Using Imodium to Treat Opiate Withdrawal

What is Loperamide?

Loperamide hydrochloride, otherwise known as Imodium, is an opioid medication that is used to treat several forms of diarrhea. Loperamide works by binding to opioid receptors in the digestive system to slow down the movement of the intestines. It is available inexpensively over-the-counter without a prescription. Recently, people who are suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms have been experimenting with loperamide to treat their symptoms. To date, there is no research that points to loperamide being effective in treating opiate withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, high doses of loperamide can lead to dangerous side effects and, in some cases, fatal overdoses.

Using Loperamide Hydrochloride (Imodium) to Treat Opiate Withdrawal
Opiates are drugs that are directly derived from the Papaver somniferum plant, an opium poppy. Drugs such as morphine and codeine are considered to be opiates. Opioids refer to any natural, synthetic or semi-synthetic drug that has opiate-like properties, and includes all opiates, such as the previously mentioned drugs. Opioids work by binding to various opioid receptors in the brain, causing pain relief, sedation and euphoria. They have been used over the years to treat severe pain but have also become drugs of abuse. People who abuse opiates are in danger of becoming dependent, having an overdose and experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms.
People who use opiates start to build up a tolerance to the drug very quickly. Building up a tolerance means that they need to take higher amounts of the drug to feel the same effects. Tolerance can happen in people who take opiates, as prescribed, to manage pain as well in those who use the drugs recreationally. When doses are increased to compensate for the increased tolerance, the body starts to adapt and become physiologically dependent. Opiate dependence leads to severe withdrawal symptoms that can begin to surface just hours after the person’s last opiate dose. Prolonged abuse of opiate drugs can lead to fatal overdoses.
There are several medications that are designed to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. Some people have turned to taking loperamide hydrochloride, sold under the brand name Imodium, in an attempt to manage their withdrawal symptoms. The effectiveness of Imodium in treating opiate withdrawal is highly doubted and not recommended by any health professional.

Imodium works on opioid receptors in the digestive tract but the drug is usually unable to cross the blood-brain barrier -a process that is required to provide the pain relief and other euphoric effects associated with other opiate drugs. Since Imodium does not affect the brain when taken in recommended doses, people have to take tremendous amounts of the drug, sometimes hundreds of pills at one time, in an attempt to relieve their withdrawal symptoms. This can be extremely dangerous since high doses of loperamide can suppress the heart and lungs, slow other body functions and even result in a fatal overdose.

People who are seeking relief from opiate withdrawal symptoms should avoid loperamide and seek safe and effective medical treatment. Opiate replacement drugs, like buprenorphine, are used by professionals to manage the symptoms of opiate withdrawal and assist patients in clearing their bodies of all drugs. Getting professional treatment in a controlled setting where patients can be monitored is the best method of addressing opiate addiction. After the initial detoxification stage, professionals will design a management plan which may include therapy, counseling and other treatment options to help patients recover from opiate addiction.

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