Tag Archives: opiate addiction

OTC Medication Used for Opiate Withdrawal Found Deadly

emergmedjournIt is a very common thing among addicts to share things with each other revolving around getting high. However, unless it is something like food or a place to get help, most of the information and resources turn out to be harmful. For example, sharing needles causes the spread of infections and diseases.

In other cases they pass along “tips” about how to either alter an experience, sustain a high or reduce discomfort in some way. One of these things recently examined was the use of an over-the-counter drug called loperamide. It is most commonly found in the anti-diarrhea drug Imodium, but in this case is taken in larger doses to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms or even abused to get high.

A new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that loperamide abuse can actually be very deadly. It is a drug that agonizes opioid receptors but doesn’t generate a high in the small recommended dosages. However, in much larger doses it can generate euphoric effects, but also causes irregular heartbeats and even death.

Apparently a growing number of opiate addicts have been taking Imodium and other OTC medications containing loperamide to cut down on their withdrawal symptoms or they abuse it in place of other opioids.

“Because of its low cost, ease of accessibility and legal status, it’s a drug that is very, very ripe for abuse,” said the study’s lead author William Eggleston, a doctor of pharmacy and fellow in clinical toxicology at the Upstate New York Poison Center. “At [our center], we have had a sevenfold increase in calls related to loperamide use and misuse over the last four years.”

Eggleston and his colleagues urge officials to be more aware of this drug and its abuse, and recommend placing more restrictions on it, similar to what was done with pseudoephedrine several years ago.

The President Targets Opiate Addiction

obamaopioidsDespite the fact that elected officials in several states have openly vowed to address the prescription painkiller and heroin problems, there hasn’t been much talk coming from the White House on the subject. Some people in the drug rehab and prevention field have criticized the President for this, as the problem has escalated substantially over the last several years.

However, President Obama recently announced an initiative while at a public appearance in West Virginia that described an approach to target more of the system than individual users. For example, there is the commitment that more than half a million healthcare professionals will complete opioid prescriber training over the next two years. This is an effort to reduce the unnecessarily large amount of opioids being given to people, especially when other treatments might be more effective and much less dangerous.

At the same time, the White House aims to double the number of doctors who are certified to prescribe buprenorphine for opiod addiction over the next three years. That would push the total to around 60,000 physicians. Additionally, the intent is to double the number of providers that prescribe naloxone and the number who are registered with their prescription drug monitoring programs.

“More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from motor vehicle crashes,” Mr. Obama said. “The majority of those overdoses involve legal prescription drugs. I don’t have to tell you, this is a terrible toll.”

Many in the treatment industry are applauding these efforts, but some are wondering if they are sufficient considering the size of the problem.

The nation is currently in the process of a drug policy overhaul, and the heroin and prescription narcotic crisis is one of the main catalysts forcing this change. It will take a major commitment on many fronts to have a significant impact and reverse the trends, though there are some recent signs that opioid addiction may at least be leveling off instead of increasing.

Of course on an individual level, finding a successful treatment program like Genesis House is one of the most effective first steps toward ending the abuse.