Loperamide Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

Loperamide is the generic name of the over-the-counter drug Imodium. Loperamide is also available in prescription form. It’s used to treat acute cases of diarrhea. Loperamide works by slowing the movement of the intestines and reducing the frequency of bowel movements. Loperamide can also be used to treat symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and gastroenteritis. Loperamide, when used as instructed, is considered to be a fairly safe and effective drug. For the most part, loperamide side effects are minimal. Common side effects can include constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth or vomiting.

There has been a troubling trend with loperamide. Loperamide is an opioid receptor agonist. In normal, therapeutically recommended doses, loperamide acts on opioid receptors in the large intestine and cannot cross the blood-brain barrier like commonly abused opioid drugs. A normal dose is considered to be no more than around 16 mg in a 24-hour period.

In very high doses, loperamide can actually cross the blood-brain barrier and provide effects that are similar to those of morphine and other opioids. As a result, loperamide is increasingly being abused, earning the nickname of the “poor man’s methadone.” Recently, loperamide has become so problematic that regulatory agencies in the U.S. are working on relabeling the drug and limiting how it’s purchased. When someone abuses loperamide at high doses, it can result in respiratory depression.

When someone abuses large amounts of loperamide, they may become dependent upon the drug and go through withdrawal if they suddenly try to stop using it. If someone is dependent upon opioids and/or loperamide, withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, diarrhea, muscle aches, runny nose, chills, sweating and cravings.

Sometimes, people who are dependent upon other opioids will try to self-medicate their opioid withdrawal symptoms by using loperamide. Theoretically, loperamide can prevent or mitigate opioid withdrawal symptoms, since it activates the same receptors; however, there are many risks associated with using loperamide to manage withdrawal symptoms. First, it can take enormous amounts of loperamide to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Some people take 200 mg or more each day in order to achieve the effects of opioids with the use of loperamide. This leaves a person at risk of overdosing on the loperamide. Loperamide overdose can cause respiratory depression, as well as potentially fatal cardiac issues. Other loperamide overdose symptoms can include urinary retention, paralyzed intestine and liver dysfunction. Additionally, even if someone goes through opioid withdrawal using loperamide, they’re then likely to be dependent upon the loperamide itself -trading one addiction and dependence for another.

The best option for someone who wants to go through an opioid or loperamide detox successfully is to seek professional help. Opioid and loperamide detox can be incredibly uncomfortable, difficult to manage and can serve as a major obstacle to achieving sobriety.

An opioid or loperamide detox program has many benefits for the individual. First, patients are ensured to have professional medical supervision. A medical team can monitor patients as they go through detox and can make sure that they are safe and are as comfortable as possible. Additionally, certain medications can be given to help patients as they detox. A professional loperamide detox can also include an assessment for co-occurring mental health conditions. During a professional detox, a patient can start receiving treatment for any mental health issues that may exist. In order for someone to receive addiction treatment for opioids or loperamide, they first have to detox. Doing so in the right kind of facility will significantly increase the chances of recovery.

Take the first step for your loved one or yourself today and contact The Recovery Village.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.