ROYAL OAK (WWJ) – Amid a nationwide public health crisis, some opioid addicts are turning to anti-diarrhea medicine to get high.

At the recommended dose, over-the-counter Imodium (a popular brand name for Loperamide) does its job. However, Dr. Roy Soto — an anesthesiologist at Beaumont Royal Oak —  says, in very large amounts, the drug can have a narcotic effect.

“There are reports of people taking as many as 300 pills a day to try to get high,” Soy told WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites. “But the undesirable effects of narcotics and this Imodium stuff is that they can make you constipated and itchy and drowsy and it can interfere with breathing.”

Who would even think to do this? Typically, Soy said, these are people who have already become hooked on opioids.

“What happens is that people have access to medications, whether they were given it because of a knee operation or because they found it in their mother’s medicine cabinet — and they become addicted very, very quickly,” he explained. “And when they run out of pills, they have to figure out how to get a high somewhere else.”

Soy said desperate addicts often will seek out heroin or fentanyl, am imported synthetic opioid. When all else fails, they may then resort to downing massive doses of OTC medications like Imodium.

“And, as you can imagine, it would be hard for you to go to Save On and buy 300 pills of anything, and so what folks are doing is they’re ordering it online,” Soy said. “There’s really nothing stopping patients from ordering thousands of pills.”

The problem is so serious that the FDA is cracking down on manufacturers of over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicines, asking them to change the way they package their products — including fewer pills per packet. For example, a retail package of Imodium or store brand Loperamide could contain eight 2-milligram capsules, which is enough for two days.

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