crawling out of our sockets.
    Good luck and God bless you all.
    Frank S

    Submitted by Sploin on
    March 2, 2017 - 10:05pm

    I agree with your comment about the judgmental tone of the , article. If people need Imodium to get by, they deserve sympathy and should be offered help. Or if they do it for fun, let them. But I don't see where you get the "socialist" angle. Judging drug addicts or cracking down on recreation drug use is a right-wing tendency. The Trump Administration is already talking about cracking down on recreational marijuana.

    Submitted by Pappiallion1 on
    March 18, 2017 - 12:42pm
    Lodi , California

    I think that by being able to use loperamide it eases withdrawals for some people, I have used it from time to time?

    Submitted by Friend of Frank S. on
    April 8, 2017 - 11:19am
    Cape Coral , Florida

    Say it, Frank S!

    Submitted by Matt on
    September 11, 2016 - 7:53pm

    My friend did that, he died.

    Submitted by andy o'connor on
    December 14, 2017 - 12:15am
    Ft Myers , Florida

    your fine. these people are.at.least taking 40. misprint in article. irresponsible doctors don't want.to.presxribe pain meds. the more.crackdown on narcotics the.more problems. but all patients are.entitled to pain releife.

    Submitted by john miller on
    May 18, 2016 - 2:23pm

    Considering what the junkie goes through or the patient cut off by some heartless doctor after getting them hooked it might be a godsend that this substance can be legally obtained. Everything and anything can be abused. Drugs are not the problem imo. Having a life with meaning and a chance to thrive and grow is and IMO many are not given that chance. I'm certainly not surprised many turn to drugs.

    Submitted by Jonathan C. on
    January 5, 2017 - 11:44am

    I found loperamide about 2013 when I was battling an IV Dilaudid addiction and never got much out of it then tried again 3 months ago just to see if without active opiate tolerance I could feel them......well 3 months later and can't stop. Sucks. Tried kratom for WD but it barely touches it. Ugh....

    Submitted by john miller on
    May 25, 2016 - 8:22am

    For some reason I got this article sent to me again so I'll add this comment. I feel the author takes a negative and a somewhat condescending attitude towards people addicted to opiates. More often than not I think you'll find it's hard to really put the blame on them.

    I also fail to see the benefit in sending out this type of article for the average reader. Just some drama focusing on the misery of others IMO. I'll discontinue my participation in this site of this continues.

    Submitted by Brian on
    February 23, 2017 - 5:04pm
    Schuylkill Haven , Pennsylvania

    In response to this: "I also fail to see the benefit in sending out this type of article for the average reader. Just some drama focusing on the misery of others IMO. I'll discontinue my participation in this site of this continues."

    Then go away because with articles like this, it helps to bring awareness to the problem. There's two sides to the coin: you're either helping the problem or adding to the problem. More information less problem ... liberals, stupidity at its finest.

    Submitted by R Pinkston on
    July 18, 2016 - 6:23am

    I agree with you Mr. Miller. Addiction unfortunately is not accepted as a disease at this time. Many will say that it is but by reading this article and so many more like it, I am sad. The fact that one person can take something and quit without cause and one can't tells me there is something different going on that is different. Until addicts are treated with compassion and not judgement, these fatal behaviors will continue. I hope one day that there will be help for those that find themselves in the mist of addiction. After reading these articles,all I can feel is scared. Thank you. xxx

    Submitted by Tim Mahoney on
    July 20, 2016 - 10:59am

    I 100% disagree that this author has a negative attitude. She even called using Imodium a "harrowing and dangerous trend." What you should be scared about is having to be so POLITICALLY correct on every single problem, disease, addiction, or feeling. Remember, the ONLY reason we have to call these problems "diseases" is so BIG PHARMA can prescribe lots and lots of drugs. Really, is that what we need? Another "Disease" for more drugs? I have had friends die of addiction, and let me tell you, there is NO ROOM to be soft or compassionate either, if you want to help them stay alive. WAKE UP and face reality so addicts can face theirs. It's called tough love, something we don't see anymore these days and why our world is falling apart.

    Submitted by Frank San Felippo on
    July 25, 2016 - 10:43pm

    Yes you are correct. But legalizing and taxing it would be even better. People are going to do what they want anywho.

    Submitted by Kristi on
    August 11, 2016 - 9:01pm
    Woodstock , Virginia

    The addict will die faster from tough love than if you keep trying. They may still die, but at least you won't have to justify your abandonment with the tough love defense. Psychologists use the tough love defense to help people who can't deal with their own grief or those who can't handle the stress of helping someone. I almost died until my grandmother stepped in when my family totally abandoned me. It is almost impossible to try when you have help and impossible without it. Why try, nobody cares. Nobody will notice if I live or die.

    Submitted by Brenden dzek on
    November 9, 2017 - 11:46am
    Rio rancho , New Mexico

    Wow totally true thanks for that comment

    Submitted by Ben R. on
    June 11, 2017 - 9:27pm

    (Tim).. Your lack of knowledge in this subject is concerning. Before you spread your thoughts in such an informative matter, you should do your research, to ensure the information is in fact correct. The tough love approach has been used in this country since day 1. Tell me, how do you think its working out??

    Submitted by Yours truly on
    November 11, 2017 - 8:34pm
    Schenectady , New York

    I am a heroin addict who just went on Suboxone and decided to look Imodium up because I have a stomach ache & lo and behold I find out that it will ease my withdrawal symptoms....if abused. But guess what I am thinking now. this article does more than put addicts down, it gives them ANOTHER path in this addiction & maybe not a good one.

    Submitted by asd on
    September 4, 2016 - 5:01pm
    g , Hawaii

    I'm sorry guys, but it doesn't cross BBB. It works on GI symptoms only.

    Submitted by Luce on
    September 28, 2016 - 9:01am
    Tampa , Florida

    Thats bs, at exceeding doses it does cross the blood brain barrier. First hand and second hand experience that it gets you high.

    Submitted by Jason on
    November 23, 2016 - 9:45am
    Boston , Massachusetts

    Oh yes it does cross the bloom brain barrier. You have to take at least 60 Mg's. Don't knock it until you tried it. It got me off heroin and Suboxone. Iam still taking it in large doses. Iam not proud of it. It is highly addictive and a son of a bitch to withdrawal from. The chemical in Imodium is loperamide which is an opiate antagonist. Pretty much in the family of opiates.

    Submitted by Ginny on
    November 23, 2016 - 8:26pm
    Pineville ,

    My son had cardiac arrest and is in a coma from taking between 200-300 loperimide
    Apparently he has been using this to get high since the beginning of 2016.
    Don't kid yourselves into thinking it won't hurt you.
    For the person who said he didn't want to live to be 80 shitting himself. He better have a living will made, because the last time I checked they can still keep you alive shitting yourself in a coma a very long time!!!!
    Please don't use this drug to get high. If you use it long enough you won't have to worry about anything except that maybe you will survive and be a vegetable in a nursing home somewhere. There are somethings worse than death!!!

    Submitted by Jody Knight on
    October 31, 2016 - 6:52pm
    Maryville , Tennessee

    I tried 50 loperamide pills. I felt a very slight, and I mean very slight, opiate buzz. More like just a change in how my head and body felt. But that night and next morning, chest pain and pain in arms. I take beta blockers anyway that act on the heart. But, yeah I'm an opiate addict. Usually I can handle 100 mgs of oxycodone at once and you'd never know I took anything. But loperamide had cardiovascular effects that no other opiate I've took had, besides maybe Darvocet, remember those?? Anyway, no I'm not sorry for myself, nor do I want your pity. Just thought I'd share my experience with this crap. It's for the dogs. I don't need it. Was just curious.

    Submitted by anna on
    November 18, 2016 - 9:51am
    Albuquerque , New Mexico

    Hi, recovering heroin addict here to chime in... thanks for making all addicts look like crazed lunatics with no brain or life, by the way. You really need to rethink this article there is a lot of false information here. The quote that Dr. Scott Krakower said is taken completely out of context. Because while Loperimide is an opiate and it does bind to opiate receptors like heroin etc.. it ONLY binds to the ones in the stomach which is why is is over the counter. It DOES NOT cross the blood brain barrier and bind to the ones in the brain which is why it CANNOT get you high, no matter at however large of dose you take, it is a placebo affect when people swear they get high from it. While it will stop some of the withdrawal symptoms in the stomach it won't get you high, trust me I've tried it before in a desperate fit of withdrawal. There is no way the DEA would just "oops we accidentally missed Loperimide and we accidentally put it over the counter instead of making it a Scedule 2 drug"

    Submitted by Jonathan C. on
    December 7, 2016 - 8:53am
    Denham Springs , Louisiana

    I disagree completely. I have used used loperamide in the past with no relief but recently I tried it again because I couldn't get my usual kratom so I went to Walmart and got a 96 count bottle and took 50 of them. I guess it was about 3 hours later and I noticed a VERY PRONOUNCED opiate high similar to buprenorphine or maybe fentanyl. Also kept me feeling very good all the next day. Only drawback was I was EXTREMELY itchy. It's a lifesaver. I'm actually about to get dressed and go to Walmart to get some coffee creamer and another bottle. My Phenibut comes today so that should be an interesting combination. Cheers everyone and hope you all have a great day!!!

    Submitted by Dawn Murtha on
    February 2, 2017 - 4:42am

    This article has frightened the life out of me I am drug free 18 years after moving to the middle of nowhere ro get away from opiates and have just found out that I have a cupboard full of opiates in the kitchen. Im stunned this medication has opiates in it.

    Submitted by RF on
    February 13, 2017 - 8:10am
    Pearland , Texas

    My nephew just passed in his sleep at 27 a few days ago. He was trying his best to stay off anphetamines. All we found were empty boxes of anti diaretics from Walmart. Autopsy takes months to come back. I had no idea people could get high off of Loperamide.

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    February 14, 2017 - 1:40pm

    Wow, that is such devastating news. We are very sorry for your loss.  Thank you for sharing.

    Submitted by WestKoast on
    February 19, 2017 - 2:14pm
    Phoenix , Arizona

    Loperamide will kill you. My heart stopped multiple times. It blocks the calcium channels in your heart and leads to deadly arrhythmias such as vtach, torsades de pointes, and vfib. Loperamide got me off of 130mg of methadone that was running and ruining my life and wallet. I thought loperamide was the holy grail. 3 long years later I'm using micro dose suboxone to get off. The withdrawls from loperamide are WORSE than other opiates in my opinion. Thats because it also affects your Peripheral nervous system. Restless legs? Ha I wish. Restless BODY is more like it. Your skin will crawl and you'll want to rip it off. And the w/d lasts wayy longer than traditional opiates like heroin.

    Just want to say this; these addicts, are not "desparete to get high on diarrhea meds." have ANY person in the world experience acute opiate withdrawl full on and guarantee they would try anything to make themselves not sick anyway they could. So opiate addiction IS a disease because your brain stopped making its own endorphins(endogenous morphine) your own natural opiate.

    Also I couldn't find anything online about this AT all so I had to be a guenie pig. I was able to take suboxone 36 hours after my last loperamide dose with no percipitated withdrawal. It may be less or more for others but I always go by the multiple sneeze rule.. If your sneezing amd restless af than you can start suboxone induction.

    Check your area for FREE suboxone clinics. GET OFF LOPERAMIDE. So many have died. Your life matters! I am clean and free today with the help of micro dose suboxone and medical marijuana and concentrates. Never thought I'd come this far. If I can get off 150 pills per day SO CAN YOU

    If you or someone you know are suffering a loperamide addiction PLEASE get help or switch to another opiate at least.

    Much love ❤❤❤


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