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FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Properties

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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    WASHINGTON -- Federal health officials are investigating sometimes-deadly overdoses with common anti-diarrhea drugs, a bizarre manifestation of the nation's drug abuse problem.

    The primary ingredient in prescription Imodium and similar over-the-counter drugs, loperamide, is intended to control diarrhea. But abusers sometimes try to achieve heroin-like highs by taking massive doses, up to 300 milligrams at once, according to cases in the medical literature. Recommended doses range between 8 milligrams and 16 milligrams per day.

    The Food and Drug Administration warned doctors and patients Tuesday that the drugs can cause potentially deadly heart problems when taken at higher-than-recommended levels. The agency has received 31 reports of people hospitalized due to the heart problems, including 10 deaths over the last 39 years. The agency's database is not comprehensive and many drug overdoses are not reported to the government. But as CBS News reported last month, national poison control centers experienced a 71 percent increase in calls involving loperamide-containing drugs between 2011 and 2014, according to a journal article published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

    "Folks that are desperately addicted, folks that are looking to stave off withdrawal symptoms, will do whatever it takes, sometimes, really extreme things," Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds of the Family and Children's Association told CBS New York. "So in the scheme of things, taking 300 pills is not unheard of."

    The authors of Tuesday's FDA report recommended restricting over-the-counter sales of the anti-diarrhea drugs, similar to other easily abused medications like pseudoephedrine, the decongestant used in Sudafed and other pills that can be processed into methamphetamine.

    FDA regulators said in an online posting that they are monitoring the issue and considering next steps. Reports of abuse are rising amid an epidemic of addiction and abuse involving opioids, a family of drugs that includes narcotics like heroin and legal prescriptions like morphine and oxycodone. In some cases, opioid abusers will attempt to wean themselves off those drugs by substituting the anti-diarrhea drugs.

    In 2014, more than 47,000 drug overdoses were recording in the U.S., with opioids accounting for 61 percent of that total, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal and state authorities have been trying to reverse opioid abuse for years, though overdose deaths have continued to rise.


    AP via CBS/June 7, 2016
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/fda-people-are-overdosing-on-anti-diarrhea-drugs/
    Newshawk Crew

    About Author

    Beenthere2Hippie
    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.

Comments

  1. Name goes here
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    More terrible reporting at its best. "heroin-like highs" huh. The drug does not cross the blood brain barrier nor does most anyone feel anything from it. What it does help with is withdrawals. They are trying to ban kratom everywhere. Getting clean without regulated, strong medications is going to become impossible.
  2. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    I don't know man. Check out the loperamide sub forum and you'll see that lope is a legitimate problem. It really has been proven that in large enough doses, a small amount of lope can cross the blood-brain barrier and cause opioid-like effects. Not like heroin. That is an exaggeration. But, I know people (including me) who have gotten the nods off 20-30mg. And that's a low amount.

    I'm not saying you're wrong. It may be sensational journalism, but there are people who are addicted to the stuff. Whether they're using it to withdraw, or just for a "high", some people find that when they try to get off it, they can only taper to a certain dosage and can't go lower because they get sick.

    Now, this whole "lope causing heart problems"...that is definitely news to me.

    In my opinion and just to sum it up, I can't believe it took this freaking long for this to get the government and media's attention. And the myth that it simply cannot cross the blood-brain barrier is just that...a myth.

    The BB barrier is not like some impenetrable web around the brain. If you take enough of the stuff, enough to cause a high can get through and it doesn't take much. Check out loperamide on the web and you'll see that it's quite a potent opioid but it's supposed to only hit the receptors in the gut, causing the stool to travel through the intestines more slowly...just like when you're on opiates you get constipated. But if you take a way high dose, you'll get some CNS action.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I just took a look and there is no loperamide sub forum. Sorry for the inaccurate info. However, if you do a search, I'm sure you'll find plenty of threads re: loperamide. I know I've read quite a few on here in the past.
  3. Beenthere2Hippie
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    I believe the scientific dangers involved of misuse of loperamide are very real and more specifically explained in this May 3rd, 2016 news release from Science Daily in which author William Eggerton - PharmD, of the Upstate New York Poison Center, in Syracuse, New York - explains, "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."

    "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."

    source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160503130528.htm
  4. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    Also, the key here is that lope doesn't do harm in prescribed dosages, but people are taking 10x plus to get the effects in the article. It's that super-high dose that's the cause.
  5. DeepGreenSea
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    I know everyone is tired of my Big Medical Opinion but Extremely High Doses of Loperamide can cause cardiac issues...

    Arrhythmia-the ventricles are usually affected, but eventually enough Lope can cause your heart to forget how to beat.

    That's not to say that Lope can't be helpful or that the Mainstream Media isn't Using its "Jumping to Conclusions" mat but it can also be very dangerous...to your colon, your heart, your excretory organs, and your brains ability to regulate your breathing.

    Better to know the whole story and make choices with all the relevant data!!
  6. JonnyBGoode
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    For some reason despite being a heroin addict with a bad crack problem on top, I am still shocked when I come on DF and see threads from people that have decided to use Loperamide to get off opiates and have taken extremely high and potentially dangerous or even life threatening doses. It just shows the desperation that us opiate addicts go through, I know the feeling well, when you literally just feel so awful coming off heroin that you don't want to be alive anyway so doing something that may harm your long term future health or threaten your short term life you just don't really care that much as you will simply do ANYTHING not to feel that way any more.

    It's incredibly sad when people are so desperate that these are the measures they'll go to but addiction is a very powerful thing and every minute of cold turkey feels like hours and hours to the sufferer and it reaches a point where you will just do anything to make it stop. At one stage maybe about 1 year or 18 months ago this Loperamide 'method' of getting off heroin without the brutal pain was actually gaining popularity on DF and people were almost suggesting it as a cheap way of getting off heroin. Luckily the wisdom of DF members prevailed and those threads soon became littered with warnings and harm prevention advice and it seemed to die down a bit.

    Is there no methadone or Subutex/Suboxone programs available to those that are financially struggling in the U.S.A? Do you have to have insurance to qualify? It seems so cruel that people can put themselves through this type of shit when a Buprenorphine tablet probably costs less than $1 to a surgery or hospital.

    One thing I will say about the UK health service, for all its faults, is that they do give addicts Methadone and Subutex free of charge. Mainly as an attempt to stop addicts having to commit crimes to stave off sickness I think but also to try and get people on to maintenance and reducing down from there. But if you're really desperate and in cold turkey and it's 4am and you have no prescription plus there are no Pharmacies open to dispense in any case, you can walk into the A&E department of a hospital and they will give you something whether it's Subutex or Methadone or maybe even Dihydrocodeine. With the growing opiate epidemic in the States now affecting quite a few upper and middle class folk as well as the more traditional low income bracket of users, maybe addiction medications and treatments are just seen as another emerging market for the pharmaceutical companies.
  7. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    Unfortunately, in many areas in the US there aren't many bupe doctors at all.

    Also, they used to cap the number of patients a buprenorphine doc could take at 100. I believe that is changing now, in light of our current opioid epidemic.
  8. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    Also, some people just don't have access. Like, can't afford treatment.

    The U.K. Is much more advanced in this regard (and many others, I'd say).
  9. DeepGreenSea
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    The Bupe cap, in the US at least, is still at 100 patients per license...

    Which is why my MMT clinic keeps hiring a docs and NP's-more bodies mean more bodies type thing!!
  10. noddygirl
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    Healthcare in Europe is so much better. But I think there's a slight possibility your easy healthcare lifestyle in England might end due to high influx of immigration and costs.
    America sucks when it comes to healthcare because Republicans obsessively try to block all social programs. And half of Americans are really dumb and dont vote for their own self interests. They vote for these stupid Republicans which block all social programs. Addicts in America dont get treated as well, and often get treated like shit. There's a sort of sadism towards addicts in America.
    Anyways thanks for posting this article, It gave me the idea to go out and buy a 12 pack of Immodium all of which I downed immediately =). It seems to have taken away some of the withdrawals. I am in the middle of Suboxone withdrawals and have been in a lot of pain and misery.
  11. noddygirl
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    By the way after taking the Immodium, I made the healthy decision to drink green tea and stop drinking vodka. Feeling a bit better led me to make healthier decisions.
  12. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    @noddygirl, I agree with all your points re: republicans and most Americans voting against their self interests. Screw opioids...it's like we're all anesthetized over here.
  13. torn2bits
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    I've no knowledge of the UK'S healthcare system..
    Heres an example I've recently watched a 60 year old lady be discharged from pain management clinic, thus was a result or the new prescription opiate crackdown in the US.

    Seriously I'm curious..
    How does a "government" make a decision to force pain patients out into the streets with no option for pain control?

    How does a "government" crack down in prescribed opiate pain meds WITHOUT a 'plan in place'.

    It seems obvious to me if you reduce 30% of pain patients being able to receive pain meds for incurable issues,why wouldn't the government have a "plan in place" for these patients to resort to?
    This leaves true pain patients with 2 alternatives Suicide or Street drug abuse.
    When SIMPLE thinking in advance to have control measures in place to assist these patients isn't available at all.... nothing is available.
    Isn't this simple cause reaction thinking? Really....

    In the rural U.S. there aren't any maintenance clinics... none, why is this if there's a government rule to cut prescription opiates,w by isn't their a simple plan in place to help the poor patients that have been affected.....isn't this basic common sense?

    If that 60 year old lady, was physically able to rob,steal and physically harm others trying to get pain control, she probably would.
    Her reality is not as simple as crime,she must source any method of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms she will endure....sad state of events.... ToRn
  14. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    Because of all the opioid problems here in the US, my guess is their approach is based on this thought process: Stop giving out the drugs! We'll figure out the rest later!

    It's not like the gov't cares about people really, or pain patients specifically. They are stigmatized.

    If you think this government cares about people, then look at our homeless problem, incarceration rate, use of the death penalty, unjustified wars waged, tax breaks given to corporations...oh wait, they're people too, the imbalance of wealth distribution, sending non-violent drug users to jail only to release rapists and murderers early, hmm, guns (look, I own a gun and am a democrat in favor of gun control), should I keep going?

    Don't get me wrong. We have it pretty good here. But, some stuff is seriously backwards.
  15. cren
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    I was advised by a doctor to take loperamide in large doses for heroin withdrawal. I never followed this advise I am glad now I took the path I did even though its probably just as bad
  16. mess clean
    Re: FDA Warns: People are Dying, Abusing Anti-Diarrhea Medication, with Opiate Proper

    Wow. I hope you're not still seeing that guy...
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