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Substance Abuse Spotlight: Loperamide
Drug addicts are constantly looking for a cost effective high, and they’ve found an alternative to methadone, which is expensive and difficult to procure. This alternative is Loperamide, which can cause a user to become high when it is consumed in sufficient amounts.
What is Loperamide?
Loperamide is a substance which is commonly found in anti-diarrhea medications. Up until recently, many physicians didn’t even realize that this substance could be abused. It has to be taken in significant amounts to achieve a high, which is dangerous because in larger quantities it is toxic to the heart. If the substance doesn’t kill the user outright then it can cause irregular heartbeats which are dangerous.
The advent of Loperamide abuse is partly a result of efforts on the part of doctors to restrict access to prescription opioids, due to the increasing rate of addiction throughout the U.S. In response to these restrictions many addicts are looking for cheap, alternative sources, and anti-diarrhea medications fit the bill perfectly. They are cheap and in most cases can be acquired without a prescription. This makes them extremely difficult to control.
How Loperamide is Abused
Many patients use Loperamide as a bridge. This means that it is used in situations where they’re unable to get ahold of morphine or heroin, which are their preferred drugs of choice. Heroin addicts who are unable to access the drug will experience withdrawal symptoms, and Loperamide can be used to alleviate the vomiting, nausea and muscle pains.
The FDA has become aware of the issue, and has stated that they will take actions to correct the problem as soon as possible. This will in all likelihood involve the removal of Loperamide in anti-diarrhea medications and substituting it with another substance. In the meantime, both doctors and family members must watch for potential signs of abuse.
Loperamide Dosage Levels
Taking the recommended dosage of Loperamide poses no threats to the heart. The standard dose recommended daily is eight milligrams, or four pills. Loperamide abusers, however, are known to take as much as 100 pills of two milligrams each within a single day. Opiate addicts who are suffering from withdrawal to drugs such as heroin are at greatest risk for abusing Loperamide, and can easily overdose and kill themselves with such high dosages. When this happens it isn’t unusual for toxicology results to show levels which are more than twenty five times the recommended dose within the addict’s blood.
Loperamide has a number of properties which make it troublesome. In the past it was classified as a controlled substance and prescription drug, placing it in the same category as methadone. However, the FDA approved it during the 1970s, and by the late 1980s it could be acquired over the counter. This combined with the fact it is cheap and easy to acquire in significant quantities without raising questions makes it a serious problem and potential threat to those looking for a cheap high. Unlike other drugs it does not enter the central nervous system, but the large quantities needed to acquire a high can still make it fatal to those that abuse it.
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